Where To Find Great Talent For Your SMB

Hiring and retaining great talent is one of the biggest challenges of today’s SMBs (small to mid-sized businesses.) On the one hand, knowing how to engage employees and keep them motivated is key to improving job performance and to achieving outstanding results. But before you get there, you need to be able to find and select the most talented candidates for your organization.

So, how can you hire great talent and where should you look to find exceptional candidates? Follow these tips, and you will begin a smooth and successful hiring process.

Hire great talent from your competitors

If you want to hire people who have the right expertise and know your industry inside out, who better than your competitor’s employees? They are the ideal candidates because they may already have strategical connections and these relationships developed over the years will be a priceless acquisition to your company.

When taking this approach, you have two options: you can contact people who are still working for your competitors, or you can get in touch with old employees that you know no longer work for the organization. If you go for the first alternative, remember to offer them a salary increase as well as other attractive incentives. It is important never to ignore a non-compete agreement and if you are not sure about how to proceed, ask a solicitor to help you out. If you opt to aim for ex-employees, you may want to stay abreast of your competitor’s personnel movements to be able to contact them as soon as they leave the company. In any case, it is highly recommended to develop an online relationship with them via Twitter or Linkedin, before you get in touch directly. This social media connection will help you increase your chances to hire that desired talent and show your interest gradually.

Look for prospects on social media and blogs

Another way to find great talent is looking for references in your industry in social media channels and blogs. Professionals who run blogs about your industry or have work-related social media accounts with engaged followers are showing a clear commitment to their profession and are potentially better hires.

The best way to approach them is to start a relationship via social media. Before you contact them to work for you, you can connect with them on Linkedin and Twitter, comment on their posts and retweet their best tweets. If they have an influential blog, you can share their posts with your business accounts and help them amplify their reach.

Consider hiring remote staff members

As Nicole Fallon Taylor explained in one of her articles on Business News Daily, you have to “expand your search area.” “If your company is located in a competitive hiring market, you’d be better off searching for top talent in a less competitive area,” said Anthony Smith, founder, and CEO of CRM software company Insightly. “Technology allows for smooth collaboration and communication no matter where employees are located, so you don’t need to lose out on experts in your field because of where your company is based.”

Old fashioned networking still works

According to The Wall Street Journal’s guide on how to hire your first employees, an entrepreneur’s best option for finding talent usually is networking, “start-ups typically find their first 10 or 15 employees this way”. And they recommend “asking for referrals from your friends, industry colleagues, and advisers, such as your accountant, attorney, board members and organization members. If one of your advisers or colleagues recommends somebody, they’ve done some of your employee screening work already”.

The pull marketing strategy adapted to hiring

You have probably heard of the push and pull marketing strategies. In the first case, you take the product to the customer while in the second instance you get the customer to come to you. Well, this marketing strategy can easily be adapted to hiring, and if you are running a startup or SMB, this option is highly recommended.

This approach to finding great talent entails making your company extremely attractive to grab the interest of key candidates and invite them to come to you. And as Sharlyn Lauby explains in her article 3 Ways to Find Top Talent for your Startup, for Open Forum, “finding talent doesn’t always have to be about companies making the first move. Creating an environment that entices candidates to come work for you is a sound strategy.”

As companies are competing to hire the best talent in each field, running a small to mid-sized business, you need to be smarter and create a talent recruiting strategy. Use a combination of the tactics mentioned and invest time and resources to make sure you hire the team that will help your company grow in the right direction.

Photo Credit: CEO Magazyn Polska Flickr via Compfight cc

15 Writers Shaping How We Think about Leadership

Leadership is no longer about command-and-control. Barking expectations don’t motivate people. It irritates and diminishes a leader’s effectiveness. After all, leadership is learning how to motivate people to want to do something.

So what does leadership look like in the 21st century? These 15 writers have a body of work that can help you adapt to a more relationally-driven approach to motivating people to want to do their best.

