Rookie HR Mistakes Every Entrepreneur Makes

We’ve all been taught that the key to success is working hard, putting in the (over)time, and climbing whatever ladder one has chosen to pursue.

We use salaries and job titles to gauge our progress. But the old model of money-based compensation is dying. Nowadays the real determining factor for success is personal fulfillment. How much one actually enjoys his or her job is often a far more important indicator of career satisfaction than how much money they make and that should, in turn, affect how think about our hiring and management practices as successful entrepreneurs.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced is creating the right balance between moving my business forward and creating an environment with which people feel genuinely connected.

It’s a fairly well known business principle that a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic rewards is needed to keep employees engaged. And yet more people are placing higher value on intrinsic (over extrinsic) rewards. Furthermore, the kind of people who prioritize the pleasure they take in their work over more obvious (tangible) rewards, are precisely the ones you want on your team! Not only do they show higher levels of loyalty and engagement, they’re just that much cooler to be around and will help build the kind of environment others will want to take part in as well.

No matter what stage you’re at with your business, you need to focus on how you view your team. If you see the people around you as working FOR you, something’s off. Being a good employer doesn’t just mean treating everyone in your company with the respect and dignity they deserve, it’s about being the kind of person people want to work WITH.

While I’ve discussed in a past post the importance of communicating a clear vision to ensure everyone on your team is on the same page, what I’m suggesting here takes things a step further:

It’s not enough to have clear objectives. You need to find people who have personal goals, values, and a work ethic that coincides with your own. And attracting people like this means you need to have a strong sense of what you have to offer as an employer that makes your company special.

At a certain point it’s not just about your vision; it’s about sharing in something that can be theirs as much as yours.

5 things you can do as a leader to create a better work environment and improve job satisfaction for those on your team:

1) Set attainable goals: Don’t place unrealistic expectations on people. Make sure to create tasks that can actually be completed in the given time.

2) Give your full attention: As a leader you are setting the example. If you expect people to be invested and attentive, you need to be that way too.

3) Learn to let go: At some point you’re going to need to give up some control. Micromanagement doesn’t create an enjoyable work environment for anyone. Most of all you. There are times to lean in and get it done, and other times you need to let the situation play its course.

4) Check your own ego: Maybe you can do the job better or faster than someone else but not allowing others to learn and adapt will set you back in the long-run. Letting people face minor hurdles builds skills. But more importantly it builds trust. People like being trusted.

5) Be appreciative: It’s ok to tell someone you’re proud of them! You’d think that wouldn’t need to be said, but you’d be surprised how often something so simple can be forgotten. And how much of a difference little things like that can make!

While it may be hard to shift your thinking, you can’t rely on old HR models to carry you through. You need to move forward. Be bold. Be thoughtful. Be thankful. And stop being an Jerk!

Don’t let your reservations get in the way of your leadership commitment to the team. Come to work with intention and motivation for the day. Now more than ever you need to ask yourself why people come to work. And, with all the opportunities out there, why work for you when they could work with someone else?

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Kyle Nordman is the Principal and Co-Founder of Savoury Chef Foods and the Online Pastry Training Centre. A member of the Vancouver EO Network, Kyle is a firm believer in using technology as a tool for creative success and has a deep passion for sharing his expertise with others. Learn more or get in touch with Kyle at