Keeping Your Business Fit with HR
The thing that gets me out of bed every day is the energy I get from helping business owners grow and maximise the potential of their business.
I help them get business fit.
I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Chantal from the Fitness Business Podcast. She's a great interviewer and drew some insights out of me I want to share with you on my blog.
I have a background in the Fitness industry myself, and why you might think of Fitness as a unique business, at the end of the day they are managing people, processes and facilities.
Just like your business.
So, in no particular order, here's 4 HR tips you can apply to your business right now.
Give Yourself a Competitive Advantage
Without making generalisations, Fitness is an industry that doesn’t invest widely in proactive HR activities. This doesn’t make a lot of sense, given it is also an industry that depends so much on their people, their engagement, passion and customer or member service. It’s also an industry that often struggles to attract and retain talent.
But it's not just fitness. I can think of many small businesses that equally neglect basic HR principles and only look at policies and procedures in reaction to an issue like poor performance, high turnover or compliance.
But this is fairly common amongst lots of small to medium businesses across the board, so don’t beat yourselves up too much!
HR is an opportunity to give your small business a competitive advantage – I have and do work with many owners and managers who have invested proactively in annual HR plans (similar to annual Finance Budgets and/or Marketing Plans, but focused strategically and tactically on the people engine of their business) and are seeing greater alignment between the actions of the people in the business and the strategies of the business.
When You Should Hire a HR Manager
Generally speaking, once a business owner has about 50 -80 employees or are planning to grow, they will appoint a HR Manager (who may only be focused on the traditional, transactional aspects of the HR employee life cycle). If they have less employees they usually have someone who looks after the HR needs as well as something else (such as admin or accounts).
Either can work well if you have a good system with relevant industrial links and resources, and the appropriate HR resources to also stay focused on the strategic and tactical initiatives necessary to ensure the sustainability or growth of the business.
You can then balance the day to day operating tasks (like employing, paying and managing people) with useful activities to improve the alignment of the people engine with the overall business strategy.
Irrespective of business size, if you can find the right external HR resource, who can coach and support the business owner and/or internal HR resources, the business learns to fish, when it comes to making HR work strategically and tactically .
This approach not only saves time, money and headaches, but actually achieves really tangible business improvement and bottom line results.
Interview and Observe
To hire the right staff, you've got to ask the right questions. I like to ask behavioural questions, so that the candidates share examples of what they have done before in similar environment (whether it be a sales, service or team situation).
I don’t ask a lot of questions, but really probe to make sure they give a lot of descriptive detail about the situation, how they handled it and what the outcome was. This provides the best evidence in an interview – and I get them to do a lot of talking so I can really observe their behavior.
I always couple an interview with other forms of assessment before making a hiring decision. This might include psychometric and/or cognitive assessment; roles plays, skills tests, group activities, discussion, or reference checks. It sounds complex, but can be done quite simply and gives me real evidence that ensures a big decision like hiring someone, is a sound one.
The Good and Bad of Performance Reviews
I have mixed views about performance reviews as they are so dependent on the business and its unique culture.
I think the main reasons people neglect this is lack of time and lack of training and confidence in actually facilitating such a conversation. Managers need support and access to good resources in addressing performance conversations. I hate seeing performance reviews being done as a tick box exercise without any meaning or substance.
Formal reviews aren’t always essential in my view. Some businesses use an informal approach really well and provide meaningful feedback, set objectives and develop their people in other ways. Others use a formal process and it is well designed, well delivered and well received. What is really critical though is that any type of reviews are 2 way, open, honest and linked to development plans – rather than a negative or critical experience.
I usually work with the business owner to develop and implement a way that works for them and helps them achieve their overall business strategy. I love helping managers have meaningful performance conversations and have worked with leaders of all types of business to achieve alignment through developing a culture of accountability.
And me? I think I have the best job in the world. I love the challenge of an ever evolving business discipline- you never feel like you have it totally worked out. It’s a great balance of legal governance (I love the problem solving), systems and process (I love organizing and structure) and people (I love coaching and developing people and teams to be the best they can) and above all I love business – achieving results and improving outcomes.
I'd love to help YOUR business be the best it can be.