Recruitment and Staffing
I was recently reading the NZ Business magazine (October issue) and they had done some research around the key issues that worried most NZ business people. Of the top 10 issues or challenges mentioned 3 were all related to staffing, recruitment and people. So even though there has been major changes in the last few years to assist business owners and managers around hiring (and firing) the actual decision making around when to hire, finding the right people and being able to afford more people is still relevant issues today.
Let's address each one (and remember these are rules of thumb - not absolutes)
When to hire someone
Do you hire someone when you are stretched to the limit and working non-stop?
Business owners and managers should have a good look at their overall efficiency of systems and processes before hiring people. Sometimes a better and more streamlined process is the first answer.
If, however, you are being effective and efficient as possible then you do need to be looking out for new people to help you and well before you get to this ‘over busy' state. If you bring on a new employee when you are feeling like this you will never be able to give the hiring process the correct attention and time needed to recruit the right person; A correct job contract, accurate job description, thorough interview process and, most importantly an induction into your business so they settle in fast.
The time to hire someone is when you have adequately looked at the role that they will perform and the tasks you will move onto them. There needs to be adequate workflow forecast to at least ensure their activity is a break even cost in the first months. Every employee should be returning at least double their wage or more once they have got past the first three months. Have you worked this number out?
Affordability of new people
Aside from the question of your budget mentioned above and whether the immediate business forecast can cover their costs there are several questions you need to assess for yourself here.
•1. Will the person that I hire save me or my other employees time and therefore make us more efficient?
•2. Will they bring more sales into the organisation and thereby effectively buy us more business? Or will their work enable me to more effectively market the business?
•3. Will the new employee ensure we can respond to our customers faster - and therefore mean we can invoice out more each month thereby increasing our cashflow?
•4. What is the bigger picture for the business - will bringing on someone now ensure future growth and capacity?
Finding the right people
‘There are so few good employees out there!' I hear this pretty often. I would say there are few good leaders out there as well. As you lead they will follow. However, there are some key areas that help you weed out the good performers from the weak. (Even if the candidate has been recommended to you, you must go through this process.)
First and foremost is a clear job description (not the job contract) that clearly sets out your expectations re the work they will have to perform. It is important to stress the skills they must have AND even more importantly the behaviour and attitude you expect the person filling the role to demonstrate. Skills can be taught, attitude cannot. You must be willing to interview hard and consistently across the candidates - you set their expectations on how they will work with you from the first contact. If you have used a job advert - make sure it really identifies who you want to target to answer your ad. Be prepared to see the person a couple of times and bring in an outside observer to help you if your past experience of hiring has been poor.
Absolutely follow up referees and ask the important question as to whether they would hire the person again. It is also possible to trial people for a short period of time (up to a day) to test the skills that they have said they have on their CV or work history. So long as it is clear that it is a specific trial and not a job offer, and that you pay for any work time performed.
Other employees are usually can be good judges of character as well. Check how they mix and mingle if you can.
Once you have hired someone ensure you have a good induction process in place. And spend at least an hour one on one with the person weekly for the first three months clearly outlining what they are doing well and where improvements need to be made. Document as you go.
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