The Importance of Giving Back to the Community

The holiday season is very nearly upon us, and for most of us that also means it’s gift-giving season in some capacity. While family, friends, and coworkers are usually at the tops of all our lists, it’s also important to give back in a wider sense, and as business owners there’s a particular responsibility to keep this in mind.

Those who are familiar with the 32-year-plus history of Stafford Printing know of our commitment to the community. Whether through monetary contributions or donating our services, we have a longstanding tradition of supporting our local community in any way we can.

The list of who we support is long, but here are a couple of examples.

  • We received acknowledgement today from Legal Aid Works (@legalaidworks on FB) for being a long-time sponsor of their Jazz4Justice event. We feel it’s important for low-income area residents to have equal access to legal services, and the organization’s dedicated and experienced staff work hard to help clients fight for their rights in many different types of cases, such as housing, family law, consumer rights, unemployment benefits, and immigration.
  • Another organization we proudly support is Loisann’s Hope House, a shelter whose mission is to take families from homelessness to permanent housing. I serve on the Board of Directors and am part of a team that coordinates the annual Concert of Hope, a fundraiser that brings world-renowned performers to the stage to benefit the shelter.

There are many other groups and agencies we work with; these are just two recent examples. The Stafford region is exceptional when it comes to support for our civic organizations, and as a small business owner it’s incumbent that we donate our time and talents to help our community.

If you haven’t already, take some time this week to plan out exactly how you’d like your business to give back this holiday season, as well as the rest of the year.  You can donate money, offer free services, or even arrange for you and your employees to volunteer your time at a local organization.  Whatever way you choose to contribute, you’ll be not only helping the community, but also enriching the culture at your own place of business.

How Can You Assemble Your Dream Team?

One of the issues businesspeople face every day is human resources – hiring and firing. How do you find the right people, retain them, and keep them inspired? Naturally the ideal would be to have a team of employees who are engaged, motivated, and working together toward a common goal. The reality, of course, can be a little more complicated.

There are two resources that help shape my thinking on this topic. The first is a book that was given to me by Linda Bishop of Thought Transformation, entitled How to Think like Leonard da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, by Michael J. Gelb.

Gelb uses da Vinci’s works and methods as a foundation to introduce seven principles that are the building blocks of creative genius. Whenever I’m interviewing a candidate and any of the seven traits from Gelb’s book surfaces, I sit up and take notice, but the one that captures my attention most readily is curiosity.

Curious minds typically make great employees. They always want to learn, they want to understand the process, they are motivated to improve processes, and usually they are optimistic, glass-half-full types. They tend to be detail-oriented and eager to get things right.

If you’re interviewing a candidate and they already seem enthusiastic not only about being employed, but also about your company and how they can be useful to the team, that’s a great sign. In turn, it’s immensely helpful if you can tap into your own sense of curiosity to find out what your employees need to succeed and thrive.

The second resource is from the Harvard Business Review. It’s an interview with Claudio Fernández-Aráoz about his book It’s Not the How or the What but the Who. The main takeaway is that hiring based on experience is not necessarily as important as hiring on potential.

To use Stafford as an example, given today’s tight job market and considering our relatively niche needs, we can’t always expect to find experienced press and bindery operators. In a sense that doesn’t matter, though, because those are skills that can be taught. What we’re more interested in is finding people with the right mindset – those who have an innate desire to learn, those who follow their curiosity as described above, and those who enjoy taking on a challenge and making it their own.

If someone shows that they have the potential to excel and flourish, the rest is simply down to training them well and guiding them in the right direction.

Keep these ideas in mind when you’re seeking out and vetting candidates, and remain open to the possibility that the candidate who looks most impressive on paper may not be the automatic right choice. You never know who might surprise you with their ability to think outside the box and bring something new and innovative to the table – those are the employees that you’ll truly cherish in the long run.