Do you know what’s the second biggest problem I see among the small business owners I work with?
Give up? (Tut-tut! You give up too easily…)
It’s failing to “hire right”.
Of course, now you want to know what’s the biggest one. Can you guess it?
It’s using a bad approach to fire an employee you didn’t use a good method to hire in the first place.
You simply would not believe how often this happens and you would not believe how preventable it is either.
According to Bloomberg writer Karen Klein bad hires are costly, and they can sidetrack your company’s growth.
I know I wrote about hiring right before but the subject keeps coming up among my clients and always at the time of firing wrong. So in this post, I really want to give you some specific strategies you can use the next time you have to hire an employee.
You see, You must learn how to hire an employee, using a proven method. When you do, you increase your chances of not having to fire that employee at all. And even if you have to, the experience will be far better for both parties.
Now, I bet your big question is “Where do I begin when I want to hire right?”
Not bad...But a much better question is “When do I begin learning how to hire right?”
You're in luck, you can begin right now!
That's because I'm about to give you 8 strategies you can start working on right now. BEFORE you hire your next employee. How cool is that?
So if you're ready, here they are:
1 - Acknowledge that size does matter
I know you know that all businesses are NOT created equal.
But did you know that approaches, strategies and systems that work for big business or corporations will not always work for your small business?
This is even truer when you are hiring.
Big businesses will have a single department, sometimes bigger than your whole business, responsible for hiring the right people for their businesses.
Before you allow your little heart to bleed with envy, let me warn you, they often end up with serious misfits. The advantage is, they have the money to ease them out and start all over again.
They also have budget sizes that you don’t, a selection pool that is bigger than yours and they can offer attractive salaries and enticing perks that you can’t.
You, on the other hand, depend on getting the word out among family and friends. They are expected to find you a Super Woman or a Super Man to help you grow your business.
And don't forget, this person will end up working very closely with you because of the sheer "smallness" of your business.
So understand that size matters to you and it's important that you hire right the first time.
2 - Dust off your business model and link it to your HR needs
If you understand nothing else about your business, you need to understand your business model. To help you with this, I have written a comprehensive post that you can check out here.
For the time being, let's agree that your business model is simply how you plan to make money with your business idea.
So if your business idea is to deliver business training to high-end businesses, in deciding how to make money with that idea, you would ask yourself questions like:
- How will I find, attract and keep customers?
- How will I design and deliver that training?
- What customer service delivery model will I use?
- Will my clients come to me or will I go to them?
- What payments methods will I use?
The answers to these questions should make you ask, “who can I really hire to help me deliver on my idea?”
In that moment you’re linking your business model to your HR needs.
For example, since your clients are high-end, you will need employees who are comfortable in high-end surroundings, have high levels of self-confidence and strong interpersonal skills.
3 - To hire right, describe the job you want done
I have heard it and I know you have heard it.
If you want to bring clarity to a goal or a desire – write it down. So write down a description for the job you want done.
Now look here…the title of the job (e.g. Factory Supervisor) is not a description of the job!
Yes, you need a title but you also need a general description or summary of the job.
Example: The Factory Supervisor (FS) supervises and coordinates the activities of employees engaged in sewing, embroidering, pressing, etc of garments in the factory”
Then list the essential job functions, followed by any additional related functions that would be nice to have.
Next, list the essential requirements or qualification of the job. These are those non-negotiable requirements that will be the be basis of your hiring decisions.
Then identify a few additional requirements that it would be nice to have. These will also help when two candidate meet the essential requirements.
What you now have are the elements of a proper job description. Chances are, you might not be able to write this by yourself so don't be afraid to get professional help with it.
4 - Describe the person you want to hire - but be flexible!
As part of the job description, write a description of the type of person you would want to fill that job. This is called a person specification.
This is not a physical description of the person or nothing to do with the fact that you love to dance. You are not looking for a lover. (at least not now!)
What you are describing are some of the attributes which are important to you in a person you are going to be working with.
For example, I like people who are punctual, who can and are willing to take the initiative and who can work as part of a team, when necessary.
This aspect of the “how to hire right” process is very important to me because I tend to hire for personality and train for skill. It's a good approach to take for most of your available jobs.
