Wisdom from the Small Fish

I really like small town newspapers. The big ones, like the New York Times and WSJ, are good for keeping up with world and national news and topics, but the little ones almost always end up with some gem of insight that shouldn’t be missed. I sometimes think of those larger papers and outlets as how you can feel the main pulse of the nation or the world, but if you want to see the details, you need to keep up with the smaller outlets.

That’s why I really end up liking little articles like this one from Binghamton, New York.

“Wanted: The good employee – Hiring and retaining quality employees is vital for success”

If you go read the article, you can find that smaller businesses worry about the same problems as larger businesses. Everything may be on a larger scale, but they’re still problems. And this little story presents good information about how to get good employees and use techniques that the big boys do.

Just because you’re a smaller business doesn’t mean that you can’t implement good evidence-based practices. If one of the problems that keep you up at night is how many employees that you’re losing to your competitors in their first year of employment, then use that to guide your hiring practices. As William Ritter says in this article, look for the red flags that will inevitably pop up in someone’s work history. Past performance is a very strong predictor of future performance. If you’re looking at a resume that shows a person stays at a job on average of at least two or three years, then you’re probably pretty safe assuming that they’re not going to job-hop.

While larger companies have realized the benefits of retaining quality employees and have enacted programs to do so, many small businesses don’t recognize the cost benefits of retaining current employees versus recruiting and training new workers, Ritter said.

“Some of the large companies have been doing these things for years,” Ritter said. “Small companies never seem to get around to it.”

The nature of our mobile society means employees will leave a job if they don’t feel valued, he said.

These are some very true words that even small businesses can embrace. One of the first jobs that I left, I left because the company didn’t understand this. No matter how many pieces of machinery they purchased, if they lost all of their skilled employees, they’d be crippled and lose their market positioning. In the end, that’s exactly what happened. They failed to keep the best people, and were bleeding all of their talent out into the market. So, in the end, their competitors gobbled them up,  even though the competitors were far smaller.

Just because your business is a small fish in the pond, there is no reason that you can’t use the same evidence-based practices that larger businesses do. Sometimes, that’s how smaller businesses become larger businesses.

Your people aren’t your greatest resource; they’re your only resource. Without them, your place of business becomes a storage facility, holding all of the equipment that does nothing without them.

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