It’s spring break season and families everywhere are piling into the family car for road trips to destinations that are supposed to be fun and relaxing. Except that often is far from the reality. I remember a family road trip to the Catskills in New York with my parents and two brothers and sister. We ranged in age from about four to ten.
We visited the zoo and the memory that stands out is the obligatory photo of the kids having fun. My parents had a great sense of humor and lined us up in front of the giraffes under a sign that said, “We Bite!” Imagine four lovely children with smiles on their faces, looking as innocent as can be with this sign above their heads.
The truth was that while we did not literally bite, we absolutely had the capacity to turn from innocent to wicked in seconds. We were generally a happy and well-behaved group until we added in some unfamiliar or stressful situations. Managing your employees is often like this.
Road trips are a lot like recruiting and hiring the right people. At first glance, everything looks wonderful. Once you start looking under the surface, you find that things might be less than perfect. Those four well-behaved children could turn on a dime and become screaming demons in a fight to the death over who sat in the middle in the backseat of the car. Back then, there was an annoying hump from the drivetrain that seriously reduced leg room. No one wanted to sit there on a road trip.
That’s why it’s important to explore below the surface when you are hiring employees. We have trigger points that can arise when we are placed in certain circumstances. For example, if you generally have an even workload except for one month or season of the year when things get crazy or chaotic, you’ll want to know before you hire how that employee will handle that stress.
You’ll want to understand the personalities and attitudes of your employees so that you can be aware of and manage around any of their stress triggers. Let’s be honest: most of us have them and they can be used to our advantage when we are aware and can take action to prevent them.
Here is a great example of how this works in real life. A small business needed a new director for their marketing function. Using Insightful Interview™ questions, they determined the candidate had the right skills and education, and was a good fit for the organization’s culture. Their next step was to check her references and verify the information from the interview.
They learned from the references that the candidate would need help in certain areas, particularly when things got stressful. Without awareness of the candidate’s stress triggers, the small business would have become frustrated and possibly considered disciplinary action or terminating her employment. However, when stressful times arose, her manager was able to address the triggers and keep the employee from falling into negative behaviors. This kept the entire team productive and working well together.
This is a great example of knowing when you can adapt to a candidate’s weaknesses. There are also times when adapting is impossible. Because the manager knew in advance what to watch for, he could work with the employee and turn what could have become a bad situation into a successful relationship.
There are several key takeaways from this story.
Know Your Performance Standards
Be very clear about what you need from your new employee and the results they must achieve. When you’re hiring, know what performance is critical and focus on the skills, attitudes, and behaviors required to achieve the results you need.
Know When You Can Adapt
You rarely find the perfect employee. Each candidate has strengths and weaknesses and knowing whether you can accept them is critical. In the case above, stress occurred at specific times—the annual meeting and a large conference. Because of this, the manager could easily adapt to make sure the employee was not overwhelmed and help manage the stress with little disruption to the team.
Know the Costs of Adapting
There are costs involved with each decision you make as a small business owner. There is a business cost to accepting and adapting to your employee’s performance. Think about the impact of working with weaknesses. In some cases, it will be the right thing to do like the example. In other cases, it may be the wrong thing to do. It can get costly when you stop focusing on your revenue generating activities because you are solving problems, working around skill gaps, or dealing with the headaches and drama caused by poor performers.
What about you? Do you find yourself spending too much time working around your employees’ weaknesses? If you or someone you know needs some help with their hiring process, call me, send an email, or text MOMENTUM to 480-418-1411 to 480-418-1411 to get more in-depth, step-by-step recruiting help. And, the best part is that it’s FREE!