fbpx
Find, Train and Retain Rockstar Contractors

Find, Train and Retain Rockstar Contractors

You can’t do it all. And this becomes especially true as your company grows to serve more customers. With growth come more relationships and projects to manage, as well as more expansive and complex administrative functions. You need help to build a sustainable business, and we live in a time when there are more options for help available than ever before.

With benefits to your business like less paperwork, lower overhead for office space and skipping the benefits package, independent contractors can be a great option for businesses that don’t need full-time, dedicated on-site support for a specific function, project or initiative.

The notion that outsourcing is only done to leverage lower wages overseas has gone by the wayside, and in has stepped the boom of independent professionals who provide services under the contractor model stateside. Forbes estimates that half of the American workforce alone will be freelancing by 2027.

Maybe you already outsource your bookkeeping or your social media. The contractors you use are an essential piece of your operations, allowing you to let go while still building your business. Maybe you haven’t used contractors yet and are considering when is the right time and how to bring them on board successfully.

The vital question is how to find, train and retain the right contractors.

Let’s dive in.

Finding The Right Contractors

The contractor world is growing, and finding the right contractor starts with a few keystrokes. If you’re looking for an independent contractor in your geographical area, it’s quick and easy to start the search on Google. If you’re looking for an independent professional within a wider radius, websites like Upwork.com and Freelancer.com offer thousands of professionals to choose from. There are dedicated websites for freelancers providing specific services, too, like Textbroker.com for copy writing.

I already mentioned some of the benefits to contracting specific tasks out. Another added bonus is that contractors often have deep experience in a specific skill set (say web development or recruiting). Look for the specific experience a contractor brings to the table—the companies he or she has worked with, his or her portfolio of work, etc.

A metaphor might be helpful here. Let’s look at cloud technology. The idea of running programs on shared servers has existed for 50 years, but until recently it required each business to buy all the related equipment to store in-house. You know—the computers that filled rooms, plus multiple servers to boot. Today, cloud services are offered over the web, meaning the servers and other hardware are stored in one place that now serve thousands of businesses at a time. And none of those businesses have to buy the equipment or devote resources to the IT required to run it.

How to hire freelancers to take tasks off your plateHiring contractors to get specific tasks off your plate works the same way. If you find the contractor with the experience and the client book that demonstrates they’ve worked with businesses like yours before, that means less training you have to do and fewer resources you have to devote. We’ll get into proper training below (because there will be some), but working with a professional who’s doing the kind of work you need in bulk points to a more efficient economy for all of us.

If you’ve dabbled around on freelancer sites but aren’t ready to reach out on those platforms yet, you can also look for contractors by:

  1. Getting referrals from other businesses, in and out of your market
  2. Checking out trade or professional associations
  3. Searching Facebook or LinkedIn for groups devoted to the work you need

Expert tip: to find the right contractor, you also have to know what you need in very specific terms. Start the search after you have your scope of work tightly defined.

Training Your Contractors

Because of the expertise independent professionals can bring, training your contractors or freelancers can be easier than training full-time hires in your office. Just be sure to keep in mind that training contractors will be a little different.

For one, you expect contractors to come in with specific knowledge, so your focus in training can ultimately be around the operations the contractor will be a part of and what you expect the contractor to deliver.

Training a contractor should naturally take on a sense of your bigger business culture, too. In fact, independent contractors who come on for single projects frequently end up feeling more invested in the hiring company than the project at hand. Start by communicating your standards to new contractors and encourage them to keep those same standards. By taking training beyond tasks to this bigger cultural training, you’ll be better positioned to see your outsourcing ultimately reduce your operational costs.

On top of explaining your business, your expectations, your needs and goals (and giving your contractors the operational materials they’ll need to learn and perform their jobs), training will also come in the form of your active feedback. Give feedback with specific examples as deliverables start to come in, and the right contractor will be quick to learn.

Top tips to effectively train independent contractors

And do take note that there are some rules around training contractors that any business owner looking to independent professionals should be familiar with. Consulting with your attorney is a good place to start, especially to understand the legalities around a W2 versus a 1099.

