Leveraging the passion and talent within your workforce

Ever stopped to think about just how valuable the people in your workforce are? Ian Fuhr, CEO of Sorbet, is an example of someone who invests in employees and reaps the rewards. He is a firm believer that you can’t motivate employees, but that you should create a work environment conducive to people motivating themselves.
By Pieter Scholtz

According to research by Gallup, an American research-based, global performance management consulting company, employees who are given the opportunity to use their strengths on a daily basis are six times more likely to be engaged on the job. While the onus primarily falls on the individual to constantly improve their skills, the business also has a responsibility to find ways to leverage existing talents and ensure that these are woven into the business itself.

Making an investment in existing staff is also an excellent way to attract new talent. When word gets out that you and your business take the time and resources to build and enrich your workforce, new candidates and graduates will come flocking. Giving these employees the tools and skills they need to motivate themselves will ensure that they’re always hungry to learn more and improve.

Hiring above your weight class
It starts with the recruitment process. When an HR employee is inundated with CVs for a specific role, they need to constantly bear in mind what this individual will need to do on a daily basis, as well the kind of skills they would require.

In my experience, far too many business owners are trying to manage tasks they don’t have the knowledge or expertise for. Why would you hire an individual with a role in mind and then block them from letting their skills shine? Optimise your employees as they are your business’ most crucial resource. Owners need to put their egos aside and understand that hiring someone who is more knowledgeable about an aspect of their business than they are, is the best thing they could do for their business.

When it comes to goals, be flexible!
While it is fundamental to set big goals — the ones that form the overarching premise of why the business exists — they should not be the be-all and end-all. Businesses need to focus on the small goals too. These smaller goals are the ones that crop up along the way and have the ability to change the course of the business altogether.

Fear not, this is not a bad thing. When working with people there are bound to be changes and businesses need to do everything in their power to deal with these in an agile way. Don’t get stuck holding on to something that’s merely a stepping stone. Create a new stone — or tweak the current one — and move forward.

Weave skills back into the workforce
A great example of where businesses fall short has to do with courses, conferences or other study opportunities that employees could participate in. These days it’s very rare for a business to not allow an individual to study further, but often this is simply to tick a box under the umbrella of social responsibility.

A primary focus should be to invest in these employees’ learning and let them get out there and take advantage of the opportunities. By encouraging them to apply what they’ve learnt and teach others how to do the same, owners will ensure that these skills aren’t lost if the person happens to leave the organisation.

If you look at Ian Fuhr’s business philosophy, it becomes clear that the success of a business lies largely in its approach to its people. It’s about the culture of the business and how you nurture and develop your team. Says Ian, “At the end of the day, what it comes down to is how you serve the people who serve the people.” Skilled, motivated and happy people make good business sense in every way.

Share the vision
Having a vision and dream for your business is one thing, but it will do nothing if it stays locked in your head. Sharing the business vision with those you work with is extremely important. With this in mind, they will always know what they are working towards and ensure that they strive for the same success at every turn.

Very few people realise this, but the company’s vision is also fundamental when entering into the hiring phase. Firstly, the job description needs to intrinsically outline company culture and vision so as to attract the right people.

Secondly, when applications start flooding in it is important to eliminate candidates who don’t see eye-to-eye with your business’ vision. For example, someone might hate answering to a superior but in some cases — like an environment where a traffic department is needed — this could be the only way to function properly. In that case, this person would not be a great fit for your business.

One great way to establish whether someone will work well in your environment is to get to know them and understand what makes them tick. This might make the hiring process a little lengthy, but it will ensure you’re hiring like-minded people who have the ability to take your business to new heights. Your employees are the backbone of your business and the ones who will ensure that these goals are reached, so it is important that they understand and, most importantly, believe in your business goals.

Focus on your biggest asset: the people
Going back to the example of Ian Fuhr and the success of Sorbet — his story is the perfect example of a business owner who elevates an individual’s purpose and what they do, beyond just making money. His outlook has taken him and his business from strength-to-strength and his passion for helping his employees go the extra mile has helped him build a loyal, passionate and switched-on workforce.

Remember that if you’re not willing to let your best people do what they do best, they will go elsewhere to shine and stand out. Lead them, teach them and then let them go and get the job done by using the skills you have helped them harness. By making what you want to achieve clear to your employees, they’ll have the ability to achieve their goals without having you micromanage their efforts.