Finding the right people to run your business is tough. Perhaps the worst part of this process is losing that key employee that took so long to find. As a fellow entrepreneur puts it: Your staff gets trained, they start to perform well, and then they leave… it’s like a “Thanks and see ya!”
At the last business conference I attended the facilitator asked a room full of CEO’s and managers the following question: “If you could outsource one part of your business what would it be?”
The overwhelming response was a staff training program!
So how do we find great employees? And how do we create clear expectations and incentives to keep our staff motivated to keep working to achieve those goals?
Hiring the Right People Starts with the Right Language
Finding the right people starts with the language you use for your job descriptions. Make sure to write a job post that appeals to the kind of people you want to hire. That means your job postings and interview questions should be focused on the values and attitudes you expect of your employees rather than the task at hand.
It will be much easier to teach someone a new task than to change their personality. If you want to find a good fit for your company, make sure to look for candidates whose personal ideals fit with your company’s philosophy and mission.
For instance, if you are looking for a new teacher that will be passionate and flexible, instead of starting your ad with the words “New teaching positions available,” start your ad with the values and beliefs of your company. So for instance something like, “We are a growing company with a fun team and opportunity for advancement.”
Find the Right Place For Your Job Posting
Post those job descriptions in a place where the type of person you are looking for will find them. That might mean advertising online like Craigslist, Indeed.com, or Idealist.org. Also consider printing out your job description to post at a local school, college, sports facilities etc.
I’ve used some unconventional hiring practices as well. For instance, I’ll scout local adult gymnastics classes to see if any of the participants might be potential good hires. Don’t be afraid to tap into your network, whether that’s local clubs, church group, or an athletic team you are a part of.
Do “Due Diligence” on your Potential Hires
As the saying goes: “Slow to hire, quick to fire.” Take your time to vet the new staff member. Always conduct a background check and call at least two references.
I once had a good friend of one of my key staff members apply for a job. I took the word of my key staff member as proof and reference for the applicant and didn’t bother calling any references. Turned out, the friend was a complete spaz and didn’t even show up to her first day at work!
When I later questioned my employee about it turned out that she was simply uncomfortable being honest about her friend’s work ethic. If I would have called the friend’s past work supervisors I would certainly have discovered the issue and never hired this person.
Create a Hiring Pipeline
Hiring is an ongoing process. You should always be hiring. I find that the easiest way to constantly have a flow of potential good staff at my program is internships.
In NYC, there is a public program called Summer Youth Employment, where the city pays local teenagers from low income homes to work at eligible local businesses. I generally hire a group of 3-5 summer interns every summer through the program.
I put together a fun and educational summer program for these interns so that these teenagers have an educational and productive summer. Besides for helping our regular staff with summer camp, the interns generally attend between 10 – 30 hours of classroom training, and we put together fun staff outings for them to enjoy.
How a Pipeline Can Turn Into a Job
Over the summer, some of the interns start to set themselves apart and take the job seriously. I have a conversation with those interns and offer them to train in as assistant coaches over the next season. By the time these teenagers graduate high school they are ready to be a full fledged coach.
Now of course, most of these teenagers don’t work out. However, the program is a great way to have a steady flow of candidates coming in. Because these interns are teenagers and just there for the summer, the “bad apples” don’t affect the other staff members the same way a bad apple employee would.
In fact, the opposite is true. The interns inspire the staff to be good role models. I also use the internship program as a way to train in current staff to manage.
For us, it’s a win-win. The coaches all have a valuable management experience over the summer. The interns have a lot of fun. We are contributing to the community at large by educating the local youth. And the money we spend on the program is well worth the quality hires we ultimately acquire through this pipeline.
Now, because the government subsidies the pay for the interns, we have the flexibility to spend money to put a great program together. However, I believe the same can be done with many college internships as well. If you set up a good program that the local university approves for college credit you can create a hiring pipeline with university students.
If you do choose to do a college internship program, I recommend hiring freshmen so you can get more time with them!
In a service based business, the staff is the business. Our service is only going to be as good as our employees. In order to ensure quality control of our service, every employee needs to be carefully vetted, trained and supervised.
Once you hire an employee, make sure to set clear expectations with them. The employee contract and handbook should outline all the necessary policies and expectations.
At the end of the day, even your best staff member may need to leave your for whatever reason it is. However, you can be prepared for that transition. Constantly communicate with your staff and ask them to share with you their future hopes and goals. That way you will be informed and prepared for necessary changes.
Set up an ongoing training program so that there is always a stream of potential hires. At some point you just might have to say thanks and see ya to your employees, so let’s create a cycle where the thanks will be heartfelt on both sides!