Whether you’ve only started your small business or have been operating for a while, if you are growth-minded, at some stage you will be thinking about, if not already brought in employees to help you do the work and grow your business.
Sometimes, you strike it lucky and you find people who are the perfect fit.
They work hard, the way you want them to. They are good at whatever you hired them to do. They even get on with you and everyone else in the business, and they get on with the customers.
If you are in that boat, congratulations! All you have to do is make sure they are happy working in your business.
However, most small businesses go through some difficult periods finding the “right” employee or employees. If you’ve ever had the “right” people working for you, then you know that the right people make all the difference.
So, how do you get it right all the time?
There are three things you can do to increase your chances of finding an employee who is the perfect fit for the job and your business, and who can eventually save you money by his or her loyalty through savings in re-training time, recruitment costs and separation costs.
- You can make sure they fit the business and the job at the recruitment stage;
- You can make sure they know what their role and responsibilities are in the business; and
- You can make sure that they learn each task as they proceed in the job, and gain more and more experience.
Make Sure They Fit The Business And The Job
This is the most important of the three tasks if you want to find and retain the “right” employee – make sure that you increase your chances of finding the right person from the outset.
When we are looking to hire someone, most of us write a description of the position and advertise. Then, when we interview the applicants we check their ability to do the job.
Yet, how many of us have found that having the right technical ability is not necessarily equal to being the right person for the job!
I can attest to many an accounting-hire when I operated my larger accounting company who had all the right qualifications and showed the right number of years of experience, only to work with different values from those espoused by our company, or who lacked any drive to succeed. I used to get it wrong until I discovered the critical aspects of choosing the right person at the outset – at interview.
An interview is not just to see if they can operate under basic social intercourse! It’s not enough that they can show their skills and can actually answer questions intelligently! You need to now they bring what you need to the game.
My formula in an interview is first to ask questions to see if they can do the job; then ask questions to see if they will do the job, and finally to ask questions to see if they will do the job here.
Let’s go through these sets of questions.
First, you do need to find out if they have the right skills and experience for the job being advertised. This is what we do most of the time in an interview.
You ask questions about their qualifications, and you ask what happened in their past jobs and how they did their jobs. These closed questions should give you an idea of whether they are technically qualified, and if they are experienced enough for the role you expect them to fill.
However, it is useful to go beyond the closed and pointed questions to get direct information about skill and experience. Make sure you also ask “what-happened-when” questions, for example, “Tell me about a time when you had to show an inexperienced person how to do the task – how did you go about it?”
These “what-happened-when” questions can test their methods of applying their skill and experience so that you can see if, not only whether they know their stuff, but if they can apply their knowledge in slightly left-field situations.
However, this is where most of us stop – once we are satisfied they can do their job.
I would go through to the second set of questions to see if they will do their job.
These questions are about motivation.
I’m sure you have experienced people who are skilled, but just not motivated to do their jobs effectively or efficiently or completely.
Ask questions about where they see themselves in a year, in 5 years, after 10 years, and so on. These types of questions show whether they have their own plan for their future or if they tend to drift from job to job. Ask them what inspires them at work and what puts them off. Their ability to talk about these two situations can give you clues about their motivation and enthusiasm.
Of course, we don’t all need the most highly motivated go-getters! Depending on the job, maybe all you need is a good worker.
However, motivation also makes “just a good worker”, someone who is proud of their efforts and what they achieve. You just have to tailor your questions, and expectations of their answers, to match what you need.
Once you believe they can do the job and are motivated to do it well, then move to the third type of questions which is all about whether they will put in that effort and give their experience in your business. This is all about “fit”.
In these questions, you need to know first what type of business culture you operate. This means you need to have a clear vision of your business and what it will look and feel like in future. It means you will need to understand what are your core corporate values, the characteristics of what people in your business will break their backs to do and not do.
You should ask questions to see if they are likely to subscribe to your vision and your values.
