The Eight-Shaper Guidelines towards Retaining Your Best Talent

Any organization runs on the life force of human beings. It is only natural then that a human resource department is a critical component of employee well-being in any business.

One of the basic functions when a business is set up is: employees must be hired, trained, motivated, satisfied and retained.

In fact, strategic management of the workforce can enhance business value significantly.

Human resource responsibilities include hiring and firing of employees, training, payroll, benefits and incentives, handling issues at the workplace and keeping up to date with and ensuring compliance of government regulations.

Any mix up or maladministration concerning these issues can not only cause major employee disenchantment, but also serious legal issues for a business.

In addition, lowering employee turnover is an important priority for all organizations.

This is because hiring new talent not only entails high cost, but also involves the additional concern that the newcomer may not replace the earlier one effectively. Add to that, re-training personnel comes with its own price.
The Entrepreneur as a Human Resource Professional

A small business or a start-up often cannot afford the staff or wherewithal to handle the nitty-gritty of human resources. Also, they often have to fall back on outsourcing their human resource needs, or, more often, handling the function themselves.

This is because whatever resources they have, are deployed in chasing customers, the markets or products. Therefore, support functions like a full-fledged Human Resource department come much later, probably, at the growth stage.

So, essentially the entrepreneur himself who has to don the mantle of a Human Resource professional in the early days of starting a venture.

When wearing the shoes of an HR professional, it is vital that the entrepreneur realizes that the decisions he takes at this juncture, shapes the entire organization, defining its culture, values and its image in the people’s mind.
The Eight-Shaper Guidelines towards Retaining Your Best Talent

While hiring is easier, it is retention that tests the ability of a good entrepreneur. It requires wisdom and a good understanding of human hearts to manage people.

The task could be even more daunting in a start-up, with many uncertainties looming over a disorganised structure.

The impatience of youth working in a start-up could also make them leave their job at the drop of a hat.

What then could help an entrepreneur invest energy in the right direction?

Read on to discover eight-shaper guidelines that will help you to retain your best talent.

Shaper #1. A great, stable and committed team
In the early days of a start-up, everything is a bit hazy. You may have a great idea, a sound business plan, but you are yet to test the waters.

So, in this fluid environment, when shapes of things to come are yet to emerge, what you need most of all is a great, stable and committed team.

Since there are no pick-up joints where you can go and pick a co-founder and perhaps a few core team members, you have to play this by the ear.

However, if your idea is a good one and you talk to people, put your networking skills to good purpose, the right person is sure to come along.

The important thing is your antenna should always be up, catching signals.

A point to remember here is to ensure that the people who wish to join hands with you in forming the core team are not doing so because they see money in the venture, but because they are captivated by your idea and passionately wish to see it enabled.

Shaper#2 Keep the culture flavor intact
The culture of an organization plays a vital role in its success. It is the culture that impacts the image of the organization and its flow.

Culture is reflected in the way you work, communicate with your colleagues, juniors and customers, and handle issues as the head of the organization.

It is this culture that will ultimately pervade the entire organization. If the top management is unethical in their dealings, the employees will follow suit.

A free flowing culture helps to attract and retain the best talent. It encourages freedom of thought and execution which enables innovation. It would be good to reflect on your own values and work ethics as you hire your first twenty employees.

Shaper#3 Passion Play
The only personal asset that you, as an entrepreneur, bring is your passion and commitment. If you have absolute belief in what you are doing, then your passion and commitment would be total.

Therefore, take the plunge only after you have convinced yourself of your idea’s worth. Remember, passion is contagious.

The business plan may have to incorporate changes at every junction or turn in the road.

If your colleagues have been propelled by your passion then these changes will not impact their decision in joining you.

On the other hand, if it’s the business plan which attracted them, they may not be amenable to changes in it even if it is absolutely necessary.

Therefore, go out there and display your passion, your utter conviction and belief in yourself if you wish to enroll others in your venture.

Shaper#4 Valuing values
When shaping the culture of your organization you cannot outsource this to someone saying, “Hey! I need some really good vision and values for my website and /or my company, something which will make an impact. So just get it done for me.”

Someone else cannot define or form your values for you. Your personal values are your own.

They are value systems and beliefs that define you as a person and impact the way you work, interact with your colleagues and clients, deal with issues etc.

Your organization, your employees will emulate your personal values.

Therefore, there can be no mismatch between your personal and your company’s values.

Shaper#5 Rule out the rules, if required
Too many rules make for flouting of rules and then enforcing them will mean penalizing erring employees.

All this makes for a lot of negativity. Often the best way of getting someone to follow rules is by scrupulously following them yourself.

If you have one set of rules for the management and another set for the general employees, it is going to be fraught with a lot of negativity and non-compliance.

Shaper#6 Flexibility matters
Human beings have a fragile core and need careful handling.

Each person is different from any other in terms of his/her personality, economic background, the work he/she does, their families and responsibilities and many other complex factors such as the health issues or tensions  they face at work, at home or in society.

This being so, one solution may not work for all.

This is where the human resource function becomes so crucial for the health of the organization. You have to treat your employees well, ensure that they are well looked after.

Also, by giving your colleagues the flexibility to rearrange their schedules, you create an environment where they will not demur on working late nights for example to meet some deadline.

Thus you can inculcate cooperation and commitment in your employees.

Shaper#7 Avoid closet tactics
It is not bad news but bad vibes and lack of trust which cause people to abandon ship.

Your core team or board members came aboard because you shared your dream of making it big, your ideas and plans with them and they wanted to be part of that dream.

But once the team is formed and the company is afloat, they find that you no more take them in your confidence.

You take your decisions arbitrarily or unilaterally, often not even communicating the changes or plans you have implemented.

This would only forge a divide between you and your staff. It is imperative that vision be shared, commitment be reinforced time and again.

Transparency builds trust and trust engenders loyalty and commitment. Even bad news has to be shared and dealt with as a team.

Shaper#8 Give freedom, bring accountability
While flexibility is fine, driving performance is paramount.

Therefore, enforcing accountability is crucial to the growth of the organization.

Giving the team sufficient leeway in performing their work, at the same time enforcing accountability can do much more to enhance performance in them.

A free, friendly, encouraging and comfortable environment is conducive to productivity.

Recognition of an employee’s achievements and rewards and incentives for work well done boost his morale. Also, if the team is convinced that the management has his best interests at heart it will repay in loyalty, efficiency and

The Engagement Angle
In as much as human beings fully realise their potential in activities that they find engaging, it is also the surefire way to rating and keeping them.

The youthfulness of a start-up could prove effective in tapping on the energy and vibrancy of many a youngster working in it.

It is natural then that an energetic and a wise entrepreneur will go a long way in keeping his/her people for long.

As Sam Walton, the Walmart founder, says:

Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.

Meanwhile, do share with us your challenges and experiences with retaining people.

This article is written by Sudeshna B Baruah based on a webinar by Manoj Shah, COO, PlugHR.