Adding a new team member is one of the biggest decisions we make at Mason Music. We say it all the time. The people we add to our company will have a bigger impact on our company than the company will have on them. In other words, you can’t expect to change people (at least, not completely) after you hire them, so you better hire good people who are going to make your team better. After all, what is a company other than the people it comprises? Your values and mission are only words on paper until you have the right people carrying them out with you.
What’s at Stake
Every time you hire a new person, you are adding a new ingredient into your cultural stew. Personality, character, competency, ability and attitude (especially) are all interactive. In other words, they have an effect on the other people already in your company, staff and customers alike. We started with a staff of two and have grown to over 50 people at four locations. I can tell you that the single most important decision I make is who we bring on board.
Have No Fear!
Choosing the next person to hire in your company can be a daunting and stress-filled process, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, this is something you will be doing again and again throughout the life of your business. Just like reordering inventory or closing your store at the end of the day, hiring new people is a process that needs a plan. Once you have this plan in place, the result will be better hiring decisions, less employee turnover, and you will be freed up to focus your energy on growing your business instead of worrying about who’s going to work that shift after so and so leaves next week for a different job.
To take some of the pressure off, go ahead and accept that there is a learning curve here. You will make bad hires. If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you probably already have! That’s OK! The best way to learn, after all, is to act. Get out there and do something. Then, follow up and decide what went right, and where you could have done better. So, when (not if) you make a bad hire, don’t consider that a failure. Rather, it’s an opportunity to learn. Failure would be making the same mistake again (don’t do that).
Step Zero: Expectations First
Before you even start interviewing, you need to be crystal clear about what it is that you need this person to do. Expectations can only be met if they are communicated up front, and you as an employer need to know what those expectations are before you can communicate them to an applicant.
The best time to communicate expectations is always before. I’ve heard that disappointment is the distance between your expectation and your experience. If that’s true (and I believe it is), then how unfair would it be to feel disappointed (or frustrated) with someone who never knew the expectation that you had for them? How were they supposed to do the things you didn’t tell them up front? And, by the way, this goes both ways. Your applicants have expectations about the job they are applying for, too. It’s best to talk through this and manage expectations on both sides before moving forward with someone who just wouldn’t be a good fit.
So, first things first. Put together a detailed job description, even if the job title alone seems sufficiently clear to you. Doesn’t everyone know what a salesperson does? The problem with this line of thinking is that we, as humans, tend to fill in a lot of details based on our own experiences, so your idea of what a salesperson does might be totally different than your applicant’s idea. For example, you may assume that a salesperson would also be responsible for cleaning and counting inventory, while your applicant may come from a previous job where salespeople were only responsible for talking with customers and working the register. You can save yourself (and your potential new hire) a lot of grief by supplying a detailed job description before you make a job offer. Your job description will also be very helpful when creating interview questions.
So, what needs to be on your job description?
Job Title: Make it short and sweet, with no room for
Mission Statement: Get this out front, so an applicant knows the point of all the work to
Areas of Responsibility: What are the functions of this job?
Accountability: Who does this person report to? How does this job fit into the organization?
Competencies: What professional attributes are required to be successful in this role?
Hours and Pay: Though this seems cut and dried, be sure not to underestimate the importance of communicating clearly and accurately on this topic. Remember, you are providing someone with an opportunity to support themselves (and possibly their family) financially. Work-life balance and pay are at the top of the list for most people when deciding which job is right for them.
Opportunity for Advancement: Lack of clarity in this area is a reason many people identify for leaving their jobs. It is consistently the second most common reason behind simply disliking their boss. Make it clear up front what advancement looks like in your company, both in terms of merit raises and promotions.
OK, so that’s what you need to do before you go any further. Take some time and put together a clear job description and you will be on your way to better hiring decisions! If you already have job descriptions for every position in your company, good for you! It’s time to refresh them. Update them with new responsibilities, pay rates, etc., and have everyone sign off on the current agreement you have implicitly in place.
I hope this is helpful information to those of you reading! I know it has taken me a lot of trial and error (mostly error) to learn what I’m writing about, so put it into practice and let me know how it works for you!
Over the next year, we will be diving into the process for making great hires. Here’s an overview of the steps:
Step Zero: Expectations first (create a great job description)
Step 1: Now hiring (refining your application process)
Step 2: Interviews aren’t everything (but they still matter)
Step 3: Reference and background checks
Step 4: Decision time (yes or no?)
Step 5: You’re hired, now what? (orientation, training and reviews)
You can find me on twitter @goodwill314. In my next article, we will take a look at how to create a great application and how to conduct an effective interview. See you back next time!