Brene Brown: From Rising Strong to Daring Greatly, Brown lovingly, and with humor, shines the light on leadership topics many of us want to ignore: getting back up when we fall, courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. These are real human realities that today’s leaders must discuss, explore, and learn from.

Adam Grant: Whether learning about givers, takers, and matchers in his extraordinary first book Give and Take, or really what it takes to transform the world in Originals, Grant’s work will guide you through ideas that shift how you can have a positive influence on people and the world.

Bob Chapman: As CEO of Barry-Wehmiller and co-author of Everybody Matters, Chapman is the shining star example of executive leadership in the human-age. If you are looking to find a balance between business and people demands, Chapman is your guide.

Tom Rath: In his most recent book Are You Fully Charged, Rath paints the case that meaning, interactions, and having the energy to do your best are vital for today’s leaders. You’ve got to care for yourself before you can care for others.

Arianna Huffington: Thrive was a revelation for me about living a whole life and loving it. In a 24/7 world, leaders need to know how to find this for themselves or find themselves depleted. Huffington’s new book, The Sleep Revolution goes deep into one of the means to a thriving life–getting a good night sleep.

Jurgen Appelo: In his upcoming book, Managing for Happiness, Appelo gives leaders plenty of insights on how to make the workplace meaningful, purposeful, engaging, fun, and productive. Appelo has his finger on the pulse of what is shifting in employee expectations and how leaders need to respond.

Susan Cain: While the conversation about introverts and extroverts is decades old, Cain shined a fresh light on the topic. In Quiet, she sparked a more informed conversation about introversion and introverts. For leaders, Cain’s message is key to understanding people.

Simon Sinek: The popular Start with Why and Sinek’s follow-up, Leaders Eat Last,connect creating a business built on purpose to leading one with your humanity intact.

Dan Pink: Understand what motivates people: It’s an essential knowledge area for leaders today. Pink’s Drive is the required reading if you want to help people live into their potential.

Patrick Lencioni: With Lencioni’s rich body of work, there’s so much to pick from. If you want a primer of his work, pick up The Advantage. His upcoming book, The Ideal Player, drills down into teamwork and team players. Creating great teams today takes more than simply wanting one.

David Burkus: Your success today can’t rely solely on ideas of the past. Burkus’s latest book, Under New Management, presents new ideas for a new era of business–one that promotes community, transparency, flexibility, flatter organizational structures, and more. Leader’s today need to know what trends are changing the nature of running a business.

Amy Cuddy: What does your body language communicate about what you’re thinking? About your confidence. Self-awareness is essential for effective leadership. Cuddy explores this in insightful, useful doses in her book Presence.

Whitney Johnson: Speaking of self-awareness, Johnson invites you to answer a key question for leaders today: have you disrupted yourself? We get complacent as human beings. Complacency makes for lazy minds and ideas. There is no time for these two performance drainers in a hyper-competitive work environment. Check out Disrupt Yourself, Johnson’s, second book. A must read for anyone who wants to grow.

Travis Bradberry: If Amy Cuddy and Whitney Johnson teach us about self-awareness, Travis Bradberry builds on their message. He teaches us about emotional intelligence in his book Emotional Intelligence 2.0. He makes it easier to understand how to increase your emotional quotient (EQ). We need more leaders with higher EQs.

Liz WisemanMultipliers is a fantastic message for today’s leader: how do you magnify other people’s intelligence and capability. This takes a bit of selflessness. We need more of this today. Wiseman’s book is one to keep by your bedside.

There you have it. Top writers doing some needle-moving thinking towards enlightened leadership. Treat yourself. Update your library with any of the above writers’ works. Your people will thank you. Your personal satisfaction with your work and yourself will grow.

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Employee Engagement: Three Ways to Manage by Motivating

Motivation is what drives us to set and attain goals, it is our desire to do things.

Motivation is fundamental to employee engagement. The goal of employee engagement is to get employees to expend discretionary effort and the best way to do that is with proper motivation. When you know how to motivate, you have the keys to being a manager with a team of engaged employees.