It's very possible that you can attract a person who has some skills which you did not specify as needed. But as the interview progresses you realise you would love to have them in your business? What should you do?
You are small enough to be flexible...
Go back to the drawing board and come up with a new version of the job that can use these skills. Then make the person an offer they can't refuse.
Now you know why small is beautiful…
5 - Discover for yourself if you’re a good boss
Perhaps this one caught you on the back foot, to use a Caribbean cricketing term.
You see, hiring right is like a good marriage. For it to work, there must be honest and careful disclosure by all the parties involved.
If you hire a good employee to work for a bad boss, just like a marriage, it will be hot at first but eventually it could end in a bitter separation.
In assessing yourself, either get professional help or use a colleague whose judgments and opinions you trust.
6 - Use a good tool to separate the sheep from the goat
Depending on the state of the economy and or the way you announce your vacancy, you can attract scores of applications.
A big business may have the resources to review loads of CVs which can differ in style, content and presentation. In your business, you may be the only person available to review yours.
That being the case, an application form is your best tool to ensure that there is uniformity in information coming from each applicant. It gives you a method to quickly decide who stand a chance and who do not. In other words, to separate the sheep from the goat.
The application form has other good uses too.
If you have a business (usually in retail) where there are a number of walk-in job seekers, having them complete an application form is kinder than just turning them away.
Keeping these application forms create a nice data bank that you can search when you need to find an employee quickly. This lets you hire right, even under pressure.
7 - Shamelessly exploit your sources of potential employees
Whatever the nature of your business, the sources of your potential employees will be varied and many.
They will include friends, family, colleagues, existing employees and the wider job market in your particular industry.
The wider job market in your particular industry is a source of rich opportunities and at the same time, vexing threats.
You can really win the at the hiring game if you can exploit the opportunities and still make the threats work for you.
I know...because I did it.
I once had a small business in the retail sector and my main source of recruitment was from among young women between the ages of 18 – 25.
No problem. Or so I thought.
After a while, I discovered that about 25% of this sector was likely to have a boyfriend or husband who was in prison, even if only for a short time.
I weighed up the cost and benefits of finding a good employee from this pool and decided I will not let this deter me.
I shamelessly went ahead and hired from among them but scheduled days off as required, to coincide with prison visits.
Naturally, I became the employer to work for.
A good understanding of where your employees can come from gives you a distinct advantage in the process as you hire right.
Strategy # 8 - If you can’t "hire right"…Get help
Interviewing is undoubtedly an important part of the hiring process. It is the method by which you decide on the suitability of a candidate.
Getting the interviewing wrong can saddle you with the wrong candidate or worse, cause you to miss out on a good one.
Before you start interviewing, you need to be very sure what you are looking for and how you will determine that a candidate has it. This is why having a job description and a person specification is so important.
Then you need to develop a set of questions you will ask each candidate so that you can have some objective criteria at least as a starting point.
Asking the right questions is important but so is asking them right.
For example, inexperienced interviewers might ask a candidate “which religion are you?” That's a "no-no" for a number of reasons. Most of the the time, you really want to find out “are you available to work all the business’ opening hours?”
That’s why it’s so important to learn how to interview as part of your goal to hire right – even before you start to hire.
It’s better to outsource interviewing to a professional, especially if the job is important, than to botch the process yourself.
Just remember that when you outsource, reserve the right to make the final hiring decision. After all, the person will be working with you.
So now, you will hire right!
Be honest with me now...
When you think of business success, hiring is way down your bucket list. But when things go wrong, the first thing you want to do is fire faster than a shot out of a gun!
The problem with firing like that is that it gets you in as much trouble as when a shot from a gun finds the wrong target.
But from now on, you will hire right.
Listen to me...you're smart. You put a lot of time, energy and effort into building your business. You will not let anything undermine this. Especially failing to hire the right people.
And best of all, I just gave you 8 simple strategies so that you can start working on it right away.
Take these 8 strategies and print them out. Study them, especially #5. Add them to your other business solutions. Make it your goal to be able to hire the employees you want for your business.
Remember: The wonderful thing about these strategies is that you can put them in place BEFORE you hire your next employee!
Now take a deep breath and tell yourself:
It’s time to hire right...so let me get right to it!
To your hiring success...