What will answers to these three human resource (HR) questions reveal about your business?
1. What is your business’ annual training budget?
While you’re chewing on that, let me point out one of the HR practices that Big Businesses are known for, and which small businesses should emulate: a legendary commitment to training. Alas, too many small firms conduct training after a fashion, if at all, and likely with no budget.
Historically, big businesses have had an advantage in this area because they have the resources to pay for structured training programs, and the staff redundancy to give their people time away from their assignments to acquire training. But thanks to the Internet, and thousands of companies that develop and distribute convenient and affordable online training programs, small businesses can acquire training in a wide range of disciplines without breaking the budget and with a minimum of lost production.
So how’re you coming on that training budget answer? If you’re having trouble, perhaps we’ve found a good place to focus your attention. Let me provide a low-hanging-fruit place to start: Train ALL employees to say to customers: “You’re welcome” or “My pleasure” instead of “No problem.” “No problem” is a big problem.
Training is an excellent example of how technology has leveled the playing field for small businesses. But you still have to claim that leverage with a commitment of time and money.
2. Are your employees successful?
Does that sound like a trick question? Well, it is only if you don’t know that the best way for your business to be outrageously successful is for you to help your employees to be successful in their individual assignments, and then recognize them for that.
Remember Blasingame’s First Law of Aggregation: Your employees’ success in their assignments ultimately aggregates for, and accrues to you, the owner. Here’s another low-hanging-fruit place to start, say this to your employees: “You own this assignment, and to the degree that you need me to help you finish your work, at that moment, I work for you.”
Subordinating your ego to employee success makes them happier and the business more profitable.
3. Who are your key employees?
Yes, it’s another trick question because the answer is everyone. Every member of a small business must fit the definition of “key”: competent, versatile, and engaged with a good attitude. Your company’s ability to compete will be diminished by the same factor as the percentage of your team who don’t fit this profile. Identify the keepers, pay them well, and replace everybody else!
Whether the unemployment rate is zero or 10%, good people are always in demand. Find and keep the best people, invest in their professional growth with training, and help them to be successful in their assignments. Because if you don’t, another company will poach them.
Write this on a rock ... Now, more than ever, invest in training, promote employee success, and show them they’re valued.
Jim Blasingame is host of The Small Business Advocate Show and author of the new book, The 3rd Ingredient: The Journey of Analog Ethics into the World of Digital Fear and Greed.