How to get people to work for you

Successfully getting people to work for you is a challenge that every business owner and entrepreneur must face at some point.

Work is naturally hard and therefore, people typically don’t jump at the opportunity to do it for you.

But with the right incentives, people are willing to work hard and will even derive joy and fulfillment from the tasks you lay out.

As a serial entrepreneur, I have needed to get people to work for me many times over the years. This article is all about the learnings that I have found to work best for hiring awesome workers who get the job done – the key is to get people to love working for you! Follow the tips in this article to hire talented workers who stick around for the long haul.

Why You Should Get People to Work for You

Getting people to work for you is a key part of business. As an entrepreneur, it’s tempting to try and do everything yourself. This can work out to get things started in the beginning, but once you start working on a successful business idea, you’ll quickly find that it’s impossible to run a one-man operation.

Growing a business requires that you either make a deep impact on a few people’s lives or make a modest impact on many people’s lives.

Impact is capped out for a single-person business.

Therefore, to grow and scale business operations, you have to create a team.

Getting other people to work for you allows you to build a cohesive team that gets more work done and ultimately makes more of an impact.

How to Get People To Work for You

People will work for you if you give them the right incentives. Here are 9 powerful ways to incentivize people to work for you:

1. Hire the Right People

The key to hiring good workers is to match the job with the person. When your worker isn’t a good fit for the job you have, the relationship is doomed from the start.

Misalignment can come in many forms, but a common form is when you or the worker has unrealistic expectations about:

  • pay
  • workload
  • qualifications
  • values

You can save yourself a ton of headache when seek out the ideal employee instead of hiring the first person that comes along.

One of the ways that I love finding good workers is by leveraging outsourcing platforms. In the past, business owners were limited to hiring people in their immediate vicinity. Nowadays, digital outsourcing platforms like Upwork allow you to search the global marketplace to find the ideal worker.

Whenever you need to hire someone, post a detailed job description on one of the myriad outsourcing platforms out there and invite specific workers to apply for the position. When you expand your hiring to a worldwide level, you are virtually guaranteed to find the ideal worker.

2. Provide Meaningful Work

Human beings are capable of overcoming anything when we believe in the cause. In fact, meaning is one of the most important factors in determining job satisfaction. I have personally found that giving a compelling reason for completing a task fosters employee enthusiasm and quality of output.

One easy way to do this is to regularly talk about the grand vision of your company and how your workers are contributing to that outcome.

NOTE: Meaningful work involves a vision bigger than yourself. In the past, I have fallen into the trap of selfishness and only talking about the benefits for me. Don’t do this and cook up a reason for helping others before yourself (and don’t worry, helping others will help you in turn).

3. Provide Growth Opportunities

The promise of a better life drives people to work hard so make sure you implement this into your hiring process.

The reality of growing a business is that there will be monotonous chores that just need to get done. Oftentimes, the boring tasks are the ones that you outsource first. This creates a catch-22 when you’re trying to incentivize your workers.

Don’t shy away from letting people know about where your business is at and the nature of the work. But always talk about the opportunities to move up. Let your workers know that they won’t be filling out spreadsheets forever and that you have big plans for them and their roles.

When pay increases, professional development, and personal growth are part of the picture, you’ll have talented workers clawing at the prospect of working for you.

4. Recognize People for Achievements

Recognize People for Achievements

People thrive off of positive reinforcement. When you recognize your workers for a job well done, they will be eager to keep improving.

A simple but incredibly effective tactic I have used to engage employees is the “sandwich technique”.

The sandwich technique involves giving feedback in layers:

  • First, give positive feedback on a task. Something specific you noticed that they did well.
  • Then, give a tip for improving for next time.
  • Follow up with more positive feedback and reiterate your appreciation for their hard work.

Giving feedback using the sandwich technique sets a gracious tone to your communications and ensures that people feel valued. Feeling valued combined with suggestions for improvement creates an upward spiral of positivity where your workers will be eager to perform even better.

5. Communicate Directly and Clearly

Clear communication is a key to healthy and productive work relationships. When you avoid confrontation and don’t get to the point, it creates confusion and frustration among your employees.

Many people (myself included) are tempted to use euphemisms and indirect language when having hard conversations.

Don’t do this.

Instead, confront hard conversations head-on and say it how it is.

People aren’t dumb, so you need to deliver bad news or criticism when it is needed. Your business goal shouldn’t be to have people “like” you, it should be to have them respect you and trust you. Your workers should trust that you will always tell the truth as you see it.

When you enact this policy of open communication, your employees will often follow suit and offer you the same in return.

