It’s Valentine’s Day and everyone is focused on love — either celebrating it or longing for it. As a small business owner, you probably feel this way every day: either you have the right people and celebrate their success, or you long to find the right people and hope that someday you’ll get lucky and those folks will walk through your door. In both love and in hiring, hope and luck rarely work well. You want to have diamonds and are fed up with getting coal!
According to the GIA®, “Every diamond is a miracle of time and place and chance. Like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.” When you hire, you need to understand what kind of people you need — their skills, attitudes, mindset, and beliefs. You can’t afford to leave it to chance or expect a miracle. When the GIA® created the 4Cs of Diamond Quality, they created a universal language to communicate with customers so they would know exactly what they were purchasing. I’ve created the 4Cs of hiring to help you create your universal hiring language.
The good news is that using the 4Cs of hiring isn’t as hard as you think and soon you will be joyfully in love with your hiring process. It takes a small investment of your time to do your research, understand your needs, and implement the 4Cs of hiring: clarity, culture, consistency, and communication.
Clarity is probably the hardest of the 4Cs. You need to start with the proper perspective to find the right people. If you don’t know exactly what you need, how will you know when you find it? Getting clear on your needs means finding a quiet moment to focus on the tasks you need to have done, what the results of the tasks will be, and what skills are needed to achieve those results.
This can be overwhelming for you as a busy small business owner struggling to keep all the wheels in motion. You have a lot to manage, so finding that quiet time to focus on your needs can be difficult. A common mistake I see is rushing to hire the first available person in hopes of lightening the load, rather than taking the time to understand your needs and waiting to hire the best available. Often, this approach costs you more time and money than carving out the time to think strategically and waiting to hire the right person.
Resist getting caught up in choosing the “best” from the first available. It’s better to be understaffed than to have a bad employee who will affect the performance and morale of the rest of your team. This can lead to future problems with productivity, turnover, training costs, and retention of good performers. Do yourself a favor and keep searching until you find the right fit.
Here’s a great example of lacking clarity and rushing to lighten the load without being clear on what you truly need. A small business owner rushed to hire a general manager because she needed someone during a stressful, busy time period. She thought she needed someone who was highly experienced in her niche industry. The result was disastrous and almost bankrupted her business. The person she hired lacked critical skills and abilities like leadership, problem solving, critical thinking, and the ability to handle a huge volume of work in a stressful environment. Had the owner been clear on the importance of these abilities, waiting a few more weeks to find the right person would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as a major time investment and a big hit to her personal sanity.
Like people, your business has a unique personality or culture. Your business has core values, beliefs, and a unique mission. Your business is not like your competition and when you understand your unique value proposition, you can then use that in your hiring process to attract people who share your values, beliefs, and mission. Company culture can be hard to define, and a simple way to start is to list the top three or four behaviors critical to success in your business. These behaviors are your company culture translated into daily operations.
I often see small business owners ignoring their culture in their hiring process. When you don’t take the time to identify your core values and beliefs, you end up on a hiring roller coaster. You are excited to hire that amazingly talented person but are let down when he or she causes all sorts of problems. Great technical skills are not enough. You have to hire for attitude in addition to skill.
Whether you are hiring for the first time, or have been hiring for a while and not finding the right people, you can use your list to watch for these behaviors and skills in your own business and in the companies with which you interact on a daily basis. When you go to a restaurant, visit a customer’s office, stay in a hotel, or just generally interact with people in your daily life, watch for examples of these behaviors and think about how they impact the success — or failure — of that business.
Consistency is critical. Everyone in your business needs to be on the same page and understand the definitions of your cultural values, beliefs and mission. Using the examples of behaviors you observed in others while defining your culture, write down specific and measurable definitions for your organization. Include definitions of both successful and unsuccessful behaviors. If you don’t understand the difference between success and failure, it will be hard for you to communicate that to your employees and potential employees.
Here’s a sample definition of a behavior required in most small businesses — flexibility.
High Performer: Adjusts rapidly and effectively to changing conditions and work demands. Views change as an opportunity to learn new things and has a similar approach to stressful situations. Invests personal energy toward accepting and adapting to change rather than resisting or resenting it.
Low Performer: Tends to react negatively to change. Productivity and relationships with others suffer. Those who fail to demonstrate flexibility tend to continue in a direction that is no longer relevant or productive, express regrets when things are not as they used to be, and show distinct signs of stress while others are already moving forward in a new direction.
Words mean different things to different people. We have all had moments when we were surprised, shocked or left speechless by behavior or actions that weren’t what we expected. Clearly defining both high and low performance will keep everyone on the same page.
Get your message out to both your current and potential employees. Communicate your culture in your job description, which is the outline of the role and responsibilities, and in your job ad, which is your sales pitch to attract the right people to your business. Your job ad has to speak to your ideal candidate and create an urgency for them to work for your company.
Great candidates want to know why their work matters, how they can contribute to making a difference, and what it will be like to work for your company. They need to know that your business shares their core values. Communicate why what they do matters (the purpose or mission of their work). Show a clear line of sight from their work to achieving your mission. Give them visuals: charts, graphs, infographics, video, feedback from clients, the community, and your competitors. Don’t keep them in the dark. Share results, both successes and failures. Honestly communicate with them so they know how they’re doing and how it contributes to the success of your company.
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I’d love to hear what’s working for you. Share your stories of how you are using the 4Cs to fall in love with your hiring process. If you’re not quite ready to go it alone and would find it helpful to have someone walk you through the 4Cs, visit my website to learn more and schedule your free consultation.