Retaining Your Contractors

Retaining your contractors starts with a clear service contract that outlines all the details about the relationship they’ll have with your business. What is the term of the agreement? How can it be terminated? What are the specific services you’re contracting, and for what compensation? How will intellectual property be protected and who owns it? Do you need a non-disclosure?

Expert tip: email me if you have questions about what else should go into a service agreement for a contractor. If you do select someone through a freelancing website, this may remove the need to craft an agreement yourself, as these sites have standard agreements that both parties sign.

When it comes to keeping your contractors happy, good communication is the name of the game. If you do work with contractors over the web, consider videoconferences whenever you can. It’s important to build a strong relationship, and there’s no better way to do that than seeing one another eye-to-eye.

Expert tip: remember that you aren’t allowed to control how an independent contractor does his or her work. You can, however, communicate proactively with your contractors regarding timelines and milestones to gain commitment on when they will have specific projects done. Deadlines must always be a part of your negotiations, and it helps if you make yourself available as quickly as you can to answer follow-up questions when a contractor has them.

Managing your contractors does take some work. It won’t be as easy as shipping a task off at the click of a button. Managing contractors is, however, almost always less time-consuming than managing employees.

Outsourcing can add steam to your organization’s engine with lower operational costs if you find, train and retain the right contractors. Do you already use an independent contractor for your administrative tasks? How about your marketing strategy? If you’d like to contract more tasks out, leave me a comment here or get in touch—I might even have a referral for exactly what you need.

Trouble Finding Talent? You’re Not Alone!

Trouble Finding Talent? You’re Not Alone!

You’ve probably heard the phrase “dig your well before you’re thirsty.” In finding and hiring the right talent for your business, this means building a bench of rock star candidates to reach out to with offers as positions in your organization become available.

If only it were that easy.

You know you need the right team to grow your business, but finding candidates with the right set of skills, behavioral traits and ambitions interested in joining your team can be a real challenge. I’ve been hearing this again and again from Kleriti clients in recent weeks.

The unemployment rate as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May was 3.6%, well below the normal rate. This means many of today’s would-be candidates are asking for salaries that immediately disqualify them from the running.

Your hiring process can be simpler and at the same time more effective. There is a path of less resistance to find the talent you need when you need it—and at the price you can afford. I’m going to break down the key factors at play to put this all into perspective—because, with these factors worked to your advantage, finding and hiring the right people for your business doesn’t have to be hard.

How to build an effective and repeatable hiring process

Building a hiring process that is effective and repeatable comes down to assessing:

  1. Where is hiring on your priority list?
  2. How do you write your job descriptions?
  3. What is your process for reviewing, interviewing and evaluating candidates?
  4. And how realistic are you at the onset?

Where Is Hiring On Your Priority List?

To attract the right talent, recruiting has to be a priority. More specifically, this means devoting time to:

  • Promoting openings
  • Searching for candidates
  • And reviewing applicants

For starters, any time you’re in public you have the chance to act as a spokesperson for your business and your team. Give your brand a voice and speak to its mission. You never know if your neighbor, or the café barista or the guy in your running group is looking for a new opportunity. Or maybe they know someone who is. If you start your search for talent by networking and promoting openings in day-to-day interactions, you’ll end up planting seeds that could later yield harvest.

Next, to get more proactive, searching for and researching talent is a must. A natural place to start is on LinkedIn, and you can also look for groups on Facebook that are devoted to the industry or type of work you’re scouting for. Depending on the talent you need, some of these groups might be specific to trade groups or associations where those professionals convene.

These activities take time, and it might feel like devoting energy to one more thing will push you over the edge. Just keep reading through the following steps and you’ll see how this process can become repeatable and easier over time.

How Do You Write The Best Job Description?

Writing the best job description requires clearly outlining the job’s requirements—and a little intrigue on top of that can create an even more effective post. Start by outlining the essential duties, behavioral competencies, education and experience needed for the position. The more time you devote to getting specific here, the more likely you are to bring in the right person.

