What is the secret to growth? Business leaders should recruit the right people to do the job while they set their sights on the big picture, says Roger Harrop
Business is simple at heart – somebody has something to sell, somebody wants to buy. That’s all it is.
But business needs growth to survive. To make that happen, business owners need to take the aerial view and spend time mapping out the future. From 30,000 feet up, so to speak, mountains become molehills.
Defining the purpose of your business doesn’t mean carving out a mission statement. It means clearly understanding what you do, why you do it and what success looks like. It may take several in-depth meetings to clearly articulate this in one sentence, but afterwards every strategic decision you take gets simpler.
Most of all, you need the right people. The cost of bad recruitment can be high – anywhere up to five times that individual’s salary, according to the Harvard Business School – and conventional two-level interviews lead to unsatisfactory appointments on four out of five occasions. Where else in your business would you accept a 60 per cent failure rate?
Before recruiting, look at your teams. A team performs best when each member has clear responsibilities. The Belbin Team Role Model advocates you don’t just interview your candidates. Instead, ask them to outline how they would resolve a realistic issue. Not only does this corroborate their claims, it also allows interviewers to focus on listening to and assessing the candidate rather than steering the conversation.
Budget allowing, I recommend using a one-day assessment centre to incorporate job-specific tasks with psychometric testing. This ensures candidates who may top your list at interview stage fulfil the demands of the role and have the stamina to thrive under pressure.
Never forget, the best talent has options. They won’t work for an organisation whose values they don’t share; equally you do not want to recruit a person who doesn’t truly reflect your ethos.
At Cosatto, the strapline is, “Baby stuff with personality”, and they work hard at employee engagement. The CEO Andrew Kluge installed a slide down to a central hub. He wanted staff to come together, relax, eat and get to know each other in a fun way. After all, you can’t do anything but smile while going down a slide! It generated pride in the business.
To get the most from your staff, you need to train, encourage, nurture and reward them – preferably in that order, as money is not always the main driver for top talent.
As well as the best staff, you need new prospects. Winning businesses must dedicate more time than ever to developing new relationships, as technological progress – and the rise of social media and other online channels – has improved the relationship-forming capabilities for everyone, including your competitors. If you’re not serious about identifying prospects you risk being left behind.
Sales people should spend at least one day a week talking to new leads. You can no longer sit back and expect customers to find you.
For every type of business, in every sector, there is a clear relationship between the number of properly pre-qualified leads and the business that is ultimately generated. That means by doubling the number of proper leads you should also double the volume of sales.
Above all, business leaders need three things – and they come from the heart, not the head – belief, passion and courage.
You have to believe in whatever it is you’re doing. If you don’t, you’ll be found out by your employees, financiers and customers.
You have to lead with passion – it needs to be an everyday part of the business. That way, passion becomes infectious.
Finally, you need courage. A business only moves forward if it takes risks, whether it’s setting the highest standards for your people, raising prices by a few per cent or trying out a new market – if you have the courage to focus on growth, you boost your chances in the race ahead.