Small Employer Hiring

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, and on average employ 1 to 10 employees. Many of these business owners have previously worked in corporations, and falsely believe they don’t need a systematic way of hiring due to their smaller size. While they may be right about not needing a formal hiring policy like a larger company, cutting corners and using subjective tools and practices will not protect them from litigation. The sad fact is that a small employer is more likely to make a hiring mistake for multiple reasons, mostly due to lack of experience in hiring. They are under the mistaken belief they can coach and motivate anyone for success. Their lack of awareness simply creates sleepless nights and unnecessary expense of hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars!

The biggest challenge? One bad hire can literally force a small enterprise to close its doors due to theft of money, data and proprietary information. Or, they incorrectly reason it won’t cost them anything to hire a straight commission salesperson, if that person is unable to sell. They don’t calculate the cost to their reputation nor the excessive marketing costs with no positive ROI. One small business owner suffered through theft of proprietary information. It cost him dearly. Instead of seeking better ways to hire people, he simply recreated the mistake by solely relying upon his gut.

Gather objective information. The more objective information you can gather up-front, the less likely you are to interview and select the wrong person. Most interviewers make their decision within the first five minutes of an interview, but spend the next thirty or sixty minutes asking questions that make no difference in changing their minds. Instead, use a structured interview format focused on experience, education and job skills. Have candidates take a skills test to determine true proficiency. Often overlooked is asking about any special requirements. Never assume they read the job posting simply because they applied for the job (e.g., if travel is involved, ask if they are available to travel and how often).

Qualified assessments. Many small employers need to broaden their perspective of what is a qualified assessment. If you’re relying upon non-qualified assessment results, its pay now or pay later in loss of clients or the employee’s unwillingness to do the required activities. Insist upon reviewing the Technical Manual for any assessment you wish to use; do not rely upon a letter from the vendor telling you it meets all federal, state and local laws. Select qualified tools in accordance with the Department of Labor Testing and Assessment 2007 guidelines (for a copy contact: If you have developed one on your own, spend the millions of dollars required to ensure the validity and reliability coefficients comply with EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity), DOL (Department of Labor) and various other requirements.

Training. Since most small business owners don’t hire often, they may overlook current employment laws. Set up a written strategic hiring process and have it reviewed by legal counsel. Review it each time you hire. Take time to learn best interview practices, how to correctly use assessments and skill testing and when to conduct background checks and drug screens (states laws vary). The basic rule of thumb is stay focused on the job responsibilities along with the applicant’s ability to successfully achieve intended results.

All jobs are important! One business owner didn’t feel the receptionist position was an important job in his company. He didn’t understand it’s the client’s first impression, and often a long-lasting one! He spent 5 minutes talking with each candidate and then selected the first one he liked. He went through three employees within a month. He not only lost several clients, one top employee left in protest of his hiring practices.

Hiring Amazing Employees, 2nd Edition, is coming soon! I’ll share more information during this upcoming month.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2012  All Rights Reserved

Employer Beware!

The economy is slowing improving. Companies are hiring again. The current challenge is finding qualified workers to hire. If we recruit those we perceive to be top performers from our vendors, suppliers or competitors, we must beware of believing they will be natural fits for our organization. Too often, it does not work out that way! 

The biggest reason? A top performer in one company does not naturally become a top performer elsewhere. When we focus on attracting them to work for us, often we will fail to follow our own strategic hiring system. And when we recruit them to resolve an issue within our company today, we are disregarding the future impact on continued relationships with our suppliers/vendors (e.g., trust between the two businesses, willingness to provide preferred price concessions, etc.). Making these exceptions to our hiring practices, just because we know/respect them or their previous employer only adds error on top of error.

Hiring from your vendors and suppliers. You may not contractually be able to hire these subcontractors or employees, depending upon the Non-Compete laws in your state. Or, if they have handled the transition with their current employer poorly, there may be cause for litigation. Having a conversation with your vendor/supplier is advisable to reduce disruption to your business and theirs. Conduct due diligence, just as you would with any other potential hire (e.g. reference checks, employment verifications, background checks, etc.). Remember, if you fail to follow your own hiring policy, or worse, do not use one, you may be hiring someone else’s problem.

Change in Working Dynamics. Just because the person worked well as a consultant, temp, or account executive doesn’t mean s/he will complete the job with the same commitment now that s/he is your employee. Unfortunately, the dynamic of the relationship has changed. Before you were the client; now you are the boss. As a boss, you may treat outside people differently than you treat your own employees. Also, the newly hired person may have a negative attitude towards authority that was controlled since you were not his/her boss. A similar dynamic may become evident with co-workers. The newly hired person may have disliked or not respected those who have now become his/her new co-workers. These concerns can no longer be ignored for the sake of completing a project since this person is now part of your workforce.

Hiring from your competitors. They may look good on paper. However, do they possess the thinking style, core behaviors and occupational interests that fit into your culture? The grass is greener syndrome can negatively impact those employees jumping ship simply looking for more money, different job duties, etc. Again! Follow a strategic and sustainable hiring system regardless of who the job candidate is or how well you may know her/him. Job fit is essential! You will always do better with more objective data than without it (e.g., use of core value assessments, job fit technology and skills testing).

©Jeannette Seibly, 2011

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