We’ve been discussing the on-boarding process at length recently, both within the Institute and with clients, and the need for better hasn’t been clearer. One of the biggest issues in our industry at the moment is finding and holding onto talented employees. What’s something you can do to alleviate the problem? Focus on providing the right onboarding process for the right people.
The best place to start is at the beginning. What is the job that you’re hiring for? Down to the “T”, what is this job? What duties will they need to perform and to what standards? Ambiguity leads to indifference, and indifference drives people away. Defining your expectations upfront, in a clear and concise way, will make it easier to attract prospective employees and keep them from leaving. People like to know what’s going to happen when it comes to their livelihood.
What do they need to do, what is considered a win or a loss, what are their opportunities career-wise, and what do they gain? And most importantly when will these things happen?
First, create a detailed job description. This will also come in handy when you’re training them because it’s a list of what they need to do/know. Also, if you include written processes for all the tasks they’d need to perform, the better. It’s not difficult to write a process – just get it done, you’ll thank me later. If you’re looking for a place to start, email me and I’ll send you my guide to process writing.
Once you have the “job” created, hopefully with processes included, you should turn your focus to the journey. What does it look like from the moment they see my ad to having them fully integrated into my team?
People who are worth it want more than just a job, so give that to them. Show prospective employees that your business is more than a job. Show them that it’s a career, it’s a family, team, community, whatever. Express your ideals and values, people can invest in values. You can also list some of the duties required obviously, but expressing your culture, vision, and mission will pull the attention of the right people.
Hiring can be tricky, but there’s an easy way to handle it. These 3 things will mitigate the cost of hiring the wrong person.
1 - Be thorough. Hiring the right person is a lot less difficult than managing the wrong one. Ask as many questions as you can. Test their strengths, drives, and personality. Get your team involved in the interview process as well. You can never be too thorough.
Here’s a list of things I suggest you include somewhere in your finding and hiring process:
Skill and Competencies
You need to know if they can physically and mentally perform the tasks required of the position. This is the least important part by the way, skills and competencies can be learned.
Social Skills and Communication
They have to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with you, your team, and the customer. If they can’t communicate, they will ostracize themselves and in doing so, prevent them from ever being a “part” of the team.
Strengths and Drives
What motivates this person? What gives them that extra drive to do more than is expected? What are this person’s capabilities and where are they strongest? Knowing these things allows you to exploit them later by setting proper goals and guiding them towards areas they will excel at. Set them up to succeed.
Attitude or Temperament
A person who has little knowledge but a determination to learn is far more valuable than someone who is competent and apathetic. This is one of the more elusive qualities to judge about a person. Try asking how they would handle certain situations, let your team interview them, put them under some stress and see how they respond. If they follow this with a shrug and an “I don’t know,” they aren’t your next hire.
Provide opportunities in your process to express your values, culture, vision and mission. Interviews are a 2-way street. They are interviewing your company as a prospective new home to spend the majority of their time with. Show them that you are something they can invest in. Help them to buy-in to your vision.
Expectations and Standards
Setting your expectations early saves you stress and aggravation later on. Be very clear and upfront with your expectations. They should also get an idea of what they can expect from you. Set the precedent and get it in writing. This will help to navigate training and re-training once their employed.
Where does this person fit within my existing team? You need to know ahead of time where this person will fit within the dynamic of your team before you hire them and force them into your culture. Even a skilled, competent, and charismatic prospect can show ego later on. Star performers might turn into prima-donnas if they don’t know how to work on a team. And no employee is better than a selfish one.
2 - Be strict. This is where I tote my “9/10ths Rule” again. If they don’t feel like a 9 out of 10, move on. This seems harsh, but if you lay out exactly what you’re looking for, then that’s who you should hire. Don’t compromise on skill, attitude, or communication skills because you feel the desperation that comes with hiring a new employee. Hire the right person.
3 - Be consistent. Whatever process you build to evaluate new talent, keep it consistent. Consistency will show you where you’re having trouble areas. If you keep losing someone on their 4th month in, you can go back and see exactly where things may have gone wrong. Consistency also shows that you care about the process. There’s an added respect among your team, and yourself, when you hold yourself accountable to the standards and values of your company. New talent will notice this, and it will attract the right person.
Finding and hiring the right person can be stressful, so try to keep it simple. Keep these 3 things in focus and you will find the right person to hire.
Once you’ve hired the best candidate, you need to onboard them. If you’ve done everything I talked about earlier, this will be simple and easy. You’ve already laid the foundation, you know exactly what they need to do, how they need to do it, and you know that they understand the culture. This is the follow-through with the expectations you hammered-in during the Finding & Hiring Process.
You just need 2 things to get them onboarded; a checklist and a deadline. Put the things they need to learn on a list. Train, test competency, check it off, and move-on to the next. Be very clear on what they need to pass-off and to what standard. If they need further training that’s perfectly fine as long as you stay on top of the deadline.
Determine a “finish-line” for them. Define what it will take to transition from trainee to employee and stick to it. If you set the precedent in the beginning, it will be that much easier to follow-up on later.
And finally, the Endgame. Those who know me, know that I am a passionate gamer. And I can tell you that some of the best games have a well-executed, well-thought out Endgame. It’s what some would call “Replay Value”. Really talented and passionate gamers will blow through the main story and if there’s nothing to challenge, excite, and engage them afterwards, they’ll get bored and move on. The same can be said about our most talented employees, and frankly this is why the industry can’t seem to hold onto truly great employees.
So, let's think about this in terms of our shop. Once we have these employees, we’ve handled all the preliminary stuff, finding, hiring, training, but now what? Nobody wants to do the same thing day-in-day-out. How is that supposed to fulfill anyone?
People need to grow and develop, it’s human nature. Find out what they want out of life and find a way to fit that into their professional growth. Provide opportunities for them to gain knowledge, to challenge themselves, and to give back to others. Invest in their personal and professional growth and they’ll invest themselves into the success of your company.
It’s a risk, but that risk does not go unnoticed. If you’re worried that training your employees will make them vie for greener pastures, I would say you need to make your own pastures greener. And LET THEM HELP. It will give them ownership and accountability towards it and keep them invested in your company.
If you want to find and keep the right people; train them the right way and work diligently to be the right place for them.