The Social Age Evolutionary Workplace: Recruiting, Engaging and Retaining Self-Storage Staff

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By Kim Seeling Smith

Technology and globalization have dramatically changed the way we work over the last 20 to 30 years. However, very little has changed in how we hire and manage self-storage staff, which has led to low employee engagement and productivity as well as high turnover. Instead of doing the routine, tactical and predicable work of yesteryear, this “Social Age” requires us to be more strategic, creative and innovative, more solution-oriented.

For the most part, self-storage owners are still hiring for skills and experience and using the same levers they’ve used for decades to motivate and manage staff. You must evolve your business practices to remain competitive in our digitally connected, globally oriented economy.

With any evolutionary process, a guide or roadmap proves invaluable. When your self-storage company decides to take the leap and join the Social Age, here are five ways to maximize employment efficiency and effectiveness, retain staff, and ensure employees are fully engaged on a daily basis.

Correct Hiring

We must start this evolution with hiring the right people. Without them, efforts to engage and retain staff become moot. The Industrial Age paradigm emphasized hiring for skills and experience, but skills can be taught. In today’s rapidly changing world, experience is far less important than agility and the ability to learn and adapt. To not only survive but thrive in the Social Age, companies need to hire for culture fit and competencies—those innate abilities that can’t be taught but will make employees successful in the job.

Proper interviewing technique is essential to guaranteeing you get the right hire. Unlike the stock market, when it comes to potential job candidates, past performance is indicative of future results. The majority of interview questions have to be answered with past examples of how the candidate actually dealt with real-world scenarios. Do not fall into the old trap of believing what a candidate would do is what he did do or, more important, will do.

Classify and Manage Appropriately

Even when you do everything right during the hiring process, you may still be surprised once the employee comes on board. Team dynamics or changing personal circumstances can affect individual behavior and performance. You must continually keep your finger on the pulse of your staff—a daunting task to many self-storage owners who either try to devote equal time and energy across the board or who spend time with the wrong people.

Employees typically come in three types: critical people, squeaky wheels and the fat middle. Most owners end up spending most of their time trying to grease their squeaky wheels, which perpetuates poor performance or behavior. Counterintuitively, by devoting the majority of your attention to your critical people, you’ll bolster the productivity of the whole team. Squeaky wheels? Train, motivate or move them on. Quickly.

Compensate Fairly

Many companies diligently strive to create attractive incentive programs in an effort to engage and retain staff. Unfortunately, these efforts actually may be counterproductive to accomplishing these goals.

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