To succeed in business, amongst other things, you need the best employees who are competent, know the business and are willing to put the company before self-interest. But how do you know if people are competent? I have previously blogged about the importance of employees but if you are going to pay somebody to be part of your growth plans, you want to know that they fit in and are doing that which is required to benefit the business.

In short you need a Position Description and some way of measuring performance. Is that groaning I hear in the background? More processes that takes the owner away from running the business! While many of the organisations I have been a part of, vary between very time consuming and all encompassing processes to nothing, there are effective ways to make the HR processes work for the organisation.

By the way, if any process or procedure does not contribute to current or future improved business performance, it should not be pursued!

Let’s take an example. You have decided you need another pair of hands, so you decide to employ somebody. You have two choices here. Advertise and take the first person that comes along, or take some time to work out what is required and then focus on filling that role with an appropriate person. So how do you know what is required or indeed that you need a new employee?

Let’s say you have now employed somebody. On their first day what do they do? How do they learn the role you have employed them for and how are you going to determine if they are able to fulfill your expectations? Finally, the person turns out to be competent, but you notice that some of tasks being done overlap with that being done by your star employee. Both people become frustrated because of the duplication, and you are paying two people to do the same job. Is this scenario sustainable for the employees or for you?

In any situation where people are employed, there has to be a vision of what is required and who is going to complete the tasks. As the business grows and the tasks become more numerous, these too have to be completed. Who now completes these new tasks? Position Descriptions provide the basis for understanding why a job exists and what each of the tasks are that need to be undertaken and completed. The Position Description also gives people an opportunity to understand their autonomy in the role. Ideally there will be minimal overlap of tasks, as the sum of all Position Descriptions should cover all the activities that the business undertakes on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Finally the Position Description should be used as the basis for recruiting new employees. It helps the owner determine if new employees are required and what their tasks will be. Position Descriptions do not have to be complicated documents, but are important to understanding what is expected from each employee.

So the next part of determining employee competence is to measure how they are performing. So how do you do that? I am talking here about performance reviews. These can be notoriously time consuming and bureaucratic, but can also be streamlined to be far more efficient and effective. SME’s have a good feel for how their employees are performing and this should be reflected in the feedback process. As a manger of people, you are responsible to ensure that “Your employees are doing the right thing and are doing things right.” You need tools and guidelines to help do this so that everything is consistent with your vision of the business. So what I am proposing should not be seen as one of those activities that takes you away from running the business, but as something you are doing to ensure that the business is growing and prospering and that the employees are contributing to the business performance. If they are not, why are they still on the payroll?

The Objective for a performance review process is:

  1. To assess individual's achievement against business objectives and identify areas for improvement in current performance
  2. Develop Personal Objectives to ensure that individuals have a set of personal objectives, that link to the team and businesses objectives (the Position Description provides the basis of objectives).
  3. The development of individuals that have the skills and abilities to help the business grow and deliver both their and businesses future potential.

A good process will deliver an objective way to measure performance, a window on what the future business structure will look like, a systematic way to validate recruitment, promotions & skill development and a platform whereby the star employees are given an opportunity to shine. In my view it will also improve the employees satisfaction and engagement, as they will know that what they are doing is contribution to the success of the business.

Ultimately you will know if the HR aspects of the business are contributing to the business growth by the business’s profitability. Your employees may not be the only reason for your success or failure, but they will certainly contribute to the business’ performance.

Are your employees really your most important asset?

If you have any questions about any of this or would like to further discuss this or any other aspects of your business’ health, please contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.