It takes a unique type of person to become a successful entrepreneur — just crazy enough to believe that they can succeed despite long odds and heavy headwinds. Many entrepreneurs leading young, growing companies in a pandemic-impacted environment contend with more than just market forces and customer sentiment. Many are struggling to attract and retain the employees who contribute so heavily to their success.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s October 2021 report, 44% percent of small-business owners said it was challenging to fill open positions. This shouldn’t be surprising. People have been quitting their jobs in record numbers for months, ultimately reaching 4.5 million in November 2021.
But people aren’t leaving their jobs without cause. They are looking for better, more meaningful opportunities. Some want higher pay, while others desire more flexibility and autonomy. Most people are looking for respect and support. Regardless of the motivation, companies need a solution as staff turnover and persistent vacancies stifle growth and hinder long-term outcomes and priorities.
Entrepreneurs may be uniquely well suited to solve this problem. After all, entrepreneurs started as problem solvers who found a ready market for their skills or products. Perhaps by deploying that ethos in their everyday lives, entrepreneurs can deliver the people-focused outcomes that matter most.
Entrepreneur As A Leadership Style
Since the essence of entrepreneurialism is showing up to solve other people’s problems, these professionals are well positioned to show up for their teams, developing relationships and a workplace culture that leads to loyalty and retention.
However, for this to happen leaders must shift their perspective from a scarcity mindset where time and attention are finite resources to be excessively protected. Instead, they need to embrace an abundance mindset, prioritizing showing up to solve problems for others, creating limitless opportunities to develop and enhance their teams.
This is especially beneficial when relational tension, day-to-day stress and other factors make interpersonal investment feel less like a priority. When we view people from a generous perspective and invest in them, supporting them in their personal development, problems often dissipate and relationships can flourish. What’s more, when we invest in people while remaining committed to supporting them through their challenges, we generate new forms of relational currency that pay significant dividends, including goodwill and trust.
At my own company, we are investing in these priorities like never before, including offering employees one-on-one life coaching, three months paid sabbatical for every five years of employment and access to a four-course curriculum to support people in building lives they love. Conversely, leaders who don’t show up for their employees inevitably watch their teams walk out the door, wrongly believing that ancillary factors like compensation and benefits drove them to leave.
The Results Of Relationships
While many managers believe that their role inherently fosters employee trust, the reality is that they have to earn it by showing up for their people every day. When they do — when they build respectful and supportive environments — retention results inevitably follow.
Nobody works hard or stays in a position for a company or a brand. They work hard for their direct report. Trust is the backbone of every successful team of dedicated people who are highly engaged. In return for fostering an environment in which trust flourishes, managers can expect:
• Authentic Conversations: When people trust their leaders, they bring their genuine perspective, insights and intelligence to the table.
• Genuine Relationships: Employees won’t be afraid to share their concerns, shortcomings or needs when they know their managers want to support their growth and development, not punish flaws.
• Ongoing Endorsements: Employees use many outlets to share their work experiences, and the right messaging can improve hiring and retention outcomes.
• Enhanced Performance: Employees spend an inordinate amount of time on CYA activities in a fear-based environment — it’s been estimated at up to 50% of their time and attention. Imagine the improvement if 100% of their effort were directed toward actual productivity outcomes.
Companies of every size struggle to attract and retain top talent. Many offer raises, adapt workplace models and develop new enticements. But the most effective solution is to invest in your people, building a nurturing and supportive environment where people can thrive. Investing in and supporting people in profound ways engenders trust, loyalty and ultimately employee retention.
By Michael McFall