I recently met with a dozen business owners, and we spent about two hours talking about nothing but hiring.
Everyone in the room agreed that job No. 1 for a company is to get customers. Job number two is to hire the right people who will treat customers well. Everyone also agreed that depending on the day of the week and current circumstances, the priorities between these two tasks could easily go back and forth.
What was most interesting in the conversation was the fact that the amount of time, effort and expertise applied to sales and marketing is considerable. Every owner knew who their customers were, had specific processes in place to identify and sell to them, and had a structure for evaluating employee performance and success.
When it came to hiring, the processes and practices employed by the owners were varied, both in terms of detail and process. Some owners hired in anticipation; some were reactionary in their hiring process. Some owners had well-structured screening steps and criteria for candidates; others had none. Some owners used multiple interviews and team oriented approaches; others relied on their instincts.
What came out of the meeting was agreement on three critical things every company should adopt in order to increase the probability of success in hiring.
One, begin with a hiring process. Have a detailed step-by-step methodology each and every time you look to hire someone. This includes when to hire, and that should be before they are needed, or before “crunch” time. Hiring under time constraints produces poor hires.
It also includes how to find the right people. The first and best source of qualified candidates is your employees. Emphasize the responsibility involved with making a referral, because the referring employee will be associated with that new hire. They will want that association to be nothing but positive.
Two, take the time to clearly identify and understand the culture and requirements of the company and the department where the person will work. Cultural items include things such as values, work ethic, curiosity and generosity. Requirements could include things like skill level, ability to learn, ability to adapt, and level of self-initiative.
There are numerous assessment tools in the marketplace that will measure these things, and the cost per assessment is usually in the low hundreds of dollars.
Assessment tools aside, rely on instincts. The tools are merely that — tools. The interview process will help you really understand a person and what motivates them. For qualified candidates, conduct multiple interviews with multiple people.
Three, measure success and help new hires be successful. Identify at least one, but preferably more than one, key metric by which you measure job effectiveness. The measurement should not be implemented just for a new hire. It should be a valid company metric by which current employees are measured.
Train a new hire on the position, the company, and any skills they need to be successful in their job. Help them clearly understand the metrics used to evaluate them. Then evaluate them and openly discuss performance with them, frequently.
New hires are always anxious about how they are doing. Is it fair to wait two weeks or a month before an employee review? Do the reviews at a minimum weekly. It does not have to be a long and formal procedure – just a summary of performance, the things they are doing well, and areas where they could improve.
When you make a new hire, you want to do everything possible to help that person be successful. Consider a “buddy system” where there is a mentor for each new hire. A department’s success (and the company’s success) is dependent on the results the team delivers. Get the team involved with the new hire, even as early as the interview process.
If hiring is at or near the top of the priority list for a business, take the time and effort to ensure your processes for hiring deliver a high probability of success.
Author: Ken Cook