Getting the very best out of your people is one of the most rewarding aspects of running an SME. Helping people to fulfil their potential and watching them grow is innately satisfying, and even more so if they fuel the company’s growth themselves.
Identifying talent shouldn’t be too difficult, but knowing the difference between someone that is great at their job, as opposed to just good, is far more subtle, says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans.
“What you are looking for is a strong mindset. Anyone can learn to do IT, to a certain level, for example. But not everyone can learn to do it well, and not everyone has the mindset to understand why what they are doing works.
“We’ve seen people who aren’t very technically minded who learn by rote and then we have people who have a good mindset who look at situations and ask why things are happening, looking at the root cause opposed to just the symptoms.
“The difference between those two types is that one understands why the problem is happening, tries to resolve it but knows when to draw the line and escalate it. The other sits on a problem for three days, trying to resolve it without really knowing the cause or trying to identify it.”
When hiring, Marcus says he always looks for a strong cultural fit and beyond that whether they are affable and likeable. If they’re good on the phone, good at talking to clients and they get on well with peers and colleagues there’s a strong chance they will be a success at the company.
“It’ important to keep in mind that the role you hire someone for isn’t necessarily the best role for them. Repurposing is an extremely important for developing talent and for managing staff in the business.
“If someone is a strong cultural fit and has good soft skills but is poor technically you have two options. One is to train them to bring their technical skills up to scratch.
“The other is to find a role for them in the company that is a better use of their current skills. If they flourish in either scenario it’s a good situation for the employee and employer and so sometimes you have to be brave and move around the team.
“Keep in mind also that you don’t hire people for their weaknesses, but for their strengths. And while it’s important to work on weaknesses, it’s even more important to lean on strengths so that ultimately you have a group of people that are working to their full potential. This makes life better for both them and us, and allows us to make sure we can help clients in the best possible way”