Have you ever had to fire a team member? It is truly one of the most miserable parts of a business owner’s job. If you have never had to do it, consider yourself blessed. You may have to fire someone one day, but you can lessen that risk if you hire correctly. Don’t make the hiring mistakes we have made.
- Don’t do all the talking! Jason and I love to hear ourselves talk. We can go on and on about how great our firm is, what it means to work in a ROWE, how we are going virtual etc. And while there is a place for that in the hiring process, you need to make sure you spend most of your time listening to your potential team member. If you do all the talking, you may conclude the interview thinking what a genius the other person was, when really, they were just smart enough to let you talk!
- Don’t wait to hire until you are desperate and overworked. If you know you’ll need help by the fall or by next tax season, start meeting people NOW.
- Don’t rush the hiring process. We expect to hire two new people in the coming months. We assume we will have several meetings over a period of several weeks or months rather than one or two longer interviews. Each team member will have an opportunity to participate in the process and provide feedback.
Small businesses like most firms in THRIVEal don’t usually need to hire regularly, so they may neglect to create a process for hiring. We did. We’d manage to find someone after making most of the above mistakes and then feel relieved until we needed to hire again. No process at all. We had created a process for vetting new customers, creating barriers to entry so that we would be sure we were a good match once the new customer was onboarded, but we had nothing to guide us as we selected new team members. How foolish! The fact that we have such amazing team members in spite of our sloppiness is a bit of a miracle. (That and we know some great people that referred other great people to us!)
Hiring correctly is so important. Training (and retraining) is costly in terms of time and money. And morale. Frankly, the thought of some of the training I see in my future is exhausting. That is why I will go out of my way to see that we hire correctly next time. Firing people that should never have been hired in the first place hurts your team. It’s discouraging for them to see people they care about lose their jobs, and it can create an air of uncertainty about their own futures.
We are still learning, but we have gotten a basic process down on paper (digital of course). Since we have made so many mistakes in the past, we decided to implement a few ideas from the Entreleadership podcast featuring Clint Smith. We are also seeking out some coaching on this topic from one of our own clients who has an excellent hiring process. If your process is still only in your head, then don’t kid yourself, you don’t really have a process. Our hiring process is brand new and includes at least 4 meetings with several current team members as well as ways to assess how the candidate interacts with technology and his or her writing skills. We expect to update this process each time we hire and as we learn, but it’s a start.
Need help with hiring your next team member? Check out Jay Shepherd’s book Firing at Will and listen to him on the December 2011 episode of the THRIVEcast. Also, be sure to check out the Entreleadership podcast I referenced above, and consider using a few questions from this list as well. What do you do to make sure you get the right people into your organization? Let me know in the comments.