These days too many business owners are throwing their advertising dollar down the toilet using outdated recruitment methods and using boring old ads. And, then they wonder why they’re getting the wrong response! In this article, I have outlined the secrets to getting and keeping the perfect employee. This information is an invaluable and often neglected secret weapon when looking for the dream team.
- Do you have a clearly defined job description for the role? One of the biggest mistakes business owners can make when looking for new staff, whether it’s for the expansion of the business or because someone needs to be replaced, is that they don’t actually have a clear and concise outline of what they want the employee to do and exactly how they expect it to be done! When you think about it, without this simple document, it’s no wonder that both the employee and employer can be disappointed or become disillusioned: If there are no clear guidelines, it’s that much harder to do the job correctly and to expectations. Most business owners don’t have either the time, the expertise or perhaps even the realization, that they need to develop this critical document way before they start advertising. Without a clear job description, what often happens is new people are employed, given a quick tour of the premises, introduced to a few key people and then left to their own devices, simply because everyone is too busy to train them properly! How can they live up to the expectations of the boss when they don’t even know what those expectations are! Some business owners say, “If only I could find someone like me!” Well, ask yourself the question: “Would you ever work for you?” If the answer is a loud “No”, you may have an understanding of what some of the problems may be! So, working out what you expect of your new employee is half the battle, but don’t leave it until after they start! Do it before you advertise.
- Do you have lots of candidates to choose from? Putting the effort and money into advertising to just get 2 or three candidates is a common mistake. The problem with this is if you have only 2 or 3 candidates to choose from, how do you know if you’ve picked a great candidate? And are you truly going to be satisfied with picking the best of a bad bunch? Is that the way to build a successful business? No way! You obviously need to see as many candidates as possible so you can get a good feel for who’s out there and who can best fill the role. There are good candidates out there, and you need to use every resource available to get good people in front of you. Always use more than one advertising or ‘people-finding’ strategy when recruiting for new team members.
- Why you should hire slow and fire fast. Most people in business tend to do it the other way around: they hire fast and fire slow. This is because the decision to bring on more staff is usually made under pressure. You know the situation, you’re busting at the seams with work, your spouse says, “If you don’t start spending time with me, I’m out of here”. Or your best person has just had a better offer (which should always give you food for thought), or suddenly they want a change of direction and you are left with a great hole in your operations with no-one left to fill it! So now the race is on to find someone to share the load and take up the reins where they were left. In your haste, you may be tempted to just take anyone with a pulse that even remotely looks like they might fit the bill. What then happens after several months, or even years of kidding yourself that they are getting better is that you either live with this continual frustration or you decide that maybe it’s you and not just them. You finally build up the courage to ask them to leave and their response is something like, “yeah, I was wondering when you would say something”. So, it’s important to always do your homework up front. Make sure you know exactly who you are looking for before you begin recruiting. Don’t worry about losing candidates, rather, worry about how to get a good process going and how you’re going to get lots of prospective candidates into that process. Then if the candidate doesn’t work out, you can let them know early and start the process again.
- Is there a compelling reason to want to work for you? Often overlooked is the process of making the job attractive to the right candidate. This would also include creating an environment that good employees feel that they could develop and grow, and contribute to something worthwhile. Most good people are looking for a more than just a job. They want something meaningful and inspiring. When a friend of mine was looking for a life partner, he was becoming very frustrated until someone said to him, “first you need to define exactly what she would look like and all her character traits.” So he got busy defining his perfect mate. Several weeks passed and still no result. In frustration, he came to me and said, “well, I have the perfect partner defined in every way. Now what?” I said, “Imagine you’re walking down the street, and coming towards you the other way is your perfect partner. The question you need to be asking yourself is, will she be attracted to you?!” You will need to put in some effort into creating a great environment and opportunity for your ideal candidate, to make sure they will be excited about the prospect of working for you and with you.
- Do you use a systemized approach to choosing the best candidate? Don’t trust in your innate abilities to choose the right candidate, as this usually only works if you are an expert recruiter, and it can be very easy to get it wrong. Recruitment is almost like a courtship: everyone is putting on their best behavior and face, and once the honeymoon is over, we get to work with the ‘real’ personality. Instead, create a system of key activities and questions that will test your candidate’s knowledge and their abilities. Systemize this process so you can deliver it consistently and accurately. That way you can actually compare candidates in an “apples to apples” comparison.
- How do you communicate the values of your business? Do you know how much it costs the average business if they employ someone and that person leaves within 3 months? You’d be surprised and shocked I’m sure, to find the actual figure is around $30,000! Most people don’t believe this figure until they start to count the downtime for training, lost productivity and opportunity costs, and the time taken to interview and select that candidate. Not to mention the time, costs and heartache of having to go through the whole recruitment and interview process again so soon! It’s important to understand the reasons people leave soon after starting a job. One of the main reasons is because the job described, and the actual expectations and work environment, do not match. Or the job might be clear, but the cultural environment is not a good fit for them: they may be looking for an environment where there is an opportunity to move ahead or to get good bonuses with good productivity and output. Make sure you communicate your cultural environment and the long-term opportunity, up front. Let them know what it’s going to be like and what they can expect 12 months and two years from now.
- Do you have a systemized induction process? Be aware that if you don’t have a strong, systematic induction process then you are ultimately digging yourself a big hole: It is very difficult for people to know what you want them to do, in the way that you want them to do it, in the timeframes you want them to do it, if their only training is ‘on the job.’ Let’s face it, it’s hard for people to get it right if they are left to their own devices when they start. So, don’t leave the new employee hanging around waiting for something to happen, and then getting confused when they can’t read your mind! Create an induction process that will welcome new employees into the business and that will mesh them with your team and give them the best possible chance at succeeding within your company. You and your new employee will reap the benefits and will be very glad that you did.
- Do you have clearly defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? As the old business saying goes, “if you can measure it, you can improve it”, so make sure you have measuring ‘sticks’ in place to monitor each aspect of the new employee’s performance. Tracking relevant KPIs (key performance indicators) for your team is equally important for their own self-monitoring as it is for you to be able to tell if they’re doing a good job. You also need to know if your team is delivering you profitable and productive results! Just for a minute, imagine playing a game of ten-pin bowling with a big curtain blocking your view of the pins. That’s how most people do their jobs, bowling the ball, but not knowing if they’ve hit anything. Rather than just yelling at them when they stuff things up, you will get a far better result and feedback when you provide them with meaningful data about their performance and results. Remember, if you can measure it you can improve it!
How often do you review performance? Do you communicate with your team regularly! I don’t mean talking to them every day in the hallway… I mean do you have a structured review process where you can discuss details of their role and their performance objectively, on a regular basis? Did you know that 68 percent of your team will leave you because of perceived indifference?
That means, they feel you don’t care about them anymore: they feel like a number rather than a person. Put weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual reviews in place. This will enable you to continue to get the best out of your people, will make them feel connected to you and your company, and will also help you to spot any potential problems sooner rather than later, or worst still, too late!
Make sure you keep this communication open and honest, and with a positive outcome in mind.