Expert tip: If you’re unsure where to start with responsibilities or competencies, look at your current staff. How are you using the talent you have today? A quick assessment can act as a springboard to be clearer about what you need out of a new hire. For example, if you wish your current staff had stronger project management skills, highlight that competency in your job description. How you’re using your current talent—and where they need help—can give you direction on what to look for in the next role you fill.

If you’re writing a job description for an entirely new position and you’re struggling with where to start, another option is to read descriptions on job boards for like roles in your area. What do you see in other job descriptions that you want to look for in your new hire?

With responsibilities and competencies clearly defined, the icing on the cake is the “intrigue” element of your job description. If your business is growing, mention that in the post. Give a brief summary of what your business does and how this role fits into the bigger picture. And if you’re looking for talent with a specific energy (like a “go getter” attitude, or someone with a sense of curiosity, or someone who’s flexible), use that language to make your post more human and relatable. Remember that you’re selling your organization along with the role and use language that really attracts the right candidates. 

The best job descriptions come with a little reflection of your current talent, a little research on the competition and clear and relatable language. Keep reading to see how far this takes you into an optimized hiring process.

What Does Your Hiring Process Need?

Your hiring process needs to be practical and repeatable. And yes, you do need a process. By building a step-by-step system, you’ll make life easier the next time you have to hire—and you’ll also ensure that you compare candidates apples-to-apples. You can tweak your hiring process as needed, but here’s my recommendation to get started:

  1. Get creative in the search

Step one is the first concept you read about. By investing time up-front on LinkedIn and Facebook, and in promoting opportunities within your network, you’ll end up with a bigger pool of talent to consider. Posting and ad on a job board and waiting for the right candidate to appear doesn’t always cut it. If you proactively reach out to professionals whose experience, skills and energy align with what you need, you’ll save yourself time in every other step of your hiring process.

  1. Be resourceful in promoting your job descriptions

Let’s say you’ve written a clear and intriguing job description just like I outlined above. Posting it to a job board is a natural place to start. Some options are ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor and Google for Jobs. And sharing it on your own LinkedIn profile, on Facebook and within relevant social media groups and trade organizations will help you make an even bigger splash.

  1. Decide how you’ll compare resumes

Here, not only do you decide what criteria you’ll favor when reviewing candidates, you can also list your priorities in order of importance to help compare candidates in a consistent and weighted fashion. In fact, when you craft your job description, one easy hack is to list the responsibilities, competencies and required experience in their order of importance in their respective lists. Then you can use the job description itself to rank candidates against those key requirements.

One caution here is to remember that a resume is simply one piece of a more complex puzzle. It’s likely the first exposure you have to a candidate, but a sheet of paper and a human being are very different. So use the resume as a starting point for evaluation and comparison, but by no means the entire picture.

  1. Standardize your interviews

Interviewing consistently—using the same questions and making sure those questions are written to get at the heart of the role’s responsibilities—is essential to make your hiring process consistent and repeatable. Keep your open-ended interview questions organized and clear, and take notes when you sit down with each candidate. These notes will allow you to complete an objective evaluation when comparing candidates and choosing the right talent for your business.

  1. Consider the right assessments

Most of us have had the experience of interviewing a candidate we thought would be just perfect for our organization, and months later finding out that they misrepresented their skills or competencies. I always recommend adding assessments into your hiring process to combat this. What combination of tactical skills assessments (typing speed, Excel proficiency, etc.) and communication/cultural/job fit assessments can you work into your process? Again, these become repeatable every time, and help break through the tendency to hire people we like in favor of people that will do the work we need well and add value to our organizations.

After finding and hiring the right talent, read my article about training new hires to your standards to set new employees up for success right away.

Why you need the best hiring process for your small business

Your Market: How Realistic Are You In Hiring?

Even the best hiring process won’t pay off if your expectations aren’t realistic. When looking at your market, one of the big business decisions to make in hiring is what you’ll be able to pay. Don’t stretch your budget or lower your expectations so far that you feel like you’re “settling,” because that never works out. (Mr. Good Enough is out of fashion in dating, so why should your business ever settle?)

