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One of the most important and critical tasks a business owner has is hiring a quality staff.
The importance cannot be understated or taken lightly because it is difficult, if not impossible, to grow a business without a team of employees who know and perform their jobs with enthusiasm, professionalism and excellence, no matter whether their job is truck driver or general manager.
There is another, rarely considered benefit to hiring the best employees, and that is to develop a low rate of turnover.
In most cases a great staff is a happy staff, and people who are happy in their jobs tend to stay longer. If your rate of turnover is low, you will be spending far less time, energy and money interviewing, hiring and training replacement employees.
Your time and energy can then concentrate on growth issues including sales, marketing and the hiring/training process of additional employees.
Before I go further, let me state this disclaimer. There are two important parts to the hiring process: The selection process and adherence to employment law. I am discussing the selection process only. I do make claim to be in a position to offer advice in the field of employment law. It is important to also realize that each state has different laws that apply to employees and it is important to comply with them.
As the growing business expands, new employees are added to fill new positions created by growth or replacing those who have moved up or out.
Many owners of small businesses have difficulty with the process of hiring and training new employees to produce at high levels, and to motivate them to excel, all which contributes to the growth of the company.
Much of this difficulty can be blamed on one word in the previous sentence, “process.” The fact is that most businesses do not have a process for the series of events that creates a productive, motivated and enthusiastic workforce.
The process is a major part of improving your business. If successful, the process delivers better performance from existing employees, easier and faster integration of new employees and higher levels of success… all because of the implementation of higher performance and execution standards.
If we can agree that the goal is to create that productive, motivated and enthusiastic workforce then we can break down the process into six important activities. We will discuss the first two parts of this process, which can be called the “job description” and the “interview.” The remaining four will be discussed in future articles.
Once the process is in place, when there is a job opening for an existing position, you should be able to just go over to the filing cabinet or into the computer and retrieve the description for that specific job.
Part 1: The job description
You must write a job description for each position in your company. This is very important for hiring an employee for a new position. For positions that you might need to fill, as employees leave or are asked to leave, write those job descriptions before seeking a new employee.
Your job descriptions are “living documents” because you will constantly change them as your business changes, which can be from technology, the marketplace, size and scope of your company, etc.
Why write out job descriptions and keep them on file? It helps you to accurately describe the duties, responsibilities and skills required of that position. All of this enables you to describe the “ideal” candidate.
How do you describe the position? Write it out and create a job description form. The job description starts with the definition of the key results you must have from that position. This includes the policies that the new hire will need to adhere to.
You probably realize that people grow and develop over time, so define the scope of that job in six, 12, 18 and 24 month periods. Define the results expected at each time slot and realize the results must be measurable and tracked on a sustainable basis.
Also, define the worst-case scenarios. These are performances or attitudes you cannot tolerate in that position.
When writing the job description, be certain it is future-focused (how someone will grow and mature in the job); results oriented (how performance will be measured and reviewed); and contains clear standards for high performance.
A word of caution: The profile of the ideal person in your job description may include some particular qualifications that are required in order to perform the job at the level you describe, but be aware of anti-discrimination laws.
If you include particular requirements in the job profile, you should have an attorney who concentrates in employment law review it so you do not invite a lawsuit for some type of discrimination issue.
Part 2: The interview process
Based on the profile of the ideal candidate and the attributes/skills required for success in the job, develop approximately 10 interview questions. Ask the same questions of everyone you interview.
Many employers fail in the interview process by doing 80 percent of the talking, seemingly attempting to sell the company to the candidate. If you do this, you are doing it backwards. You want the applicant to do most of the talking.
If the questions are open-ended and properly asked, the interviewer(s) will discover:
- How candidates will respond to problems and challenges
- How they will respond to the pace of the environment
- How they will be able to influence others to their point of view
- How they will respond to rules set by others
- How they will respond to customers
- How they will present the company to others.
What will help you in the process is compiling “standards” that can be applied to most hiring situations.
Because companies with one or two employees have different needs than companies with 50 or 100 employees, write your standards based upon your company’s needs. You can start from scratch, or modify the following so they are appropriate to your company.
- Each qualified candidate will be interviewed at least twice
- At least two different people will interview the candidates
- One of the interviewers will always be the candidate’s potential manager
- The potential manager will have hiring authority
- The key results, role expectations and interview question worksheets will have been completed for each position under consideration
- No candidates will be interviewed until a job description and profile is completed
- Interview questions will be prepared in advance and used to interview all candidates
- All references will be checked using a standardized format
- Candidates who express the desire to change the terms of employment after receiving a job offer will not be hired.
One thing you do not want to do is hire a “false image.” Many people are good actors, and are able to present themselves as an ideal candidate on good physical appearance, being articulate, etc. To eliminate the possibility of preference on any physical standards, The Chicago Symphony auditions musicians in a process where the candidates play behind a curtain so the hiring committee never sees them.
Larry Galler specializes in coaching owners of small businesses to grow their business through effective marketing, customer retention programs and systemizing their business practices. Explore how he can help you during a free coaching session by calling (219)464-9463 or e-mail Larry@LarryGaller.com. Visit his website at www.OneYearToGreatness.com.