You’re Hired!: Easy Tips to Help You Avoid BIG Hiring Mistakes

One of the big themes in 2015 that I’m seeing with all my clients is building a great team, which I love because no matter what the size of your business – you cannot do it all alone. Well you can, but you’ll be overwhelmed, tired, stressed and not having any fun 🙂

Why Having a Team is Important

Avoid hiring mistakes | Best hiring practicesHaving a team allows you to better leverage your time and talents – and focus on what you do best – so you can support your clients in getting the results they desire (and get paid well for it, too!).

Plus, you can work less so that you can have more time for other things that are important to you. Most importantly, all those tasks on your to-do list that never seem to get done will finally be crossed off your list.

To make this task a little easier for you, I am going to share some of the most common hiring pitfalls and how to avoid them. In my career, I have successfully hired hundreds of people and have encountered a few non-successes as well.

The Biggest Hiring Mistake Is…

What is that old saying- we learn from our mistakes? True, but I prefer to learn from others’ mistakes when possible. Here is a big one to learn from:

The biggest hiring mistake you can make as a business owner: hiring someone because s/he is like you.

I see this over and over – and in full disclosure, have fallen victim to this one myself. Sometimes you’re interviewing someone and she just resonates with you so closely. You find yourself really liking her and thinking you could totally be great friends. In fact, she is so much like you, you are sure this will be a perfect pairing.

What tends to happen is this: since the new hire is like you, she also likes to do the same things and has the same strengths, skills set and personality as you do.

Problem is – there is already one of “you” in the company. You hired that person to do specific tasks, and they are most likely the tasks you either don’t know how to do or don’t like to do.

So, no one is doing those tasks. But you really like the person so it feels bad to tell her that it isn’t going to work out. You think it might get better, so you put those tasks back over on your to-do list.

The result? They…Still…Are…NOT…Getting…Done.

How to Avoid Hiring Blunders

How can you avoid this? These tips below are key whether you are hiring a virtual assistant, a bookkeeper, a sales rep, an intern or a full time employee. Let’s get started:

  1. Know your own strengths and weaknesses so you can focus on finding someone who can complement your skill set. For instance, I know I love to create and I still have a little perfectionism in me. I know I need someone on my team who is more of a taskmaster and is going to push me to get things done – and keep moving forward.
  2. Clearly identify what tasks need to be done by someone other than you. Include the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform them, and the behavioral traits important to succeed in your company. These could be technical such as computer skills, customer service skills, or ability to handle multiple requests and deadlines. You are the boss so you get to decide what is important for your
  3. Write up a job description for the work you need done based on the information created above. It doesn’t have to be fancy or “corporate”- you just need it to share with potential candidates or for posting on various sites.
  4. Create a list of questions for candidates. This helps you get the information you need and enables you to be consistent with everyone you are speaking to.
  5. Look for candidates. This could be posting on job boards, submitting a request on eLance, asking colleagues for referrals, posting on Facebook, or reaching out to college placement offices. Where you look is going to depend on the type of team members you need.
  6. Conduct a formal interview with prepared questions. This can be on the phone, Skype, or in person – whichever works best for your business model. I recommend always having a phone interview before meeting with anyone in person just to make sure they meet the minimum requirements. If the team member is going to be virtual, then stick with the phone or Skype.
  7. Ask these two critical questions:
    1. What do you love doing that you would happily do even if you weren’t getting paid?
      You are listening for 2 things here;

      • You will find out what they are passionate about – THEIR genius zone, and
      • Their responses should coincide with the activities that are outside of YOUR genius zone (the things you don’t know how to do, don’t like to do, or don’t want to do).
    2. What questions do you have for me?
      • If they don’t have any- red flag! No questions = no interest in you – or your company.

Avoid hiring mistakes | Best hiring practices | Keys to hiringYes, these steps will take some of your time initially. However, I can tell you from experience that doing this upfront work will save you time and money in the long run.

You will bring on team members who are aligned with your needs and visions as a business owner, and who have the necessary skills, knowledge and ability to get things done so you can focus on running your business and serving your clients (you know…the reason you went into business in the first place!).

When you do the work up front, it also helps reduce the chances of having to let someone go- directly (“you’re fired”) or indirectly (“no, I don’t have any projects for you this month”).

Tell Me: What issues have you encountered building your team – and what did you do about it?

 

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

The MOST Important Question You Can Ask

I recently read an article in Fast Company that shared the most important question to ask a new team member: “Describe a decision that the company has made that raises an eyebrow for you?”

I think it’s brilliant question – even if a little scary.

We spend a lot of time looking for and selecting talented people for our teams, whether they are full time employees, contract staff or virtual team members.

They come to us with a fresh perspective, aren’t hung up on the way “we” do things, and are pretty sharp (or else we wouldn’t have hired or contracted with them in the first place). So why not ask their opinion on what we are doing that just plain doesn’t work?

I know it’s a little scary. Being told what we aren’t doing well is a little disheartening, but it’s better to know than lose a team member (or a client for that matter). We get very comfy with how we do things, and perhaps need a reminder to stay sharp and focused.

Feedback

Why leave this question to just new employees?

You can ask a similar question to your current team members and even your clients, coach or mentor.

If you like to hear the good along with the bad, you can use the following approach to get a well-rounded view:

  1. What are we doing that isn’t effective, that we should STOP doing?
  2. What are we doing really well that we should CONTINUE doing?
  3. What aren’t we doing, that if we START doing would make us even more effective?

When I did a similar exercise I received some great feedback that will definitely help me be more effective as a CEO and business owner. Since I won’t ask you to do something I haven’t already done, here is some of the feedback I received:

  • My perfectionism causes me to be a huge bottleneck for my team being able to complete their tasks on time
  • I believe “diamonds are made under pressure” but not everyone else does. Waiting to the last minute affects my teams productivity and sanity (and my check book)
  • Even though I help my clients create systems for their business, my own systems need to be documented in a way that others can manage them (and I can better delegate them)
  • I need better scheduling and invoicing processes for my clients

Confession time: some of these are the same things that drove my staff crazy when I worked in the corporate world (ouch!). While I’ve made some progress I still have some work to do. On the plus side, all of this is fixable (some easier to fix than others), within my control, and will lead to a better team member and client experience.

Give this a try and see what type of feedback you receive. I’d love to hear about it so please share in the comments how it went.