Looking at my home state of Colorado and all the Kleriti clients here, the balance of budgets against the job market has been especially tough. I’ve had clients say that it feels like candidates come in asking for a million dollars.

Naturally, with unemployment rates falling lower and lower, top talent will have the luxury of being pickier about their next job. This is where the intrigue written into your job description comes into play by adding excitement and relatability to the opportunity you have to offer.

And while large corporations may be able to offer bigger salaries and more robust benefits packages, small businesses can offer incredible benefits to employees that often go undersold. In small business, employees may get:

  • Greater exposure to multiple roles, allowing them to grow and develop their interests and skills more quickly and robustly
  • More ability to see the impact of their work by directly serving a population they care about
  • Increased opportunities to impact the organization with recommendations and insights that can have an immediate effect on the organization’s direction
  • Greater flexibility

Do not underestimate these benefits, and remember that at every step of the hiring process you’re selling your organization and the role to the candidate as much as they’re selling themself to you.

If you’re looking for new talent now, it’s not too late to do a little extra research, revamp your job description and see what’s hot in your local job market. By taking a look at the most popular positions posted by large employers in your area, and how the associated job descriptions are written, you’ll be able to gain insight into what’s attracting local talent. Use this data to inform your decision regarding salary and benefits, but again, stick to what’s right for you and where your organization is at in its growth.

If you’re still feeling down about finding talent for your organization, drop me a comment here or send me an email to get the conversation started. Your organization certainly has great opportunities to offer the right team members, so there’s no reason not to start with that call today.

To Automate or Not to Automate? That is the Question!

To Automate or Not to Automate? That is the Question!

The idea of automating just about any task is an attractive one. You can save time, sometimes hours a day, for you and multiple members of your team.

But then, in the face of changing a routine, finding an automation tool and setting up a new system, you have to ask: is it worth it?

Knowing whether a task is worth automating first requires taking a look at the total time, energy and trouble going into completing it the way it’s done today. From there, you can explore what tools are available to address concerns.

I’m going to break down these three major factors so you can apply them to whatever tasks you’re thinking about automating. Any one of these alone can make it clear that it’s time to automate a process. If you aren’t compelled by one factor, look at the sum of all three. And if you still aren’t sure, apply the questions I’ve listed at the bottom of this article to fully assess your path forward.

Factor One: Total Time

This factor is easy to assess since is quantifiable. For any task you do on a regular basis, there’s usually an opportunity to automate all or part of it, especially since these tasks are almost always repetitive.

For anyone who owns a business, the more tasks you have that require daily or weekly attention, the harder it is to take that vacation you deserve or step back from the daily grind.

My two cents is that any task you’re doing daily can probably be automated to cut the time it takes in half, or eliminate the need for a daily recurrence all together. I’d say the same for many weekly tasks, too.

Here’s a table you can use when assessing how much time you’re really spending on a regular task. Look at the time you could save after migrating that task to an automated solution. Not every task will have an obvious automation solution, and many will depend on other factors like what software is easily available. At the very least this can start to put daily and weekly tasks into perspective of the total time invested.

Table to see how much time you really spend on a repetitive or regular task

Start by jotting down how much time you spend doing regular and repetitive tasks. Especially those that are stressful when you’re out of the office. Better yet, keep a time log for all of your regular tasks to identify room for automation. You might not even realize how many times you’ve performed a single task until you look back over the course of the month.

Expert tip: This concept is so important that it’s discussed in greater depth in the first module of our new online course, DuplicateU: Lay The Foundation. To get additional guidance on this step and what it can mean to you and your business, learn more about DuplicateU here.

Factor Two: Energy

This is where we get into the more open-ended assessments. The energy you spend doing a regular or repetitive task should be a major consideration when looking at automations—after all, you have a lot of responsibilities requiring energy throughout the day. And energy is a finite resource that must be managed with intentionality. If any recurring task is taking energy away from important business functions like strategy and planning, marketing and sales, or financial oversight, it might be worth looking at another solution.

