Our Most Important Asset: Our People | NAWBO

At NAWBO, we know our most important asset is our people—the amazingly talented and diverse women business owners who lead this organization and its chapters and who are part of our membership experience, voice and impact.

It’s the same in our businesses. The people who make up our organizations matter. They are the reason why our customers choose us, and continue to want to partner with us. They are also why our team members come to work for us and stay. People want to work with people they like, admire and feel supported and inspired by.

So how do you get the best people, develop them and encourage them to stay? Here’s what the experts tell us:

Over-Communicate: Create a world where they feel comfortable talking to you. They care about different things and have different ambitions, and those can change over time. You want them to know they can come to you about these things.

Hire “Friends”: It’s the harsh truth but many people in the hiring pool are unemployed for a reason, whether it be their work ethic or values. Birds of a feather flock together, so always ask your most amazing employees and colleagues if they know anyone first.

Be the Leader They Need: Top talent want to know they are “top” but also want your leadership. Many experts say to hire people who are smarter than you and then challenge them with all that you have to keep them interested, invested and challenged.

Think Values, Desire, Character: Your business needs values and to stand for something. Hire people who share your values, desire and character. People can look amazing on paper but aren’t a fit culturally. Be sure to ask questions to help you determine if someone is good all-around.

Take Your Time: When your hiring process is slow, you both get the opportunity to feel what it would be like to work together, negotiate and resolve differences. Also, consider getting to know your prospective hire in a social setting if possible.

Give Them Reason to Stay: Money isn’t everything. Same with benefits. But they are certainly important. Look at what you are offering your talent every year to make sure it’s competitive. For small businesses, it’s harder to compete with the big firms, so look at other perks you might provide, like flexibility.

Recognize the Work: Everyone likes to be appreciated and thanked for their hard work. Look for ways to catch your team doing things right. Thank them on the spot or mention them on a group call. There’s also still power in a personal, hand-written note!

Develop, Develop, Develop: No one likes the same place, same thing. Your talent will get bored if you don’t make their development a priority. Build a mentorship program. Encourage taking online classes (many are free). Consider cross-training. Also, recognize growth by promoting from within!

Lastly, promote collaboration. While we’re all strong on our own in our businesses, we’re even more powerful together—just like we are in NAWBO. Make sure your team is working together whenever possible and bringing their diversity and strengths to the table. The results will be a constant reminder of why your people matter.

—Cristina Morales Heaney
  2020-2021 NAWBO National Board Chair

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