Why do you hire people?

The obvious answer is to help your business grow. Although there's nothing wrong with that answer, it shouldn't end there.

Hiring people solely for your benefit--without much concern for what matters to the employee--actually can hinder your enterprise.

Many entrepreneurs make this critical mistake; it's high on the list of reasons why so many startups fail. Too many business owners hire employees they can pay the least and provide minimal training, with no concern about their employee's aspirations.

The entrepreneurs get what they pay for: Mediocre employees who give mediocre effort and produce mediocre results. Or worse.

If you want to build a world-class company, you must fill it with star employees. To recruit them, you must pay attention to what matters to them--not you.

That includes providing realistic opportunities to advance. Talented workers today aren't satisfied to do their current job forever; they want to know that they can rise to higher echelons, including to supervisory roles and management.

At my firm, we've created what we call a ladder of career development. Here's the general idea:

  • Those on the bottom rungs do a decent job and don't create problems, but are oblivious to the problems that exist around them.
  • Those at the next level are aware of problems but say nothing about them--except to each other. They don't inform management, who can fix the problems.
  • Standing on the next rung of the ladder are solid performers--staff members who regularly inform management when they observe problems or see improvements that can be made. When they start offering solutions, we promote them to the next level.
  • The top rung feature our best employees. They not only identify problems, they offer solutions to fix them. My firm's leaders fix problems whenever they arise--often without my even hearing about them.

Do you have a plan that allows for your employees to rise through the ranks, like our ladder approach? We've found that having a well-defined career development path to be very valuable for our employees, and it's also proven to be an excellent way to attract and keep top talent that lets our firm grow.