A task can take little time and still be exhaustive mentally/emotionally. Take financial management tasks, for example. One question I answered recently is whether it’s time to upgrade from a bookkeeper to a CFO. If it’s not time to take that step yet, and you’re trying to do away with a few regular data entry tasks, a simple spreadsheet automation might save you energy spent entering sensitive information and validating data fields.

If you’re not sure how much energy a task really requires, ask yourself how you feel after the task is done. Are you able to jump right into something else, or do you need time to “recover” before tackling the next thing? If your answer is the former, it’s likely that task gives you energy. If your answer is the latter, it’s likely that task depletes your energy, and reducing the amount of mental/emotional energy it takes should be a priority.

Factor Three: Trouble (Frustration)

Frustrating tasks and how business owners can automate themThe frustration factor comes down to a little self-awareness. Do you complete certain tasks grudgingly? Are there recurring responsibilities that you put off and put off and put off until absolutely the last minute? Do you have to push yourself to get them done with several pep talks? If a regular task is causing you grief or if it feels like you’re “going to the trouble” to get it done every time, that’s a big flag to consider properly delegating or looking to an automation.

If you feel resentful toward a task, or even hateful of sitting down to do it, it’s probably time to get that task off your plate.

Expert tip: Remember that toxic tasks can weigh down your employees, too. While delegating can serve as a short-term solution, an automation is often the better way to go for repetitive tasks with a high frustration curve.

A final pointer regarding these three factors:

While any one of these factors can illustrate what tasks can be automated, sometimes it’s the sum of all three that point you in the right direction. Imagine an equation: Total Time plus Energy plus Trouble. Label each factor as “high,” “medium” or “low,” and you will feel that much more empowered to invest a little time upfront to move to an automation that will save you time and boost morale in the end.

Questions to Ask if You’re Still not Sure

Automating tasks sounds great. But doing so often require time you feel you don’t have just to get a new system up and running!

If you’re thinking about a specific task and still aren’t sure, or need a few more reasons to justify the time or budget invested in making the switch, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. If you delegated this task instead of automating it, would it be a headache for the person taking it on?
  2. Is the task prone to human error? (Great examples would be bookkeeping and setting appointments.)
  3. Could automating the task improve the quality of work?
  4. Do you know others who have implemented this kind of solution before?

(Expert tip: Making time for a single conversation with a peer or consultant can save you hours of googling, deciphering software features and price-comparing.)

If you answer “yes” to any of the above, that’s a strong indicator that automation could save you time, money and strife.

Looking Toward the Future

Instead of living with frustration or feeling the burnout bubble up, make a move now to automate recurring tasks in a way that is intentional and well planned. These moves will pay off not only in time and energy savings, but also in opening up opportunities to scale your operations. The sooner you have automations in place, the more seamless your ramp to growing your business will be.

Automations often require new software and subscriptions, so weigh these expenses with the benefits these solutions bring and move decisively. If there’s one epiphany that business owners come to time and time again, it’s that we can’t do it all.

Start a time log today to look for tasks begging for automation, or drop a comment here if you already have one on your mind. I’ll reply directly with tips and will be available to point you in the direction of solutions that can help you survive today and scale tomorrow, like the new self-paced online course DuplicateU that will start by working through this exercise. Learn about new automations today to set your business up for a self-sustaining future with lower stress and bigger returns.

You Know An Employee Is Ready To Take Responsibilities Off Your Plate When…

You Know An Employee Is Ready To Take Responsibilities Off Your Plate When…

As a business owner, one of the most important things you do is delegate. After hiring the right people and setting standards for each role, you’ll be faced with new opportunities on a daily basis to delegate tasks and projects, and help employees move to new heights in performance and skill.

It’s satisfying to see an employee grow. So how do you know when someone is ready to take on more responsibility?

One of the first signs that an employee is fully invested in your company (and ready to take more responsibility) is when his or her vocabulary shifts from “mine” and “yours” to “ours.” It’s not just about the employee’s success, and it’s not just about the success of the company. It’s about “our” success together.

