The first step in keeping good employees is hiring well. Begin with the end in mind. What do you want? Specifically, what does an exemplary employee look like? What does he do? How does he act? What specific outcomes do you expect from him?
When we're not clear on what we want in an employee, we're not hiring well. Through bad experiences, we become clear on what we don't want. And, after an endless parade of "don't wants," we conclude that "there just aren't any good people out there anymore." Guess what? Since we only "see" what we don't want, that's what we get. What we haven't taken responsibility for is envisioning the company's future. As a business owner or manager, we sidestep the envisinning process, and then blame what we get.
Just as your business was created from your vision of providing valuable painting and wallpapering services to customers, so should the envisioning process continue by attracting competent, dependable employees. Being very clear on what you want and being confident that you can thoughtfully select the appropriate employee will provide you with a necessary foundation. Expect the vision to evolve and change over time depending on the market and your business goals, among other factors. Let's talk specifics.
Skills can be taught, experience can be gained, but if a job candidate doesn't have self-management skills and an attitude that fits with your service-oriented philosophy, what good is he to you? Beginning with the end in mind, how might you want your employee to approach the job tasks? How might you want the customer to feel and think when interacting with your employee? What about the chemistry between the new employee and your existing employees?
Is it more important for the potential employee to have experience and competence using a steamer or to show up to work on time? The answer is both. But if you have a potential employee who knows how to prep a mildewed wall but doesn't exhibit respect and courtesy to your customers, which is repairable? Both the "what" they do and the "how" they do it are important on the job. Screen the entire person, not just for the skills and experience. Someone who demoralizes the staff and gets customers upset is probably not teachable. The employee who's short on skill and experience but works collaboratively with all can be taught to steam, prep, or spray.
The second most important thing you can do to keep good employees is to recognize each one's contribution. Giving feedback, mostly praise, is the single most effective way for managers to impact performance. Yet, telling an employee they're "doing a great job" is not enough. Effective praise-feedback that will not elicit a doubt about the giver's sincerity or motive-is specific and appropriate for the situation.