One of those challenges of owning and operating a small business for us has been striking that balance between eliminating bureaucracy but still having some level of formal process. Every person joins a company for their own specific reason. Some choose to join a small company as opposed to a large company for the personal attention that they can get from the management. Others meanwhile join for the exact opposite reason. They view it as a way to get out from under the red tape that is required to do anything at a big company or as a way to be left alone and not climb that typical corporate ladder.
Over the past few years we have tried to implement processes that fit everyone and we have recently realized that this doesn’t work. It may work for the majority of your staff but it could also be ruining that small company experience for some others.
One of the areas we have struggled most with this is in the area of training and career development. Some of our staff like the flexibility that their jobs offer and as a result are happy in that position and have no desire or plans to switch jobs. In the past we have still required those individuals to tell us what training they want and have encouraged them to complete training to prepare them for a future position they may have no desire to pursue. Some people though are content doing what they are doing and don’t want to “waste” time going to a class to learn something they have no desire to do.
As a result we are currently implementing a program that I am very excited about. It doesn’t have a name or anything flashy. It’s just in simple terms a program that is flexible and caters to the desires of each specific employee. We are in the process of meeting with each one of our employees and getting a better idea of what their career golas are and what level of assistance they require from us as a company.
Several of our staff are early on in their careers and have big plans for what they hope to accomplish. For those individuals we will work with them on how to best reach their goals. We can help them identify the proper training courses to take, the next positions that make the most sense for them to step into etc. It will also help us to better understand what they are looking to achieve and make their experience with our company as memorable as we can.
Likewise we have several staff on board that are happy with what they are doing. They joined our company to get away from the bureaucracy of a large company and largely want to be left alone. These individuals do a fantastic job for us and the last thing we want to do is to annoy them with requests to fill out training plans and career plans if thats not something they are concerned about. Our goal with them is to make sure they are aware that we are more than happy to offer them assistance here but we are also more than happy to leave them alone to let them do their jobs. Also, if they change their mind down the road our door is always open to discuss this as well.
This has been really rewarding for us as small business owners. It’s yet another example of something that really bothers some people at some companies that we are able to put our own stamp on within our company and do it differently. Why does everyone need to go to a week of training each year? Why does everyone have to change jobs every 2 years? Why does everyone need to know where they hope to be in 5 years? The answer from our perspective is…they don’t!