This sounds great, especially with that goal in the back of your mind to get to a place where you can let go of the day-to-day and watch your business run itself. You want your hard work to pay off in a self-sustaining way. The specifics of “when” and “how” come down to human resources and recognizing when an employee’s growing skillset can mean bigger opportunity for your business.

Here, I’m going to break down how to identify when an employee is ready to take on more responsibility and carry your business forward.

When an Employee is Ready and Knows it

An employee who is ready for more responsibility and shows it

There are employees who are hungry for more responsibility and make it known to you and your team.

Naturally, any employee you’re considering handing new responsibilities off to will have excelled in meeting his or her current accountabilities. Take a look at any energetic or ambitious employee against the key performance indicators (KPIs) you have in place to ensure that existing tasks are being completed consistently and correctly.

Then look at the telltale signs below that signal an employee is ready to take on even more:

  • Ingenuity: If an employee actively looks for solutions to problems, this demonstrates a drive to exceed expectations, play to the success of the business and ultimately take on more responsibility.
  • Prioritization: Taking on new tasks requires excellent time management practices. In the face of new responsibilities, an employee has to know how to stay on top of current duties and work new ones in while keeping priorities clearly outlined.
  • Managing deadlines: Hand-in-hand with prioritization is the employee’s ability to watch deadlines and take charge of follow-up. Meeting deadlines, and proactivity communicating when a deadline may not be met, are key practices that become more essential when the employee’s plate is even fuller.

When an Employee is Ready and Doesn’t Know it—Yet

An employee who is ready for more responsibility but doesn't know it yet

Maybe you have an employee who’s showing signs that he or she is ready for more responsibility, but lacks the spark to ask for additional tasks proactively. In this case, get curious and speak with the employee about what’s going on. It’s possible he or she has a concern about biting off more and being successful, or simply isn’t aware that there are additional ways he or she could bring value to the organization.

It’s your job to see the possibilities for this employee’s skillsets and strengths and match them with organizational needs.

These are some of the signs that an employee is ready for more responsibility, whether or not he or she knows it:

  • Excelling in existing responsibilities: This is the basic metric when thinking about handing off more assignments or tasks. If your employee is excelling in tasks on his or her plate now, it may be time to start building that employee up to bigger things.
  • Strong performance reviews: If your recent reviews of the employee outline strong adherence to KPIs, that’s one sign that he or she is ready for more. And if your reviews include any type of self-assessment where the employee has shown confidence in work done, that’s an even bigger push to start giving that employee more to do.
  • Acting as the go-to: If other teammates are reaching out to this employee for help with technical or theoretical questions, and he or she has the answers, this may signal that the employee is ready to take on more.

    Expert tip: If other employees are going to one person with questions, this also signals an opportunity in your training program. Make sure team members are cross-trained and have access to the information they need to do their job well.

Align Appropriate Rewards

When an employee takes on more responsibility, consider what type of recognition is most appropriate. If the employee is up for a promotion or raise, celebrate the hard work that went into it. And if you hadn’t thought about a promotion or a raise yet, ask yourself what that employee would need to demonstrate in order for a promotion or raise to be appropriate, and share the criteria with him or her to build up that employee’s momentum.

That said, a raise isn’t the only way to show an employee your appreciation. You can also recognize your employee (and encourage the same behaviors from the rest of your team) using one of several reward approaches. Handing more responsibility to an ambitious and resourceful employee will be good for you, good for the employee and good for your team if done right.

Once you do identify an employee who is ready for more responsibility, the art of delegating is another practice you’ll want to master. And coupled with the recognition and rewards that will keep employees motivated in their new tasks, you and your team will be on the path to bigger things.

Do you have a specific case to ask about? Or an employee who’s shown some of these signs, but not others? Leave me a comment below with your question, or reach out here.

5 Steps To Train Staff To Work To Your Standards

5 Steps To Train Staff To Work To Your Standards

When applying for a new job or considering a job offer, “opportunity for growth” is the second most important thing people look for—right after salary.