Motivation comes in two flavors: Intrinsic and Extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is derived from internal desires. The drive to do things that make you happy, that create meaning — that produce internal rewards that are mentally satisfying. By contrast, extrinsic motivation is what drives the desire to gain external rewards or avoid punishment. Oftentimes, the two motivations are intertwined, for instance the desire to win can be motivated by both the desire for the cash prize, (extrinsic), and the desire to feel a sense of accomplishment, (intrinsic).

Be A Super Hero Manager: Three Ways To to Motivate Employees

1. Competition

Devising a friendly competition among employees is a great way to encourage task performance and behavior. It also serves to motivate both intrinsically and extrinsically; employees are driven to win to receive the reward and for the feeling of triumph. For instance, you might assign points to the completion of certain tasks or behaviors, (submitting reports on time, filling out survey questions etc.), at the end of the designated time period, the person with the most points wins.

2.  Awards And Recognition

The problem with Employee of the Month awards is that they single out one person and disregard the contributions of others. Instead of a singular employee award, consider creating multiple awards to recognize employee efforts. The award categories and criteria should be clearly displayed so that employees understand what they are working towards and how to achieve the goal. These awards are a great way to give employees company-wide recognition which endows them with a sense of achievement and the physical reward of a certificate.

3.  Negative Reinforcement

A common misconception of negative reinforcement is that it means doing something adverse. In actuality, negative reinforcement is where you take something away, stop something or avoid an adverse outcome or stimulus (as opposed to giving something as in positive reinforcement). Negative reinforcement is intrinsically motivating because a person is compelled to perform or behave in a certain way in order to avoid or stop something from happening or because the action will result in something being removed. For instance, if an employee knows that if they complete something without mistake, they won’t have to do it again, then they are being driven by the desire to avoid the unfavorable consequence.

These are just some of the ways that managers can motivate their employees by taking advantage of their intrinsic and extrinsic drivers. Motivation is central to employee engagement and when you know how to employ the right motivation you can get the best performance out of your employees.


Theories Of Motivation For Workplace Productivity

What motivates you? The allure of a big pay off? The drive to better yourself? Praise, attention, and awards from co-workers or employers?

If you’ve ever taken an introductory psychology class (or have a pet animal), then you know about Pavlov’s dog. The idea behind salivating to the sound of a bell is the crux of Classical Conditioning, but it doesn’t tend to show human behavior and motivation in a positive light.

Dan Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, delineates motivation into three easy-to-understand categories: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Through this updated model, the space, skill set, and drive to attain a particular goal comprise the factors of motivation in a way that is more conducive within a professional environment.

Using Motivation To Your Advantage

In her book How to Get People to Do Stuff, Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. lays out the roadmap for using the seven basic drivers of motivation as an advantage:

  1. The Need to Belong
  2. Habits
  3. The Power of Stories
  4. Carrots and Sticks
  5. Instincts
  6. The Desire for Mastery
  7. Tricks of the Mind

Weinschenk mentions that you can wield the need to belong by trusting in people. Showing trust is the best way to get people to trust you and the payoff is that people are more likely to comply with a request if it comes from a person they trust.

Want to work harder and encourage employees or coworkers to do the same? Surround yourself with high performers. Their energy and commitment will bolster yours. Someone is more likely to engage in a behavior if you can get them to formulate it as an internally-directed question rather than a statement. (In other words, you’re more likely to exercise when you ask, “Will I go for a run tomorrow?”, than when you say to yourself, “I will run tomorrow.”)

Want to reinforce someone else’s behavior? For learning new behaviors, use the fixed-internal and fixed-ratio schedules. (When it comes to maintaining behaviors, the variable-ratio schedule is most effective.)

Motivation Vs. Rewards In The Workplace

There’s no one-size-fits-all theory of motivation. However, research is clear on one point: once you have achieved an acceptable standard of living, rewards and punishments can do more harm than good. In order to maintain a workforce that produces positive results, there are certain areas that can be utilized to motivate employees.

