The major factor that consistently separates top businesses from businesses that never quite take off is the people you hire — and how you hire them. I’m going to reveal three tools that will help you hire the right people for your unique business needs.
Let’s start with the hiring process. Hiring the right people for your business is critical to your success. Yet, we rarely think about developing a hiring strategy and fail to do the research and planning to be successful. Hiring the wrong people can be one of the most expensive things your business does; hiring the right people saves you time, money, and increases your profits.
If you plan to buy an expensive piece of equipment or purchase a new software solution, you would research the features, look at competitors’ products, prepare a list of questions about how it would work for your business needs, plan for implementation, assign resources, and block out time to have a successful result.
It’s time to apply that thinking to your hiring process. The competition for talented people is fierce and many small businesses feel they can’t compete with larger organizations. They resign themselves to settling for average or subpar employees and end up with a staff comprised of lazy Larry, diva Debbie, and gossip Gale. It doesn’t have to be that way. When you plan, you succeed.
Tool #1: Define Your Ideal Employee
Busy entrepreneurs and small business owners have a great opportunity to hire some of the best people in the market, and it’s easier than you might think. Again, applying strategic thinking and planning to the hiring process makes a difference. It starts with you thinking about what your ideal employee would look like. What attitudes, skills, and behaviors do they possess? Determine the personality traits that fit your business culture. What kind of education and experience is required? Then, create a pie chart with the top three to five attitudes, skills and behaviors critical to success. Your chart is a snapshot of your critical success factors.
Also, understand what you don’t want. Think about the attitudes, skills, and behaviors of unsuccessful employees. If you don’t know what differentiates your ideal employee from the average or subpar employee, how will you know when you find the right one?
Do some research on current labor market conditions, including experience, skills and salary ranges for the people you need. You may have to get creative about how you get the right people if they are not available or maybe the salary range is too high. For example, a client wanted more experience than their budget could handle. Instead of settling for a subpar employee who fit their budget, they opted instead for a more junior employee who was able to work closely with a manager and quickly learn the skills needed. This solved the budget constraint while giving a career growth opportunity to a junior employee who wanted to gain experience.
Tool #2: Understand Why Your Ideal Employee Wants to Work for You
The most useful question that you can ask yourself is, “If I were a potential employee, why would I want to work for you doing this job?” This thinking is much more employee focused, starting with what they want and how you can position what you have so they want it.
Here’s an example: let’s say you wanted a customer service representative who has lots of patience in a very stressful environment. Instead of thinking, “How can I find people who have patience in stressful environments?” think, “If I were a potential candidate, why would I want to work in a stressful environment that requires tons of patience?” That really changes your thinking. It prompts you to ask, “What would motivate a customer service representative to really want to work for me?” That’s going to have much more impact than any other strategy you can use.
The answer to these questions is their wants and their pain. These are what would pull them away from their current job or cause them to want to work for you. Examples include:
- their efforts are not recognized,
- they are not empowered to help customers,
- they are micromanaged,
- they waste time in endless meetings, or
- they have co-workers who don’t share their values and beliefs.
These are all opportunities for you to show how working for you will solve their pain and address their needs.
Tool #3: Ask Insightful Interview™ Questions
Interviews are the single most important piece of the hiring process, and yet, it’s the one piece that isn’t done well. In my career, I made the common mistake of failing to ask candidates questions that revealed their true attitudes, behaviors and skills. Instead, I relied on traditional questions like “Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Like most business people, I was focused on traditional interviewing questions that have been used forever. The problem is those questions just don’t work. Savvy candidates have researched all the “correct” answers, and they have learned to tell us what we want to hear. We think we’ve gotten smarter by asking behavioral-based questions like “Tell me about a time when you solved a problem.” Sounds better, right? Wrong. We’ve just told our candidate we want to hear about success. But, what about all the times they didn’t try to solve the problem? What about the times they failed? We’ll never know about any of those times.
The answer is to ask Insightful Interview™ questions that reveal a true picture of what a candidate is really like. Rather than asking “What are your weaknesses?” ask “Could you tell me about a time when you lacked the knowledge or skills to complete a task?” This question is more difficult to answer. We’ve all been in situations where our knowledge and skills were lacking. A candidate’s answer to this question reveals more substantial information than the canned response to the weaknesses question. You can download the full analysis of this question from my website.
What you can do now:
What needs to change in your hiring process? I’ll be walking through how to create your hiring strategy in an upcoming webinar, “Hiring 911.” You can grab your spot by clicking here.