When looking at the millennial audience, in particular, a whopping 46% of survey respondents said they left their last job for growth potential.

The point here is that your employees actually want to work to your standards. They want to learn and grow. They want to be engaged, and they want to get more involved over time.

You would think that this hunger to grow means that each new hire will, thus, always be ready to work and work hard—and even up to your own standards.

And yet, there’s a disconnect somewhere along the way. New hires choose to work with you, having measured what room there is to grow. So, why aren’t they growing? How can you motivate staff to work consistently to your standards? Where’s that hunger gone?

The short answer is: training. You have to train your staff correctly in order to work to your standards, or that expectation will never be met.

The long answer brings us to these 5 essential steps.

1. Know Your Standards

A funny thing happens when we communicate. Whether it’s a conversation, an email, or a job description, we have a very clear idea in our heads of what it is we want to transmit.

But then the receiving side doesn’t always picture what we had in mind.

If you want your staff to work to your standards, you must explicitly outline those standards. Start with a little soul searching to find the words, and take notes: what standards do you hold yourself to? What inspires you to meet those standards?

This exercise is a necessary starting point. Anything we feel or expect in life that’s even a little abstract only takes form when we put words to it. It’s how we catalogue our world. So, take a few minutes, close the door to your office and write out what standards you have. Get specific, and include the “why” and other motivators behind each one.

2. Communicate Your Standards

Now, you’ve done the soul searching. You’ve spelled out your standards, where they come from, and what they mean to you.

Next, ensure you have the right language and channels in place to communicate those standards.

When it comes to training staff, you need to have role-by-role key performance indicators (KPIs) in place, communicated openly to each employee. Your KPIs, when clearly identified for each staff member, can help you quantify and qualify those standards you want to train staff to work to.

To measure staff properly on your key standards using KPIs, harken back to the goals and motivations behind those standards. KPIs have to be as objectively measurable as possible, or you risk opening the floodgates of inconsistency that can undo your “standards metrics” altogether.

For example, let’s say it’s your standard to “go the extra mile” for clients. What does that mean? How do you measure it? That could mean a KPI of client retention, or of clients contacted just to “check in” during a given week.

3. Streamline Training

What a buzzword—streamline. What does that mean, “streamline training?”

Streamlining anything means locking in a system to make it happen. This includes an outline of what the process needs to achieve, the steps to get there, and the accountabilities to make those steps easy to follow for all players involved.

In training your staff to work to your standards, your system starts with those same KPIs we just talked about. What training does an employee need to meet all those metrics?

Now, list that training out.

Next, ask yourself, how much time will that training take? Just like you need to schedule in when you check email during the day (and how much time you plan to reply to messages), you need to put real numbers on how much training can be done with your staff and in what frame of time.

Last, and equally important, you have to gather the resources you’ll need for each part of training. For example, if you’re training a client service rep, do you have all needed training documents and tools in one place? Lead sheets? Call scripts? CRM training docs?

This is where most companies’ training stops. If you really want your staff to work to your standards, let’s see what comes next.

4. Offer More Training And Ask For Feedback

One of the standards I’m willing to bet you hold dear is the hunger to continually learn and grow.If you want to support this standard for your staff, the key is offering them opportunities to learn with purpose.

Ongoing training serves two purposes:

  1. It builds staff knowledge and skills
  2. And it keeps staff engaged

Once an employee is trained in and technically knows how to do their job, if you’re at a loss for what other training to offer, there are a couple directions you can go.

First, you can consider adding new responsibilities to offer more training.

Second, you can check in with staff for feedback on what they want to learn. This gives employees a stake in the training they’re about to receive, and emboldens them to view the world through the lens of “what else can I do?”

Share this nugget with your staff, too: asking for advice or training actually makes you look smarter, according to a recent study from the Harvard Business Review. Encourage the company culture where team members know they can come to you (or go to the right person) and ask for more training in order to live up to the standards you’ve set—and even surpass them.

