Small business support starts at home. In other words, that support starts with you. Who you hire; why you hire; how you motivate: these considerations are every bit as important as the products and services you are bringing to market.
Creating the right working culture, means hiring the right staff, which in turn means creating the right interview environment. And when you’re inviting new inductees into an all-encompassing world of new business, the ‘interview’ process works both ways.
There once was a guy who went for an interview at a notable ad-agency. He wore the right clothes. He said the right things. Then came the curveball: “So what interests you in general right now?” Flat line: the guy in question was in the ‘interview zone’; answering questions about his personal musings was the last thing on his mind. A five-minute ramble later, the interview ended. He didn’t get the job in the end.
The perceptive amongst you may have noted the guy in question is your humble author. While ambivalent feelings remain with regard to that particular interview, the interviewer was in that instant, right not to hire me. Because creating a work culture you want to be part of means bringing that culture to work, and even to the interview. File previous example under: #epicfail.
Your best business ideas and practice will stem from the people within your business — the very people who generate ideas. Sounds straightforward, but beyond the inane water-cooler moments we know and love, this means bringing you to work. And if you’re a startup with great ideas and minimal capital, whose to say you even have a water cooler?
As obvious as this may sound, the work you do isn’t actually what defines the culture of the workplace.
So why does this apply to you? Well these existential work-related issues are particularly pertinent in the type of extra-hour, late night reality that nearly every business requires. Your startup investment return depends wholeheartedly on the type of investment opportunities your team feel obliged to share. Google understood this narrative of building from within, hence the hugely successful management philosophy known as ‘20% time.’
Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin highlighted the idea in their 2004 IPO letter:
“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”
Such ideas might seem like suicide until one considers that previous 20% products include the development of Google News, Gmail and AdSense.
So whether you’re starting a business from the ground up, or whether you’re on the proverbial third floor, the same rules apply. In these instances, hiring people who are willing to get their hands dirty, who bring added character and value to the workplace beyond the skill set attributable to a job title, are what employers need to be astute to in the interview process.
What we’re talking about here is attitude. And having the right attitude. Considering an ‘unfinished article’ may be unearthing of employee gold. A desire to be trained is an asset you need to be consciously looking for. Further more, these are the qualities that as a ‘boss’ are your job to identify and foster.
In old-school football parlance, they call this ‘man management’, because management after all, isn’t just about the broad-brush strokes, but how you mix the colour’s in order to your business tick. To draw on another well-worn phrase, let’s call it a ‘win-win’ situation.
Originally written for Enterprise for London