The Norman Transcript

June 15, 2008

I just can’t get good people

Do you find yourself saying this?

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that two out of three new hires prove to be a mistake within the first year — at a cost of thousands of dollars for each departing employee. Hiring mistakes negatively impact productivity and erode your company’s profits. In Jim Collins’ study and book “Good to Great” he states: “The good-to-great leaders understood three simple truths. If you begin with ‘who’, rather than ‘what’, you can more easily adapt to a changing world.

“If you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away.

“If you have the wrong people, it doesn’t matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won’t have a great company.”

What would your business look like if your hiring system delivered the right person 75 percent of the time? Here are some tips to stack the odds in your favor.

Create thorough job descriptions

Most business owners use job descriptions to ensure the candidate understands the positional duties and responsibilities; but here’s where many fall short. A good job description also should include a list of the skills and competencies required to perform the tasks and duties expected. Other information that also should be included: certifications, education and experience required or preferred.

• Work environment and any special physical requirements, such as ability to lift 70 lbs, stand 8 hours per day, etc.

• How we measure success; the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you will use to evaluate performance for this position.

• Well-written job descriptions for all team members help keep you focused on what you want, facilitate quick hiring when the need arises and communicate your expectations to candidates and current employees.

Market for

employees, just

like customers

Recruiting, like marketing, is most effective when it is targeted, planned and executed with consistency. Start with the basic question, “What makes your company a great choice for potential employees?” Having a written Culture Statement that is alive and well will help you to answer this question. Cross checking your Culture Statement with your employees’ experience should be a regular practice. Now is a good time to ask your current team — they’ll tell you.

Next, identify the best ways to reach potential employees for the position you are hiring. It likely will vary based on the position. Develop the “advertisement” to attract them and be creative. The rules of good advertising apply — great heading, good content and a call to action. Include the aspects of your company that make it a great place for the type of person you wish to attract, as well as the “spirit” of the person you desire. Additionally, always be on the lookout for good people who can bring value to your organization. Make recruiting something that is ongoing, not crisis driven. Remember “Good to Great.”

Make hiring a

de-selection process

Your time is valuable. Don’t waste it interviewing potential employees who don’t possess the character qualities you need or don’t fit into your culture.

You can improve your results and save time by incorporating a de-selection process, using a phone screen and group pre-interview assessment to test for integrity, work ethic and passion. If you design the group pre-interview assessment properly, those have the “fire in the oven” will stand out and those who don’t will leave (de-select themselves), saving you time and hiring mistakes.

Your written vision, mission, and culture statements are a valuable tool at this point to assist in the de-selection process. During the group pre-interview meeting, use these tools with the position’s KPIs to communicate the high standards of behavior and performance expected by all within your company. If you effectively communicate these criteria, those you would not want on your team will depart, leaving you with the “cream of the crop.”

What are you looking for at this stage? Passion, confidence and the desire to grow. These attributes are much more important than knowledge or experience, which can be taught. Stay disciplined and only interview candidates who make it through both the phone and group interview steps.

Once you decide to schedule someone for an interview, e-mail them the job description so expectations are clear before they arrive. Have the candidate meet with multiple people, when possible and employ behavioral interview techniques and tests to probe for the skills and competencies that are most critical. Be willing to turn down candidates who are not the right fit and don’t settle for less than the best.

Believe you can

and you will

Sounds simple, but too often we defeat ourselves before we start. Telling yourself “I just can’t get good help” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, start telling yourself “I have a great team committed to achieving our goals.” Even if it’s not yet true — you can make it so. Remember the objective when hiring is to be able to say three years later that, “Knowing what I know now, I’d hire this person again in a heartbeat.”

Rob Garibay is a local business owner and business coach with 30+ years of business experience. Forward your business questions to 573-6537 or