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Planting a seed that will grow: How to find, choose and retain excellent employees

Planting a seed that will grow: How to find, choose and retain excellent employees

by Schellene Clendenin, GoForth Institute

September 10, 2010

"When it comes to hiring...hire slow and fire quick."
So advises Dick Robinson, president of the Robinson Consulting Group, a unique human resources management consulting practice dedicated to helping growing enterprises achieve a competitive advantage through their people. He takes pride in being a human resources business expert delivering innovative, sustainable and cost effective solutions. 

Running a small business can be overwhelming. Daily decisions may include finding a company to produce a product to where to find the best shipping costs.
But what happens when the small business seed planted begins to grow? According to Robinson, you need to be prepared on how to find and retain the best fit to fill the new positions made available.
Robinson has more than three decades of experience in the human resources field, 10 of which have been utilized answering the myriad questions put to him by his small business clients.
While he works with larger corporations, Robinson said he preferred working with entrepreneurs because they are more fun to work with and they get things done - without the necessary bureaucracy of larger companies.
Most of his suggestions are just common sense, he said. 

  • Define roles up front, making it easier to wade through applicants quickly.
  • Don't hire in desperation. Find someone who is the right fit for your work environment - even if that employee takes longer to find.
  • Do your research to ensure you offer competitive compensation. "Be aware of what the market pays."
  • Sometimes its not just salary that attracts the best employees. Bonuses and benefits - such as stock options, signing bonuses and health insurance - can go a long way toward sweetening the pot for hardworking individuals who may have received offers from other businesses.
  • Be ready to pay for good performance. "Treat people well and pay them fairly," he said, for the most loyal hires.
  • To keep employees from looking for greener pastures, develop opportunities for growth, such as training and advancement options.
  • Create a positive work environment with pleasant physical surroundings; a good fit for the office culture; attention to health and safety needs; and the correct tools to do the job. "No one wants to work in a crappy office."
  • Be mindful of your leadership style and hire appropriately.
  • Create a performance rating system to let your employees know how they are doing - and in what areas there is room for improvement.
  • About.com recommends being creative with perks. Perhaps you don't have athletic facilities onsite - but you can offer a local gym membership.
  • If you can offer flexible hours, power naps, work at home options or the ability to bring a pet to work, be sure to include that in the benefit package, the Web site states.
  • Don't limit advertising for a position to a classified ad in a local paper. Job Web sites, college bulletin boards and word-of-mouth are added options to finding the employee you need.


Schellene Clendenin is a freelance journalist who specializes in covering the small and medium-sized enterprise scene.  She lives in Portland, Oregon with her scottish terrier, Angus. Contact Schellene: mighty_impatient@hotmail.com

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