Just a few short months ago, my son started his first job. A graduate with a shiny new degree and a five-figure debt, he embarked on working life as a web developer and graphic designer.
The job search took a bit of time. It seemed as though everyone, everywhere, was looking for someone with a couple of years’ experience. Companies expected someone else to have taken the risks and invested the time training someone new.
The one to bite the bullet and take on a rookie with obvious ability but no commercial experience was small business owner with a rapidly growing design agency. A savvy businessman, he looks to his employees to bring the technical expertise and isn’t afraid to spot an opportunity where others might see a threat.
“The business is going from strength to strength”
What has been striking, is how utterly happy my son is in his job. He is absolutely buzzing with excitement, not least because his first designs for a client have already gone live with one in the final six for an award. Not for him hours of photocopying in a corner because everyone is too busy to bother with him. Not for him a restriction to mundane tasks because no-one is prepared to trust him. Nor is anyone taking any significant amount of time out to train him, yet he is learning every day. And the business is going from strength to strength.
“Everyone looks to be winning”
So this got me reflecting on what this company is doing to create a situation in which everyone looks to be winning. His boss has from the outset involved my son in client meetings, to give an insight into their issues and how to meet their needs. He knows that his new recruit, self-taught in coding, can learn independently and find solutions to problems, so he leaves him alone. Yet he gives regular time to review and nurture his new staff member, and in so doing is discovering new ways of working which are giving better service to his clients. Sounds like a result all round.
So here are some thoughts for small business owners thinking of taking on a new starter or even an intern or apprentice.
- It goes without saying - take the steps you need to find the right person with the skills and motivation for the job
- Embrace the new skills they bring. We all like to be valued for what we do, at any age, and we all need a sense of achievement.
- Challenge them. Let them have a go. You’ll be surprised what people are capable of if you give them a chance.
- Have the flexibility to change the way you work if this can bring better results.
- Have a training plan. Know what your new recruit needs to learn and how they fit with existing employees.
- Take time to coach, enough to review progress. You never know what you can learn from your employees to help you improve your business.
- Don’t shy away from time spent training. Your employee may decide to leave for pastures new. But they may well stay around. You will have the benefit of a home-grown employee who understands you and your business, and who will grow with you.
You can contact Susannah on [email protected] if you’d like to discuss how she could assist with training, coaching or other staff development issues.