Staffing Up

My advice to employers:Don’t fall in love with your employees.

The first time I was going to hire someone, I made a list of everything I needed to “complete me.” Right or wrong, I thought hiring someone was the professional equivalent to getting married. I had these grand expectations that my new receptionist would be with my company forever. She would finish all my sentences, share my work ethic, and care about the success of my company as much as I did.

I learned these expectations were too high to place on an inexperienced staff person. I was essentially setting her up to fail. I fell in love with the idea of what an employee could bring to the table and was heartbroken when my expectations weren’t met.

After several years, I came to the simple conclusion that most employees use the employer to better their career and most employers use their employees to better their business. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s really a “win – win” for both parties. Everyone gets what they want – success. Knowing this helped me make better staffing decisions (meaning, decisions without emotion involved.) Your employees have a plan for their life and some sense of direction. That direction might include your company and might not. But if they don’t have a plan, maybe you shouldn’t hire them to begin with.

It’s up to you to make sure a potential employee’s plan and skill set is a good match for your needs and goals. Recently, fans of the Bulls have been complaining about Carlos Boozer’s defensive skills. Yes they’re sub-par, but I would remind everyone that he was brought in primarily for his offense and not his defensive abilities. I’m sure the Bulls management isn’t surprised or concerned with what they’ve seen. They’re getting exactly what they thought they would when they brought him on. It’s no different in the creative industry. Your new employees aren’t going to magically re-invent themselves simply because they’re working for you. So practice due diligence and interview as many qualified candidates as possible; just don’t over think it. Follow the same instincts that made you successful in the first place. Employees need to be difference makers regardless of their responsibilities. They need to make your company better and they should know this from the start. I’m guessing you didn’t start your business with the goal of being average.

My advice to employees: Take initiative and make a difference. Put yourself in your employer’s shoes, and know that they’ve made an investment in you and they’re expecting it to pay off. The money set aside to pay you could easily be going to pay down a loan, purchase new equipment, expand space, or many other things. Respect this fact, and work your butt off. Most importantly, make yourself invaluable. Put your employer in a position where they can’t live without you. Be so dynamic that any move they make, or are considering making, has to include you. Take advantage of every minute you’re there, and every resource at your disposal. That means instead of updating your Facebook page, try mastering a new piece of software. Expand your knowledge to other areas of the industry, work on your people skills, and contribute as much as you can to the company’s success.

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