Congratulations! Your business is doing fantastic and orders are growing everyday. It’s gotten to the point where you need to start thinking about getting some help in the shop. It’s a decision that a lot of shops mentally wrestle over. Who should you hire? Where to look? What do we do with them once they are onboard? This article aims at giving you a few tips to get in front of this challenge.
Who should you hire? Like any decision in your business there are long term consequences for actions taken or not taken. Adding staff is a crucial component to scaling your business, as the more people you have doing the work in your shop, the more work that can get accomplished. Your focus should be on hiring the best person you can afford. Be realistic. If you need a manual printer, hire a manual printer. If you need a customer service person, hire a customer service person. However, if you are looking for experienced, talented and skilled people for these positions go in with eyes open and know that the ones that truly have the depth of knowledge will cost you more. Think about the pay range you can offer. “X” is the minimum amount and “X” is the maximum you can afford.
So what happens if you can’t afford an experienced, and vastly skilled person for a particular position but need help in that area? Simple, you are going to have to hire and train that person to meet your needs. This is usually known as growing your own talent. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it just takes longer to get ramped up in the skill level. Who should you hire then?
The old adage “Hire for attitude, train for skill” applies. Look for someone that wants to make a difference. They want to be given the opportunity to shine and grow into a new position. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are new to working either. Applicants may have experiences in other industries that could prove to be valuable training for what you are seeking. I seen great candidates that grew tired of the feast or famine nature of the construction business become great staff members as they applied their hard work ethic into learning this industry.
Where do you look? I always recommend to trying to find people that you, your vendors, customers, family or friends may know first. Susie or Johnny may need a job and if someone knows your business and knows them then that might be a good matchmaking exercise. You can still interview them and make a decision to hire them or not, but often these types of recommendations can work out for everyone. If you have employees currently make an offer of a $100 bonus to them if the new hire they recommend makes it to their six month hire anniversary date.
Social media is another great way to find candidates. If your company has a website, post you are hiring with the job description and compensation information on the page. Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and your other channels to promote the website link to the job. Your website will act as a 24/7 recruiter for you.
Lastly, there’s always traditional job postings in pay services such as Craig’s List, Indeed, Monster or your local newspaper. These work fine, but be sure to cull out the applicant’s that won’t be a good fit. All of these services all cost to post, so try the free ones out first before adding these to efforts.
Dig deep in your interview. Once you have a pool of candidates start the process with some phone interviews. These should be short; about ten minutes is all you are after. I try to get a vague sense of the person over the phone, and make a call whether their experience and professionalism matches what’s on the resume or not. This isn’t the interview, but just a gloss over to see if you want to spend the time interviewing them. I probably only interview about 10-25% of the candidates that apply for any job. Be very judgemental. Trust your gut or inner voice. If something strikes you as weird or off-putting just go on to the next person.
For the interview, I’m looking at the entire picture. Do they show up early? Do they present themselves well? Remember, every employee you hire is a reflection on your company and will add to the culture of your business. During the interview, I like having an extra person in the room too. Use your department manager or another employee if you have one. Their job is to get a sense of the person, ask a few questions, and look at their body language during the interview. Ask questions that can’t be answered with a yes or a no. Ask follow up questions, always. Dig deep into their responses. I always ask questions about how they work with others, teamwork, leadership, how they communicate, or have they ever solved a work place problem? I want to hear anecdotes about what they have accomplished before.
If the interview goes well, give them a tour of the shop. If it doesn’t thank them for their time and show them the door. If the candidate gets to take the tour, walk fast as you are giving it. Do they try to keep up? Take notice if they are asking any questions or seem extremely interested in your process. Almost to a person, the ones that keep up, ask questions and are genuinely interested in the business are the ones that will make great employees.
You’ve hired them, now what? Once you have made your decision and hired someone, the next step is to get them ingrained into your shop work culture immediately. Start with the basics. If you have a company handbook that outlines the standards and rules of your shop, review this on the first day. They need to understand exactly what is expected of them, and how they will fit into your shop’s daily routine. Before their first day, make a list of what they will need to know, who is training them, what some key points for them to learn. Make the list out a week or two in advance. If you have other people training the employee, give them the list too.
Your number one goal is to give clear expectations to your employees about what their duties are and set goals for them to achieve. Feedback is crucial. Talk to them constantly. New people are going to make mistakes, it is inevitable. Make sure they understand this and know that you are watching, and as long as the person isn’t just wantonly making errors constantly it will be ok. Learning is what’s important here.
The master goal. This is easy to define. Well trained, trusted and motivated employees can carry out tasks with very little supervision. Think about what you want for your shop and then set the expectations for your employees to achieve. Discuss everything. Use their ideas to grow and get better. Hold people accountable. When you add staff to this mix, you are adding another layer of complexity, so make sure the person you hire fits into the culture you have established and can fit into your business for the long term. Could you see the person being cross trained into other skills? Could they manage one day? Don’t just think about now, think a few years ahead. People matter, so hire accordingly.