Recruiting employees is not that hard. Finding the absolute best employees, well that is another story. Seems the old standards of character are hard to find in our culture today. Any employer would be blessed to hire employees of high integrity, work ethic, diligence and honesty.

Problems.

Not a day goes by when I don’t have an employer meeting with me telling me their woes in finding quality employees. They have no trouble recruiting employees, just trouble finding employees who want to work. Maybe with the crashing economy it will change, but I doubt it.

You see, the desire to work may change with the large number of layoffs, but finding candidates who have a high level of character and discipline will not. Character and discipline aren’t virtues that one can just turn on and off at will. It takes time to build character and discipline.

In starting a business you have taken the steps to develop your business idea, state your value proposition, develop the business plan and determine how you will fund the start up. Now comes the process of recruiting employees to help you achieve success.

employeeSearching for the best.

Finding the right employees can take time, but take the time, it is worth it in the end. Just like you can’t sell substandard product and succeed, you can’t build a successful business without recruiting employees who are top notch.

I will help you understand how to find the best employees for your business by outlining what has worked for me and those I have helped. I’ll also warn you as to what has not worked well in the past so you can avoid those problems. Firing or laying off employees is no fun.

Keys to success.

Let’s breakdown what I look for in an employee. First, I must have someone with high character and great attitude. Second, I look for the skills and experience necessary to accomplish the job or task. A priority between the two? If you must, hire character and attitude, train skills.

Experience is perhaps the single biggest predictor of success. This is true at both evaluating character and skills. You can look at what a candidate has done in the past, be it in prior jobs or community and social endeavors. Look to see what character or skills may have been exhibited.

You will review the candidate’s resume and references. Look for the specific character and attitudes you seek, not just skills. Check with the references asking questions that will tell you about the character and skills of the candidate.

Also, be sure not to just take references of a current employer, but go back further to a previous employer. Sometimes the current employer may just be looking to move this person on and you won’t get an accurate read.

Train character, demonstrate character.

After recruiting employees you have an ongoing job of teaching them character and attitude. The best way is by example and encouragement on your part. They have spent their life, up to this point, developing whatever character and attitude they have. Making changes is slow. You will need a very deliberate plan to facilitate this change.

Character is not taught deliberately to most people growing up. In fact, we are taught that whatever is true for you is fine. Unfortunately, that’s poor character training. Whatever each employee defines as true for themselves in the areas of honesty and punctuality is fine with you??

Think about it. What actual character traits do you want to see? Can you name seven absolutely important character traits you want when recruiting employees to work for you? Most struggle with this. If you can’t define it, how can you find it to hire?

Let’s take one simple character trait, punctuality. Is it important in your business that your employees are on time? Most employers I talk to tell me that they struggle to find employees that will even show up to work on time!

Make sure you know what character you want to hire so you deliberately look for it when recruiting employees. Make sure you have a plan in mind as to how you will consciously exhibit and train character into those who work for you.

 employeesExperience – good or bad?

We often think of experience as a good thing when hiring. Sometimes it is, especially with regard to skills. However, if you have a value proposition or methodology that it is different from how the experienced employee has worked in the past, they may struggle to adapt to your system. Sometimes the inexperienced person can adapt more quickly.

Recruiting employees is a two way street. It has to work for you and it has to work for them. When hiring experienced people I like to clearly explain not only what the job entails but what our business culture is, the character and attitudes we display, and take them through a typical day.

It’s also a good idea to let them interview with one of your employees in addition to yourself. They can find out whether this job will fit them by spending time with a current employee and learning about your culture. They’ll often ask them questions they would never ask you. You don’t want to hire someone who won’t fit it. It wastes your time and theirs.

Look twice!

You’ve probably heard the old carpenter’s adage: measure twice, cut once. Try this in recruiting employees: interview twice, hire once!

I highly recommend that during the hiring process you always give a second interview to any candidate worth considering. Interviews make people nervous and while one person might perform exceptionally well during the first interview another may not and that second interview might yield entirely different results.

A second interview often helps an employee relax and helps you see who they really are. Compare results and answers from both interviews to help you determine the best candidate for each position.

I usually prefer to have another employee be part of the first interview as part of an initial screening process. When the qualified candidate comes back for the second interview they usually feel more comfortable and have often thought of other questions. Answering those questions will benefit both of you and yield a better hiring decision.

Remember though, no matter how good of a job you do interviewing, you won’t really know how it works out until the person is on the job working with you.

I remember an employee we hired years ago. Three different people interviewed the candidate and she seemed like an outstanding choice. Her first day on the job shocked us all. It was like we must have interviewed her twin sister because the person who showed up for work was nothing like the one we interviewed!

The lesson: some people interview well and some don’t. Trying to talk to prior employers of the candidate is a great way to gain insights and to avoid unpleasant surprises. Take the time and do it right.

Pay for Quality.

One rule that holds true when seeking quality employees is that you get what you pay for. While extravagant salaries are a bad idea for any business, you must also realize that you cannot get a well qualified candidate for minimum wage. As an employer you have an obligation to compensate your employees fairly so they can take care of their families too.

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. A great employee is invaluable to the success of your business. Time and time again I have seen businesses fail because owners hired the cheapest rather than the most qualified employee. How many times have you been poorly treated at a business by someone’s employee and vowed never to return?

Having a reputation as one with high character and a fair compensation program will attract more qualified applicants giving you a pool of well qualified potential employees from which to make your decision.

Final thoughts …

I have seen many businesses succeed and fail based on employee performance. It’s always possible to make a bad hiring decision despite the best research and intentions. Thorough interviews and reference checks help you in recruiting employees that will succeed.

Your employees are one of the most important parts of your business. Recruiting employees will take a fair amount of research, time and effort. Building them into the very best team takes an intentional effort on your part.

Help your employees to take ownership in their jobs and your business. They need to understand the goals you have for the business and your value proposition so they can partner with you in the success of the business. Build employee motivation. Click here for an article on how to motivate employees.

You will need to teach them how to succeed and monitor their progress. Click here for an article on how to do employee performance reviews.

If you understand that your job is to make them successful and be a servant leader, their success will translate into your success. Regular feedback monitors not only their accomplishments and growth, but also yours!