One of the most difficult parts of being a young entrepreneur is hiring the right people. And once you have the right people in the door, it can be even more difficult to keep them happy so that they stick around.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the organization I serve would have not gotten off the ground if it weren’t for my team of extremely talented colleagues. Beyond their natural talent, I like to think that some of my team’s strength and motivation came from the positive practices we developed within our own walls, virtual as they may have been at the outset.
The Global Good Fund’s mission is to accelerate the leadership development of high potential young entrepreneurs to achieve social impact. But our objectives to foster leadership aren’t limited to the entrepreneurs we invest in; we invest in our team too.
I was honored when one of our fantastic summer interns said that “being a part of The Global Good Fund was like taking a leadership development course.”
So what is it about our team and our values that make us tick? Bottom line: we make investing in our employees a priority.
Here are the 6 best ways (proven from our own practices) to properly invest in YOUR colleagues:
1. Get Your New Hires Started On The Right Foot – Coach Them Up!
One of the reasons new hires joined your company is because they see your organization as a great fit for their ambitions. Reassure new hires that they made the right decision in choosing to work for you by getting them started on the right foot in your organization.
Pairing a new hire with an internal ambassador allows new hires to be trained by a trusted colleague in an unintimidating, casual environment. It allows your new hire to establish meaningful relationships with other colleagues in the organization from day one, which will put them at ease in a new work atmosphere. Further, it creates a shared learning experience that empowers “old hires” to practice leadership skills that help them grow within your organization.
2. Put Your Employees In Stretch Role
If you hire the right people, they will be driven and will want to grow beyond their starting position. They will seek to go after stretch roles in the company and will be eager to take on new responsibilities that allow then to “climb the ladder.”
But in so many situations, employees do not get the chance to prove themselves in these roles and are stuck in the same position for years. As a result, many employees lose motivation, decide to move on to greener pastures, and leave the company.
Try giving people ownership of projects and put the decision-making capabilities in their hands. While it may be scary at first, handing over the reins on targeted projects gives employees a sense of ownership, authority, and responsibility within the organization.
Having trust in your employees and putting them in stretch roles will also help them iterate their management and leadership skills, growing the team through trial and error.
3. SUPPORT Your Employees In Stretch Roles
So you put your employee in a stretch role… Now what? One common mistake I see is giving employees the opportunity to prove themselves in stretch roles, but then not giving them the support and tools they need to thrive in the new roles.
To help avoid this scenario, encourage employees to take risks and go for that stretch role. Then support employees through continued coaching and in-house training to help them succeed in their new roles. As CEO, I try my best to make myself available, aiding directly in the development of my employees. Beyond formal coaching and training in-house, I make sure my employees know they have an opportunity to get mentored by professionals outside the organization. Several members of the team have taken me up on the offer and we consider it crucial to our business to help them find appropriate mentors externally.
4. Hire Within
The process of scouting out potential new hires, interviewing candidates, and managing new hire orientation/training can be daunting and a huge time suck. One way to avoid this bottleneck is to hire in-house. Instead of playing the risky guessing game of bringing new people onto your team, why not leverage the talent of your existing team members for new and exciting roles in your company?
When hiring for new roles in house, you are already fully aware of a candidate’s professional capabilities and his or her ability to work with your team. In addition, allowing employees first dibs at new roles within your organization keeps employees motivated and demonstrates your loyalty to them and their professional development.
At The Global Good Fund, we like keeping our people in house and helping them grow professionally, in addition to hiring new people when necessary. We take many measures to help our employees grow and become effective leaders, including support for personalized leadership development and time spent on issues like personal finance that employees perceive to be an added bonus of doing their jobs. Going the extra mile to keep employees maintains our team cohesion and builds on the strength of our core values.
5. Ask Your Employees To Identify And Share Their Goals – Hold Them Accountable!
Having employees draft goals and development is common in many organizations. The key, though, is to keep on top of these goals and actually continue to work with employees on achieving their goals.
As opposed to drafting personal aspirations only to have them stored in a filing cabinet, we work together to hold each other accountable and to regularly take actionable steps towards achieving personal and professional ambitions.
To do this, I have my employees and interns write down their goals – both personal and professional goals (financial, hobbies, family etc.). Not only do my employees identify their goals, but they are also responsible for mapping steps for how they will accomplish their ambitions. Every team member then has the opportunity to share his or her goals with colleagues, resulting in accountability and visibility into each other’s aspirations. From there, we have personal achievement sessions and fun team meetings around achieving personal goals. I perceive such meetings to be as important (if not more important) than our long-term strategy meetings. After all, there is no long-term strategy without our people!
6. Encourage Employees To Explore Their Strengths and Weaknesses
My colleagues take ownership of achieving personal and professional goals because we set goals as part of a team effort. The result is that we work hard to uplift and coach each other.
Beyond goal-setting, one great way to invest in your colleagues is by helping to bring awareness to their strengths and weaknesses so that you both have an understanding of the best ways to leverage skill-sets within the company. Making this investment allows employees to determine where they could use additional support in their leadership development and gives you visibility into how to train and mentor colleagues moving forward.
At The Global Good Fund, members of our full-time staff are currently taking our trademarked leadership assessment tool in order to identify their own leadership capabilities, strengths, and areas for improvement. Then we have a conversation about how the individual’s strengths and weaknesses apply in our organization and how, through a leadership development plan, we can grow our people and thereby grow our business. We plan to make the leadership assessment tool we use publicly available in the future, but for now it has been a great tool to test out on our own team as we grow together.
Our business is about accelerating leadership development – and we practice what we preach. We know that in order to coach young entrepreneurs on leadership skills, to arm them for future success, everyone within our organization needs to be a strong leader as well. As such, we make it a priority to invest in our employees to continually help them towards self-improvement and excellence – both personally and professionally.
Your Turn: What are some tips you have for investing in your colleagues to keep them happy and to help them grow?
Carrie Rich is the co-founder and CEO of The Global Good Fund, an organization dedicated to investing in the leadership development of high potential young entrepreneurs committed to social impact. Carrie enjoys photography, other people’s cooking and jogging, on occasion.
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