"What is the matter with you girl?"
I was really mad at myself!
Without realising it, I seemed to have set out on a mission to prove that there IS such a thing as a free lunch.
I mean, why else would I constantly jump to take up my friends on their sly lunch invitations?
But alas…there’s really NO such thing as a free lunch!
So last week, when three of them invited me to lunch, I was NOT surprised that somewhere between the cream of split pea soup and the blackened Mahi Mahi, the conversation rushed to Hiring Right in small businesses.
After I deliberately avoided the meandering conversation, they asked me outright:
Lorna, as small business people, how can we find and keep the best employees? in other words...how can we hire right?
Admittedly, the question did get me thinking…
According to the US Small Business Administration, there are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States employing 47.8 percent of US workers.
But does hiring more equal hiring right?
Because according to Guidant Financial small business owners reported a significant 15 percent increase in challenges with recruiting and retaining employees.
So, is there anything that small business can do to hire good people and keep them in the business? Yes, there is.
Here is an overview of the areas that I focus my clients on when they want to hire right and keep the best employees.
Get the requirements for hiring right
It starts with the job description.
I encourage my clients to write job descriptions for every job in the business – including the future jobs.
To me, job descriptions are incredibly important, especially so as a recruiting tool. It clarifies your expectations of the employee and gives the candidate a clear description of the job they are hoping to get.
Next you decide on the type of person you're looking for.
You identify the strengths, talents and experience of the candidate and align with that job description. In other words, as part of the process of hiring right, you are determining the extent to which a candidate is the person you are looking for.
Then you must know how to do what I call “crack the resume code.”
For example, get past the expensive stationery and the professional layout. What you look for is the level of detail a candidate can provide when they describe what they did in a particular position.
You’re also looking for weasel wording like “participated in”, “in association with” or “familiar with” which can clue you in to the fact that the candidate might not have the experience they claim to have.
And of course you have to check the references. Learn to ask the referee the questions that will support or expose their claims in their references.
Get the orientation right if you're hiring right
Oh! How many stories I have heard of poor or no orientation!
Yes, I know that you seldom have the time, money or other resources.
But how you treat new employees right at the beginning is critical. It helps to determine how fast they settle into the job and which opinion they hold of the business as a good place to work.
Here's an example of a 3-phase orientation process you can use:
Phase 1 – the pre-arrival phase
This happens before the candidate arrives on the job.
It involves providing the candidate with some advanced information such as operations manuals, company reports and could even include a T-shirt or key rings, etc.
Pre-arrival orientation is a unique and highly valuable approach to begin communicating with new hires.
It just cannot be beaten in creating a professional positive first impression for the new hire. In the highly competitive small business market, it also reinforces for the candidate that they have made the right decision in joining your business.
Phase 2 - Job-Site Orientation
This occurs during the first and second day on the job.
It focuses on helping the new employee on understanding the physical workplace. If you do it right, you begin by introducing the new hire to ALL employees.
Then you point out key areas of the workplace (including the bathroom!) introductions, location of equipment, etc.
It’s also during this time, if you have done a pre-arrival orientation, you can discuss any unclear policies, etc. This also gives you a chance to answer any lingering questions the employee may have.
Phase 3: Job-Specific Orientation
You cannot overlook this.
Job- specific orientation takes place during the first few weeks. It addresses details such as specific duties, the job description, budgets, tools, software, and health and safety.
Alternatively, depending on the nature of the business, it can be divided and delivered in manageable information slices and tied closely to the probation period.
Get the culture of your business right!
When I was in the job market as a candidate, after I had been interviewed, I would politely ask the potential employers if I could interview them.
Why would I do this?
I wanted to find out, since they were so keen on "hiring right" if they had created a culture that would be the right fit for me.
Would they capitalise on my strengths and skills? Would they allow me the room to grow and not stifle my ideas and creativity?
As you can imagine, this did not go down well with many potential employers. I never understood why. After all, isn't this part of the process of hiring right?
But the right culture is important for small businesses retaining talented people and standing out in a crowded business space.
Don't take my word for it.
James Garvin, writing for Gaebler Ventures identifies four factors you can use to decide on how best to implement a rewarding and rich culture, within your business.
His four factors are:
1. Autonomy - Allow individuals to make decisions when they are needed. Empower your employees.
2. Rewards - Create a proper metric and reward system where individuals and departments are rewarded for their specific and unique contributions.
3. Benefits - Provide benefits like health insurance, flex hours, and more. These are often more important to employees than base pay.
4. Contribution - Enable employees to make individual contributions. Remove the classic informational ladder that exists in many corporations today. You are running a small business not a small bureaucracy. Make your employees feel that they are contributing to a great cause.
I entirely support these and truly believe that every small business owner can implement them.
Your next step to hiring right
So there you have it from me.
I've just shared the three areas where by hiring right, you can find and keep the best employees in your small business.
And it's not as hard to do as you think.
You just have to get past the belief that you must appear “big” by imposing a complex, corporate structure on what should be a flexible and responsive business.
You can easily become the "hiring standard" for small businesses.
I'm not joking...
Just implement the advice I have given above and remember this one thing:
In hiring, remember that to grow your business, you have to hire talent and allow them to perform.
If you hire talent and still insist on micro-managing, you and the employees will be frustrated. The employees will leave and you will be forever hiring.
Give it a try, won't you?
And if you need help with HR in your small business please, do contact me.
As for me...in the meantime, I have resigned myself to accepting the next “FREE” lunch.
To your "hiring right" success...