If there is one aspect of management that I would like to delegate, it would be hiring new employees. While I say I would like to delegate that responsibility we all know that is not possible since it is one of the most important duties a manager or business owner performs.
Your local library or bookstore contains hundreds and hundreds of books that will help you navigate the hiring process so I won’t go into those issues here. You can get plenty of great advice online as well.
There is one secret to hiring great people though that you must know and there is also one steadfast rule to follow if you want your new hire – and every other employee who works for you – to be happy and successful.
Assuming you get to the point where you have a strong candidate or two to consider, the question becomes “what separates a bad employee from a good employee?” If you have hired more than a handful of people you have surely made a mistake and had to subsequently let a new hire go.
When that happens you begin to question everything about your hiring process – the job description, where the employment ad was placed, maybe even your own interview questions and techniques. While that kind of review is always healthy and can help you fine-tune your hiring process, there is usually one thing that you did not uncover in the hiring process.
What is that one thing? The CHARACTER of the person you hired. You probably had clues, signs, maybe even a “gut feeling”, but you ignored them because of the candidate’s strong resume or great interview skills.
What is the “secret” question you should ask before you make a final hiring decision?
Is this someone I would invite to my house for dinner?
If you are thinking, “Are you kidding?” then relax, you are in good company. Almost every single time I share this “secret” with hiring managers or business owners they have that same reaction.
Usually, be it a couple of hours, a couple of days or a couple of weeks later, I hear back from them. By then they have dug into their memory banks and have recalled the employees who did not work out; the ones with all of the right qualifications, experience and education who just did not get the job done. They remember the little clues during the interview process – talking badly about a prior employer or co-worker, not having the right “opportunities” at their current or former company even though you knew that company was a growing organization and other little comments that now stand out like a spotlight shining on their character.
Character is the key. How many people of low-character have you willingly invited into your home (relatives and bosses do not count!)? Hopefully your answer is none, at least not twice. I think we all have this mechanism within us that tells us when someone is not of strong character. We just tend to minimize those thoughts when we have a great candidate in front of us – and we always pay a price later on.
Don’t over look character as a “deal-breaker” when it comes to hiring employees; if you would not invite a candidate into your home, don’t invite them into your business!
Remember too, it is hard to help people grow and develop if you do not like them and trust them.
In the long run you will not succeed with employees lacking character if for no other reason than you will not want to spend time with them helping them grow and develop.
Okay, now that you know the “secret” you need to know the “rule”. This one is even easier to understand, but much harder to put into practice:
Hire good people, train them well then let them do their jobs
As I have consulted with businesses I have been amazed at how many managers and business owners make their employees ineffective by over-managing. I support 100% the concept of “inspect what you expect”, however that is different than micro-managing.
Imagine you are on a high-wire suspended 5 stories in the air. Would you tend to be more careful if you have no safety net or harness or if you did have a safety net or harness? The answer for most everyone is you would tend to be more careful, much more careful, if you did not have the safety net or harness to catch you if you somehow fell.
That analogy can apply to your employees as well. Do you think they will be more careful if they understand the responsibility lies with them or if they know you will always be there to stop them from making mistakes?
I’m not advocating that you let employees make mistakes that cost you money, but you must allow them to make mistakes and find teachable moments in order for them to grow and develop, which, in turn, will help your business grow.
This may seem like a simple concept but it is very often overlooked by managers and business owners who themselves make mistakes in their jobs and definitely would not appreciate someone constantly over their shoulder waiting to swoop in to take over.
Nothing will kill an employee’s desire to grow and morale faster than over-managing. You might as well just work longer hours and do their job yourself – or expect to spend a lot of time interviewing to replace exiting candidates.
In sum, while most businesses have formal hiring practices and some have formal training programs they generally rely too much on the hiring practices – and fail to investigate character – and rely too little on their training programs – by over-managing their employees. Of course that makes sense in a way; if you question the character of your employees, then you better keep a very close eye on them!