So, last week, I talked about multiplying your efforts, but how do you find the right people? Building your organization can be a scary endeavor. Finding the right people for your organization can be the hardest part in the growth process. However, once you have established your process, and know what you need to teach someone, it is that much easier to know who to go look for.
As in most things, you need to find a competitive advantage when hiring someone…and it doesn’t always have to be about paying more. Can you offer a flexible schedule? Do you have a fun and interesting work environment? Does your business enable people to do things they could not do anywhere else? You need to exploit the benefits of working for you.
In my painting business several years ago, I realized that I had several employees that were artists. On the weekends they worked on their own painting and sketches. I thought this skill was helpful, and so because of this, we now only hire artists. It has been a competitive advantage for us because there are a plethora of starving artists out there looking for a job that they would enjoy. The benefit for us is that they have the one skill that is the hardest for us to teach: good hand/eye coordination. As an added benefit, it has helped us in our marketing efforts as well. We now tell our customers that we hire starving artist, and teach them the art of painting houses.
So find a niche or your employees, just like finding a niche of potential customers. We have taken a marketing approach to hiring. We place fun and creative ads that truly stand out, and in exchange, we have more than enough job applicants to fill open positions.
Once you have interested people in the job, you still need to weed though the muck! Yes, I am referring to the applicant pool. It can be filled with a whole lot of crap. I hear business owners complain all the time that there are no good employees out there…WRONG! There are plenty of great employees out there. It is your job to find the good ones. And for that, you need a system, just like you need a system for everything else.
We all know when people are interviewed they will say just about anything to get the job. They will say: “Yes I’m always on time.” “ I’m a hard worker.” “I’m a fast learner.”, etc, etc. All a bunch of lies. And I even tell my applicants this. People can tell you whatever they want. The only thing that truly matters is what they do. You, the business owner need a system that will show you who is worth investing into, and who is not. Because no matter who you hire, you need to invest into that person.
In the hiring process, I suggest you create little tests along the way. It can start with the first phone call. Here is what I do after getting a response to my ad in Craigslist. I reply via email. In my email, I let them know that I received their response, and that I am looking forward to talking with them. Then I ask them to call me on my cell at a specific time the next day. I am not asking for a big commitment of time, but if they truly want a job, they will call you. I don’t ask for the impossible. Typically I will ask them to call at 9 or 10 am the next morning to talk further about the position.
The folks that call on time have just passed the first test. If they are interested, but know they are going to be unavailable, they usually email me back right away and ask for a different time. I am okay with this as long as it is well before the time I set up. I do get lots of calls that come in hours or days after the time I set up, but I do not move these forward.
Next I do a short phone interview to see if they have some good communication skills, ask follow up questions about the email they originally sent me, and to talk about the position. If all goes well, I set up a face to face interview.
At the face-to-face interview, I ask some of the same questions to see if things have changed, and I get a read on their personality skills. Are they personable? Can they hold a conversation in person. Do they show up early and are dressed appropriately for the job. Way over or way under will kick them out at this point, not to mention if they are late.
Then, if the interview goes well, I ask them to send me personal and profession references within one hour of our meeting. I use one hour, because this will not really give them enough time to ask for permission from all three. I know they will most likely give me good references (though I have been surprised before), but having good follow through at this point is just a critical.
Then, after this final step has been completed, and the references check out, I turn them over to our production manager for a final interview. Whoever would be working with the individual directly should have a final say now that you have done your due diligence.
If they make it through all of that, what then? You hire them! But, it is important to not give them too much responsibility too soon. Find a menial position in your company for your new hire, putting them on as a temporary employee for two to three weeks. We call it our two week interview, and let them know that they do not have a permanent position with our company until they have passed this stage. This will allow you to see if they are a hard worker, they show up on time, and if they are teachable. The position you give them should be a non-important job so if they don’t show up one day, your business is not affected.
Go slow. Hire slow. But always fire fast. Don’t get stuck into thinking they will get better, faster, or more reliable. We know within two days of someone starting with us weather they are worth investing into or not. It is very rare that someone can put a face on and then turn out to be a disappointment.
Every business seems to have their own systems, and we talk to business owners each week that have a different perspective. Check out our latest podcast on Small Business Naked to learn how successful business owners are doing this their own way.