We knew it when we started the practice. We can’t do it all by ourselves. Our wife, mother-in-law, nephew, cousin, daughter’s college roommate, doesn’t want to help any more. We have to HIRE someone.
“Do you know anyone?”
“Will a ‘help wanted ad’ in the newspaper be successful in this job market?”
“Maybe a temp person that I could later hire would reduce my risk…”
“Search agencies cost HOW MUCH??!!!”
Hiring is always a scary process. The “perfect person” does not exist. Everyone needs training. How do we get along? Are they honest on their resume? Do I have the time to “show them the ropes”? Their paycheck comes before yours. This is NOT EASY!
Finding the right person to hire can be a less painful process if you know where the pitfalls are and how to overcome them. This blog looks at the most common mistakes business owners make in the hiring process and what to do about them.
Mistake #1: There is no written job description
In my last article we talked about creating your own MoneyTrail™. The MoneyTrail™ documents all the steps in the operation of a company, and by this, the duties and responsibilities of all employees of the company.
The first step in hiring is to have an accurate job description. How do you write a job description? Use the MoneyTrail™ to create your job descriptions. Include the seven critical elements of a job description:
- A statement of the overall objectives of the position as it relates to the mission and vision of the practice.
- A statement of all the responsibilities of the position. An example of a responsibility might be “making sure paperwork relating to insurance products is processed within two days of a client visit”.
- A list of all the duties of the position. Duties are the actual tasks of the employee. The duty related to the previous example might be “filling out all insurance paperwork”.
- A statement of the level of authority the position has in each duty and responsibility. There are five levels of authority. They are: 1) Find out and tell me. 2) Find out, think about it, and tell me. 3) Find out, think about it, tell me, and do it. 4) Find out, think about it, do it, and tell me. 5) Do it and tell me only if… This is Delegation of Authority, the topic of my upcoming July 2001 article.
- A statement of the lines of reporting. For example, “This position reports to the office manager. This position has the administrative team report to it. This position works in conjunction with client managers.”
- An OSHA statement. For example, “This position requires the ability to sit for 6 hours a day in an office chair, to work with a keyboard on a computer for five hours a day, and to be able to lift boxes of 20 pounds or less.”
Documenting each job description before you start your job search is the first step to clarifying qualified candidates for the position.
Mistake # 2: Resumes qualify a person for a position
We collect resumes from candidates. We evaluate the top candidates based on their resumes to determine whom to interview. We form an opinion based on the information in the document. It can easily become a fact sheet for qualifying for a position that the candidate must disprove, rather than validate.
You must keep in mind that this is the candidate’s first effort to get an interview for a position. Resumes do not win job offers. They are used to look at a candidate’s job experience, work history, and educational background in order to disqualify individuals from an interview. We tend to be very “picky” about resumes. Are there any spelling errors? Is it printed on quality paper? Is the resume just a chronology of past jobs? How many jobs have they had in the past 3 years? Somehow we think this qualifies (or disqualifies) a candidate, when it may do nothing more than determine their high school letter grade in English.
How do you evaluate a resume?
Great resumes should contain two key ingredients.
- The opening statement should let you know what the candidate is looking to offer to the company, and what they are expecting to receive from their efforts. For example: “I am seeking a position in customer support that can take advantage of my experience in insurance products, and that provides the training in management that allows me to advance in the company”.
- The body of the resume should include statements of effort that follow a general guideline of “Situation, Decision, Action, Results”. In other words, does the candidate tell you about an opportunity they had to address a problem or issue, explain their evaluation of the situation, share what they did, and tell you the results? Resumes that include this type of storytelling are great; you find out about how they problem-solve and adapt in “real-life” situations.
What is a resume capable of telling you? All a resume can reveal is how well a candidate can write about their cognitive abilities. Cognitive abilities include a person’s “IQ”, problem solving abilities, job experience, and “street smarts”. Resumes cannot tell us about a person’s relational skills, (Meyers-Briggs, DISC, S.E.T., are examples of tests that show relational tendencies), nor can they tell us about a person’s instinctual (conative) tendencies. Conative tendencies can be evaluated by the use of the Kolbe “A”™ test.
Resumes narrow the field of candidates to interview by letting you evaluate their cognitive abilities.
Mistake #3: If I really like them in the interview, they are “right” for the position
They passed the resume test. Now you are ready to interview. Times are set, and the candidate appears.
What typically happens at an interview? We are looking for
- Validation that what we read in their resume is true.
- An insight into their “work ethic”
- A sense that they will “fit” with our organization and us.
- A feeling that they “think” like us and we can trust them.
The first, validation, is fairly easy to determine. A few questions make it easy to see if “what you read is what they said”. The second, their “work ethic” can be determined through questions such as “Have you faced tight deadlines, or unexpected workloads? How did you manage them?” The third, a sense of “fit”, is also fairly easy. We are looking at their personality and communication/relational skills. Are they a Driver, Analytic, Expressive, or Amiable (S.E.T. terms)? Are they Extroverted or Introverted, and which would work better in the position (Meyers/Briggs terms)?
The fourth factor, the feeling of “thinking like us”, (and trusting them because of it) usually is the clincher to the offer. If it is true, we tend to hire that person. This is where the trouble begins.
We all like people that are “like us”. Do we have similar interests? Do we laugh at the same jokes? Are we both free form or are we both really organized? Do we both like the research and detail work, or are we both more intuitive? We feel comfortable with ourselves. It is natural to feel comfortable with others like us.
Unfortunately, this can be the fatal flaw. Especially in smaller organizations, (seven or fewer employees) populating the company with people just like us produces a very negative side effect. We multiply our own limitations and weaknesses in the organization. This tendency is a natural result of not understanding the instinctive energy we all possess (our conative makeup).
My own natural energy is to do a lot of research and fact-finding, and balance that against a lot of energy for new ideas, strategies, and tactics. I am not very energized to build the systematic processes and complete the detail work necessary to create a world-class finished product. Before I discovered this, I hired a number of employees that shared my conative makeup. We wound up with a long list of great strategies, tactics and services that we knew would work effectively, but none of them got far enough along to actually take to the marketplace. In reflection this makes much sense; we were too busy inventing new stuff for tomorrow to take care of what could be going on today.
The MoneyTrail™, proper job descriptions, and the Kolbe “A”™ tests work together to help avoid this pitfall. You need to look at the Money Trail™ to determine what you do not like to do in order to hire someone to do it for you.
Create a proper job description to clearly identify the tasks, duties, and responsibilities that must be fulfilled. By evaluating a candidate’s Kolbe “A” test, you can determine if their instinctive use of their energy matches the demands of their job description.
Does this process work? Recently I assisted a business owner with 13 employees that were experiencing high turnover, high stress, and limited profitability. After building their Money Trail™ and evaluating the Kolbe “A”™ tests, we made several simple changes. Two employees were shifted from being wage earners to independent sales/distribution. The remaining 11 employees were shifted to positions in the company that better matched their conative profiles.
The results? Turnover was eliminated. Productivity skyrocketed. Profits at the end of the first fiscal year were so large the company paid more in federal and state taxes than the principal paid himself in wages the previous year.
What is the challenge in determining “are they right for the job”?
- Write the job description.
- Do not qualify a candidate for a position on their resume alone.
- Hire people that offset your weakness through the natural use of their own instinctive energy.