Anyone who has worked in the recruitment/HR/helping-sort-out-the-people-stuff space for any length of time will have heard a remark along the lines of “Good staff are hard to find!”, once or twice (or perhaps a few hundred times if you’ve been around the traps as long as we have!).

And while it can be tempting for us seasoned campaigners to just roll our eyes and push such remarks to one side, there is a fundamental reality we can’t ignore.

It’s true after all: Good staff ARE hard to find.

And for the owners and managers of small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs), it’s a truth that comes with some very real implications: without good staff, who’s making our stuff, who’s selling our stuff, who’s servicing our customers, how on Earth can we possibly grow the business?

But more important than recognising the issue is how as business owners and managers we respond to the challenge.

Yeah, good staff ARE hard to find. So what are YOU going to do about it?

Sadly, my 25 years + experience tells me that most SME business owners and managers won’t do anything about it. All too often it goes in the “Too-Hard Basket”, or it’s “something for another day”, or my pet hate “It is what it is” (with the implication that there’s nothing I can do about it).

Well you know what? To me that spells O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-Y. If the majority of SME business owners and managers are thinking that way – it’s all way too hard, there’s nothing I can do – think of the opportunity, the COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE, in YOU thinking differently. What if you’re the business owner or manager in your occupation or market who’s thinking differently? Recognising the opportunity, putting yourself out there, building a reputation as an employer of choice, positioning yourself as the “go to” person/business in the industry?

Think about what that might do for your business….

As I write this, one of our SME clients in the health and wellbeing industry comes to mind. Insofar as we can determine, the business actually pays recent graduates at a lower rate than his competitors (not ridiculously so, probably about 10%), yet they’re still able to attract quality candidates in a competitive market fairly consistently. How? Well for a start, the owner has a clear vision for the business, supported by clear values, a strategy focused on growth, a solid leadership team and an exceptional professional development program focused on graduates. Graduates that join the team may well know that they’re initially earning a little less than their fellow-graduates in other businesses, but they also know that they’ll be working in an established, professional business and develop into seasoned, highly-capable professionals within just a few years.

So, if you’re in my camp, primed and ready to go, to get out there and grab those good people (n a fully-consensual way of course), where do you start?

For me, there are two “must haves” before you embark on this journey from business goodness to greatness:

The first is ensuring that you, and your business, have CLEAR VISION, VALUES AND STRATEGY in place. Generally speaking, people love to be part of something, to feel a sense of belonging, a sense of relatedness, a common purpose…. Yet, sadly, so few SME owners and managers put time and energy into focussing on this stuff…

What about your business? What’s your VISION – where are you heading? What are your VALUES – as a business, what’s most important to you, what are your non-negotiables, what do you stand for, what do you want to be known for? And what’s your STRATEGY – what are the steps you are going to take to achieve your vision, what people and resources do you need, how does each role within your business complement the vision?

The second “must have”, is EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP. Leaders at all levels in a business need to be aligned with your clear vision, values and strategy. They need to be relatable, authentic, empathetic and capable.

There’s an old adage about “people don’t leave jobs, they leave bad bosses”. While not the complete answer, there is in my experience an element of truth to it. Be sure that you and other leaders in the business are leaders that others want to be led by.

Yeah, I agree, good people ARE hard to find.

So what can YOU do about it?

Well, for a start;

Tip 1: Ensure your business has Clear Vision, Values and Strategy
Tip 2: Focus on building a team of Effective Leaders
Tip 3: Find out more by taking the free Success Through People Scorecard and accessing your 14-page report packed with tips to improve your business.