Ask questions about what they look for in an employer. Ask them to give you their top 6 personal life values. Ask them hypothetical questions based on some of your values such as “If a customer came to you and complained about the behaviour of your colleague, and you think they are being over-critical, what would you do?” Or a question to test their fit to your vision: “If I were to say that one day, everyone will work independently and only have to meet their own, high Key Performance Indicators without any detailed supervision, what would you say?”
Testing them first on their skill and experience, then on their motivation, and finally on their fit to the business, will give you the best opportunity to find the right person, not only for the job, but also for the business.
If they respond well, you can then finalise the recruitment by checking testimonials to see if your perception is backed up by past employers.
Make Sure They Know Their Roles And Responsibilities
Most small businesses don’t run a formal “induction” when new people join (more of that later!) and any kind of introduction to the new job is to introduce them to colleagues and show them their desk or bench and then give them a job at hand!
I’d argue that if you do this, you just don’t build the foundation of a long engagement with a potentially good worker. If you have invested in the time to go through the “can they, will they, will they do it here” process at the interview, don’t throw away your chances of getting and keeping the right person by leaving them to it.
Before they start, you need to make sure you have a written “Position Description” or “Job Description”.
This goes beyond naming the position and what they do. People like to know where they fit in the pecking order, what their ability to be responsible is, and how they can improve and better themselves.
A good Position Description should contain the following information:-
- Title of the Position
- Qualifications expected (if any)
- Relevant experience expected
- Who they report to
- Who reports to them/Who they supervise?
- The key objective of their position (e.g. “To ensure the financial records are up to date and accurate” or “To maintain contact with customers and increase each year’s sales” or “To manufacture Widgets within the time allowed and zero defects”.
- Their daily duties – a basic description of what they are to do each day in order to achieve their key objective, for example, “Input financial transactions into the accounting software” or “Assemble the widget”
- Their responsibilities within those duties – the way you would measure how effective they are in their duties, for example, “All financial transactions for the day are entered by the end of the day” or “Ten widgets made every day with zero defects”. This section on their responsibility can also include their responsibilities with regard to colleagues, especially if they have to interact with others to get the job done.
While we are on the subject of Position Descriptions, you should also make sure that the Position Descriptions fit into an overall Organisation Chart designed for the future, so that each employee not only knows that their role and responsibility is, but also where they are in the business as a whole, and where they could progress or be promoted over time.
If you want to design your own organisation chart, you can download our free Organisation Chart Worksheet here.
Make Sure They Can Learn And Develop
Surveys have found that valued employees want to learn and develop, and if they think they can’t find the opportunity with you, they will go elsewhere.
Apart from offering them training in further, or new skills, or even skills outside their direct role (for example Time-Management or Supervising Others) you can give them their best path to learn and develop by writing up Procedures for each task in the business.
These can range from “how to meet and greet customers”, to “how to put together the Widget in the fastest way possible”, to “how to restock the shelves”!
Basically, you or your employees currently in those positions would have found the most efficient way to do mundane as well as highly-skilled tasks in your business. Think of how you tried and tested different methods or work-flows until you believed you had the best. Now, the task is to write them down so that everyone is following “the best” methods.
Procedures Manuals provide consistency of result and outcomes. They make your business scalable – just do more of the same but with more. They significantly reduce training-time and time gaining experience because you follow the dots. This helps new people in the business, but it also helps old people learn new tasks as they are promoted.
We have a Report on how to prepare your Policies and Procedures that you can download for free.
You just know that the right people make all the difference in your business!
Make sure you improve your chances of finding the right people.
If your track record has been hit and miss, you need to implement these three strategies:
- Make sure you find the best fit at the recruitment stage;
- Make sure new people know exactly what they do and what they are responsible for; and
- Make sure they have reliable systems and procedures to follow so that they can learn and develop.
Now, to help you grow your business, get more of these strategies that you can implement in your business straight away – go get them here.