WASHINGTON — In a tight labor market, small business owners need to know that if they can't compete on the salary side, don't try. The better plan, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at the staffing firm Robert Half International, is to "focus on culture, focus on learning, focus on the opportunity to take on multiple roles more quickly, and to be really in a learning environment."
More of his advice about leadership and culture:
Q: What advice would you give your younger self?
A: Earlier on in my career, it was build, build, build, run fast, run hard.
I would focus on being more empathetic to everyone. ... A lot of people think -- I did -- communicating is talking. Part of communication is very active listening. I was given two ears and one mouth: use them in proportion.
Q: How much do you pay attention to your competition?
A: We're not obsessed with it. We're always obsessed with: Are we the best? What do we need to do to stay at the top?
The old mentality was, 'stick to your knitting, and you'll be successful.' You can stick to your knitting, but you also have to look around a bit more, because things are changing so quickly that you might have to branch in one direction or another.
Q: What advice do you have for small business owners?
A: When you're recruiting individuals to come to work for you, accentuate the fact that it's a flat organizational chart, you're going to work extremely close with owners and executives. There are great opportunities in small organizations to learn many things. Things that you may not learn until later in your career in a larger organization.
Q: How do you manage work-life balance?
A: Very carefully.
I put (it) on my calendar when I know I am going to be meeting with my spouse. I take care of my health. Take time out with my family. And I volunteer a lot.