6. Treat People Fairly and With Respect

Fairness and respect are the foundation of any good work relationship. When you hire someone, you need to trust that they will do good work. This means respecting their judgment and holding them to a reasonable standard.

Over the years, I have worked for some terrible managers who didn’t treat me fairly and with respect (as I’m sure many have). The kind of treatment is that fast track to bitterness and resentment.

Don’t be that boss.

Instead, trust people to meet the expectations of the task, give fair and direct feedback, allow chances for improved performance, and finally part ways if needed.

There’s a fine line between having high expectations and being a demanding prick. Remember what its like to be on the employee side and treat others how you would like to be treated.

7. Develop Strong Relationships

The difference between weak transactional relationships and strong authentic relationships is night and day. When you treat people like a cog in a wheel, they will treat you like a paycheque machine.

Work relationships don’t have to be cold a calculated – the personal element is a powerful aspect of work (and life). When you share in hardship and success, your workers will develop a closer bond with you and will go the extra mile.

Strong relationships take a long time to form. You have to show up consistently and develop trust through repeated shared experiences. While this is a whole other topic in itself, you can get started right away.

Ask about your employee’s lives. Show interest in their hopes and dreams. Genuinely care about their struggles and try to contribute to their lives through the work opportunities you provide. You can assume that their employment is playing some small part in their plans (otherwise they won’t be working for you).

Maybe they want money to feed their family. Maybe they want to be part of a team. Maybe it’s a learning opportunity to build on their careers.

Whatever it is, you will get the most out of your workers when you can identify their needs and help meet them

8. Develop a Strong Employer Brand

Moving a little more higher level, you have to start thinking about making an employer brand. An employer brand is what people think about working for your company when they think about you.

There are many things that go into a brand but the main one is the brand essence. The brand essence is the space that you occupy in people’s hearts and minds. Here’s one for the beer company Guinness as an example:

guiness brand essence

When people think about the values that we talked about in this article, you’ll have a strong brand that people will want to come work for. You can build this brand by being consistent and creating a good work environment. When you’re starting out, it doesn’t; matter as much, but eventually, your brand will ensure that a stream of qualified workers will be available to you at any time.

9. Pay Well

This one is self-explanatory – you have to pay people well for the work that they do. As an entrepreneur starting out, you’ll probably be strapped for cash. But this doesn’t mean you can’t be generous.

I always aim to pay a little more than the industry average. Employees will know whether they are getting ripped off or not, so make sure you show goodwill in the easiest way possible and share the money love.

Key Considerations For Successfully Getting People to Work For You

Getting someone to work for you is one thing, but getting them to stay working for you is another thing entirely. It’s kind of pointless to hire someone today if they are just going to quit tomorrow. This is why it’s so important to hire for the long term and always put people first in your business.

Aim to Hire Long-Term Employees

The advantages of hiring employees long-term are twofold:

  1. You’ll spend less time hiring and more time getting work done
  2. Your employees will get more proficient over time

I have spent tons of time and effort hiring and rehiring so I want to drive this point home – always setup long-term contracts or full-time engagements if possible. The less invested the employee is in the engagement, the more likely they will bounce.

Do not underestimate how much hiring will eat up your time. Hire the right people, treat them right, and watch your business benefits over the long haul.

Put People First in Your Business

Business at its core is an interconnected spiderweb of people. From your customers to your suppliers to your employees, you will have various relationships of different types.

How you treat people will determine how successful your business becomes, period.

In addition to the points laid out in this article, it’s really important to prioritize people and the relationships you build with them. This means upholding and sticking to it no matter what.

In the early days, you’ll have to make decisions about where to spend money when cash is tight. My recommendation is to spend it on taking care of your employees first and foremost.

Never miss payroll.

When you hire employees, you can assume that they rely on the paycheque that you have agreed to provide to them. When this money is late or doesn’t come at all, there is no surer way to destroy trust in your company.

Instead, stick to your word, take care of your own, and they will take care of you back.

Wrapping Up and My Experience With Getting People to Work for You

Getting people to work for you is a necessary part of business. It can become a complex and tedious process if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, if you follow the tips in this article, you’ll be on the fast track to streamlining efficient hiring and team building.

If you’re already hiring and looking to improve your process, great! but if you’re just starting out, don’t be intimidated. I struggled with setting up expectations when I first started but after hiring a few people, I found it wasn’t that hard. Now I actually look forward to hiring because I know it will make my life easier and I get to meet new people in the process!

Don’t try to do everything yourself, please take the time to hire properly and get people to work for you.

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