Yet, many micro- and small to midsize companies still perceive this human capital strategy as one tall order. However, these businesses no longer can afford to sit this one out or bask in complacent glory about “what got them to where they are today.”
- Competitors already are automating repetitive and error-prone human tasks.
- In addition, competitors are recording and storing tribal knowledge and processes in the cloud, instead of on paper.
- Most importantly, micro-, small to mid-size competitor businesses are paying more attention to how hiring processes impact customer acquisition and retention.
On one hand, it is easy to create a collaborative SMB workforce. Then again, it is difficult. Here’s why.
The beauty of working with SMBs is their smaller size. Their entire workforce is one team.
When Change is the goal, everyone gets to the finish line together because everyone starts the process together. Consequently, employees share a common bond as they co-create their collaborative SMB workforce.
Also, employees already serve in multiple functions due to smaller workforce mass. However, a rate-limiting factor is employees’ idea of multifunctionality. While employees may be multi-functional, they still tend to hoard their work in silos, instead of sharing across the business. Then, they may not intuitively connect the dots between the importance of and interrelationships between “what they do” and “what everyone else does” to acquire and retain customers.
In addition, legacy SMB models often reinforce employee lack of awareness or understanding of why cross-functional communication is imperative to creating enduring client outcomes.
On October 3 at 11 AM Eastern, I’m offering a free webinar about building a cross-functional, collaborative workforce of technical, engineering and business colleagues. Click here to register for my BrightTALK webinar, Why you can’t work with or sell to skeptical technical decision makers! I look forward to working with you.
As a result, creating a collaborative SMB workforce starts to deconstruct the rationale for hiring order-takers.
When each employee is committed to “doing their job” as posted in their job description, they only do their job as well as posted in said job description. They are order-takers, when the company desperately requires innovators.
Often, SMBs use canned, online HR templates for specific jobs. In addition, most SMBs have not updated these descriptions in forever. You get what you ask for. How often does a job posting use verbiage like: “gets along well with co-workers”? What personal and professional traits are implied, other than “follows directions” and “takes orders unquestioningly”?
How about asking for an individual who is: “highly creative, innovative and collaborative when working with people from different personal backgrounds and professional disciplines”? Of course, the latter potential employee merits a higher salary than the former.
The key to creating a collaborative SMB workforce is walking the walk instead of talking the talk.
A collaborative SMB workforce has co-ownership in executing an organization’s customer retention strategy. Why? Because everyone is responsible for the customer.
When you hire for innovation and collaboration, employees have higher expectations from each other and leadership, as well. It’s a two-way street and a small team big idea concept. However, if leadership has legacy, Us versus Them mindset, all they do is pay lip service to collaboration while hiring a workforce of order-takers, instead of collaborative innovators.
That is unfortunate, because the business case creates an incompatible SMB workforce of frustrated, under-hired employees. In addition, each employee has their own idea of what is involved in acquiring, serving and retaining customers.
In one SMB, a single, insubordinate employee went so far as to create his own parallel processes and systems for handling RFQs. Why? He was an order-taker hired to fill an overly-generalized job description. Yes, he passed the pre-hire screening process. However, over time, it became obvious that he was too proud to ask team members for help because he wouldn’t admit he did not understand what was required of him (or them).
Leadership called me in to clean up the mess. The first question I asked the entire team (including leadership) was: “How did one employee get the idea that his leadership, alone, is responsible for customer acquisition and retention?”
Ask yourself the same question. If this scenario sounds familiar or this blog post resounds with you, contact me. I have some impactful and beneficial workshops for you.
Babette Ten Haken is a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker. She serves organizations as a strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs refocuses individuals, teams and businesses on self-definition, purpose and the power of collaboration. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Do you know the Top 5 Negative Customer Retention Scenarios? Find out here.
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