5. Reinforce With Company Culture

This brings us to the hardest part: promoting the same passion you have and getting your staff equally interested in what they’re doing. But how can you get employees to work to your standards, the owner of a business, when it’s not theirbusiness?

For one, make sure you share company successes along with individual successes. You can permit yourself to brag a little if it opens an opportunity to talk about how awesome your business is, along with each of the employees who work there.

Permit me a minute on my soap box. There’s a big difference between confidence and conceit, right? With confidence, you strut and say, “I’m awesome.” But with conceit, you puff your chest out and say, “I’m better than you, and you, and you…”

Most of the time, we want to be confident, but not conceited.

In business, and to create the company culture that will promote standards of excellence, however, a little conceit is a good thing. Tell your brand story and make sure your staff knows the character roles each of them play. If you believe your brand really is better than the competition, how do you back that up?

One of the biggest factors is almost always the team that makes the company up. So make sure your staff knows that.

The right company culture will pay off in many ways. And combined with these other steps, you’ll finally be able to zero-in on that age-old question of how to train staff to work to your standards. If you haven’t already, get out your pen and paper and start with step 1 right now.

Questions? Leave us a comment below!

3 Questions to Create the Future

3 Questions to Create the Future

People might think of running a business as a solo endeavor, but the truth is that none of us can do it alone. In order to make a big impact in or contribution to the world, we need to share our vision with others, inspiring and motivating them to join us. This is leadership: creating a shared future together and working to implement it. And all of that happens in communication.

After returning from the Institute for Generative Leadership’s Foundations Workshop, the essence of leadership has never been clearer to me. While the program is truly an immersive experience, and one that I highly recommend business owners and leadership teams attend, I had a few key takeaways that I want you to start benefiting from now. So here are my thoughts distilled into three key questions for your team to ask every day to create strong communication and therefore greater business success:

1. What do we care about?

What we care about as individuals shapes every aspect of our life and work. When we’re connected with what we care about, we have value, meaning and satisfaction in our lives. When we don’t, we feel unfulfilled, unsatisfied and unhappy.

Similarly, every business owner gets into business to take care of something, to solve some need we identified in the world, and to do it our way. When we live and work in alignment with that care, things click and make sense, and we’re able to find flow. When we are surrounded by team members whose care is in line with ours and see them contributing to it, we flourish.

Yet so often, we’re distracted or cut off from our care. We bring team members into our organizations without clearly articulating our care or taking the time to understand theirs. Or we post our care on walls and in notebooks without living it day in and day out. The result is breakdown and burnout.

Define your care and keep it front and center every day. Don’t merely state it. Live it.

2. What shared language and understanding do we need?

Everyday we throw around words like “customer satisfaction,” “revenue” and “team.” Business conversations and meetings focus on the “how” around these ideas. How to increase customer satisfaction. How to bring in more revenue. How to build a team. But what if I have a different definition of what customer satisfaction is than you do? How can we possibly get on the same page when our language is not aligned?

We often make the unconscious assumption that others see the world how we do, because our history and our stories are so close to us. We fail to realize that there are other histories and other stories that shape the way those around us see the world — and the way they define words.

Generate a shared understanding of what words mean. Ask “what” before “how.”

3. What are our standards?

When standards are assumed and not spoken, it’s the same as asking other people to be mind readers. It’s simply unfair and unrealistic. When we assume that someone understands what we’ve never stated, we can bet that communication will break down. That in turn generates waste, dissatisfaction and distrust.

Our teams make many promises every day – to team members, promises to customers and vendors. In order for these promises to be trustworthy and shape the right action, we need to ensure that our standards mean the same thing to everyone on the team.

Clearly define and articulate your standards.

All of these questions manifest themselves in communication – the conversations we have, and the conversations that are missing. With alignment on care, a shared language to use in expressing that care, and commitment to standards, you have a “we” orientation from which to create the future together, one small step at a time.

Could your business use guidance in how to build better communication that drives success? Contact Kleriti Business Solutions today. We’ll help ensure that your team members have a shared understanding of future goals and how to reach them.