With ever-changing business practices and goals, the motivation methods implemented in the workplace require flexibility and the opportunity to adapt. There is perhaps a better chance of improved productivity and overall morale with the updated encouragement and employee recognition, rather than the usual, old hat “carrot and stick” motivational system. Following these tips allow for increased productivity and an overall well-balanced, positive workplace environment for all involved. It doesn’t have to take much to show your co-workers and employees just how much their hard work and dedication is appreciated!


3 Ways to Influence, Not Control, Employee Commitment

If you’ve read various leadership forums, you’re probably familiar with the concept of control versus influence. Controlling and authoritative personalities in management motivate employees to act, but it’s usually out of fear or requirement — neither of which produce a sense of commitment to an organization.

When it comes to managing an employee’s psychological attachment and involvement in a company, it’s best to realize that “controlling” is impossible in this situation because we are dealing with attachment on a psychological level. If managers could control thoughts, we’d belong in a science fiction film.

Instead, the way managers communicate and act trigger an emotional response from employees, inspiring them to think and feel a particular way about their jobs, which influences a certain level of commitment.

While you can’t control employee commitment, you can influence it the following ways:

Check Your Culture and Revamp if Necessary

How’s your company culture? Have you checked in recently to see what values your employees are using to make decisions? Your company culture evolves over time, shaping your organization’s brand from the inside out. With the influx of new hires and the departure of veterans, it’s important to make sure your culture remains clear, strong, and on the right path.

A recent study proves that people choose whether or not to act on deviant behavior based on group norms. Just in the same, employees will conform to the norms of the organization in order to feel accepted as part of the group. It really makes you wonder what your new employees are learning from current ones, even you. Another study found that company culture directly influences employee behavior.

If your culture needs revamping, try implementing a few of these tactics:

Strengthen your communication. During busy work days, it’s tough to keep everyone in the loop about what’s going on. Try using mobile-enabled software that allows two-way communication between you and your employees through which you can send documents and updates.

Schedule a weekly tradition. Pick one that allows employees to interact with one another on a subject not related to work. Schedule a nerf gun war, lunchtime social, or post a “question of the week” allowing space for answers.

Create a place for exercise. If you can’t afford to pave a basketball court in back of your office building, install a basketball hoop in a break room. Or turn an extra office space into a gym, and welcome everyone to join in on finding inexpensive equipment to furnish it.

Play interactive games. Start weekly brainstorming sessions with quick icebreaker games like “I’ve Never,” “Pictionary,” or “20 Questions.” You can even theme them to the meeting’s topic.

Encourage office personalization. Encourage your employees to bring in items that inspire them, with which they can decorate their offices or desks. During the holidays, host themed office door decorating contests.

Show Your Humanity

We’ve heard the “lead by example” cliche, but there’s more to standing alongside your employees on projects. Employees really want a manager who is relatable. A human, not a superhero with unobtainable powers, or a tireless production robot.

If you strive to show nothing but perfection, employees will feel burdened by unrealistic expectations to perform at the superhuman level. Worse, they won’t have anyone they can watch to learn how to recover from mistakes. As a result, they may feel alone, or disconnected, which weakens commitment.

When you reveal your imperfections and address mistakes as something everyone faces, you can foster a sense of belonging among employees.

Involve Employees in the Vision

Often employees will feel detached from their work when they don’t understand what role it plays in the big picture. Generate excitement and a sense of significance in what your employees do by showing the direct effects of their work on the company in the form of numbers, positive customer reviews, or company ranking.

Not only that, but you can also generate a sense of ownership by allowing employees to participate in the decision-making process. Research shows employees are more committed when involved in making decisions. Feeling like an active force behind the direction of the company will keep them engaged.

When it comes to behavior, realize it can only be influenced by the actions you take. If you notice your employees are disengaged, try improving communication and engaging everyone in activities to create a sense of community. Remember, people commit to tasks because of how they feel about the people involved, and you can only influence employee commitment.

What are some other ways you can influence employee commitment? Share in the comments below!

Bio: Matt Straz is the founder & CEO of Namely, the HR and payroll platform for the world’s most exciting companies. Connect with Matt and the Namely team on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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