If you’re thinking about how to grow your company to the next level–and if you’re a CEO, the chances are pretty good you are–you’re likely preoccupied with a number of different growth targets. You’re thinking about how to scale your business. You’re thinking about better marketing your business, and you’re thinking about new business development.
But as someone who has been through the type of growth that transitions a company from small to mid-sized (and growing), I recommend you also make a point of focusing on one key element that it’s vital you protect: The talent contained within your existing employees.
Channel Your Team’s Entrepreneurial Tendencies
One of the keys to unlocking employee talent is to encourage your employees to be entrepreneurial; to take the reigns on ideas and explore areas they find interesting, even if unrelated to their day-to-day work.
I’m not necessarily talking about the old Google policy of letting your employees pursue whatever they want–even Google dialed back on that one eventually. What I’m talking about is giving your employees leeway to discover new ideas.
Jay Maruska and Jay Perry wrote about this idea in an article in Entrepreneur.com. They suggest that, as a leader, you “shift your approach from top-down to bubble-up.” That means encouraging employees to author their own talent stories. “While the leader can attempt to be the one and only hero in your organization, it is best to get everyone involved and have them power up their own hero stories. Invite them to go beyond their job descriptions and engage their passions.”
This is a cultural change as much as a management change. It takes intention on your part to assure this is actually part of your company’s daily operations and overall mission.
Reward Managers for Developing Their Team Members
One of the best ways to get your employees to stick with you and help you grow your business over the long haul is to work on developing your staff. Help them see what’s next in their careers, find training opportunities, and give them honest feedback on where they should focus their efforts.
It’s best to encourage your managers to do this development, but, as outlined in a recent Business Matters article, “Too often, (managers) see training and development of their team either as an inconvenient short-term loss of resource or an extra burden on an already tight budget.”
How do you change that mindset among your managers?
You purposefully make team development part of their job descriptions and evaluation processes. Make development of junior staff something you reward.
The benefits to the company-at-large are multiple. After all, the higher your managers go in your organization as it scales, the more important it is that your managers/potential executives-to-be know how to maximize results from the people below them. That is best done through not just improvement of process, but also through development of your people.
These two tactics–encouraging your employees’ entrepreneurial tendencies and rewarding your managers for developing their own team members–work best in combination. Either is effective, but you’ll find as you grow your business from a small company to a mid-sized, growing concern that it’s the combination of the two that can help turn your company culture into one that draws strong employees like a magnet.
You’ll not only pull smart, driven people to your business, but you’ll endear them to you and foster longterm loyalty. They’ll stick with you, and your company will reap the rewards.