Earlier today - International Women's Day - I was reminiscing about an entrepreneurial women’s conference that I attended a few weeks ago.

Though all of us had owned and operated our own businesses anywhere from three to over 25 years, the background of the attendees was diverse. Some businesses were started simply by two people sharing an idea. Other attendees bought established businesses from parents or colleagues, while many launched their start-ups on a proverbial shoe-string.

Still, we had something in common.

One of the conference’s first speakers asked the group what we felt was our biggest challenge in business. As several in the group shouted out various staffing issues, she asked how many of us would consider HR concerns as one of our top three challenges. Every hand went up.

Not surprisingly over the two days, several presenters focused on a number of areas related to people / staffing issues faced by businesses today. I came away from the conference with several sound ideas, including:

  • 1. When hiring, use the right tools. Assessments can be an essential and impartial part of the interview process.
  • 2. Develop a strong orientation program.
  • 3. Make certain you keep up to date on HR legislation and government requirements.
  • 4. It is important to align every employee and their role with the company’s vision and goals.
  • 5. Set individual goals and expectations with employees, then provide feedback on their progress on an on-going basis. Be quick to acknowledge their contributions.
  • 6. Remove toxic, unsuccessful employees as quickly as possible. Not doing so will impact other staff and your business outcomes.
  • 7. Always be authentic when dealing with your staff.
  • 8. Find ways to provide on-going learning and development for your staff. This will keep them interested and challenged, and adds to the competiveness of your organization.

When I left the conference, I had pages upon pages of valuable notes on business culture, business planning, value proposition development, and conditions for success - along with staffing issues. More importantly, I had several key goals written down, with action dates to ensure a commitment to follow through.

All in all, it was a great way to invest two days - away from the office - to work on my business.

About Dale

Dale Wilcox is co-owner of WATMEC. Dale is a respected board member, former volunteer of the year, and inaugural Chair of the Canadian Society for Training and Development.