Hire Good Employees

I remember complaining to a business consultant friend a few years ago about my inability to find good employees. It seemed that everyone I hired was either lazy or flaky. My friend then proceeded to give me some information that completely changed the way I looked at employees.

“Jay,” he said, ”if you have ten new hires, one, maybe two will be instant fits. They will get it, and you won’t have to do much with them but tell them what to do. Another one or two will be trainable, and with some effort and time you will be able to make them fit like the first group.”

He then looked at me seriously and said “The remaining six or seven will never amount to much, and you should fire them as soon as you can.”

If you’ve ever fired someone, you know it takes a lot of emotional energy to do so. You also need to make sure you fire someone legally to protect yourself and your business. So here are three tips to hiring people that increase your chances of getting good people the first time around.

  1. Hire people for a trial period. When you do this, it is important that you spell out what the length of the trial period and what you are expecting from it from the very beginning. Things like “no absences” and “increasing sales by 10%” are good ways to measure an employee’s effectiveness. Give many informal assessments, and at least three formal assessment meetings where you inform your employee of his/her progress in written form, and have the employee sign it.

  2. Follow up on references with a phone call. In many situations written references are not a good way to detect a bad employee because former employers don’t want to speak poorly of someone they fired (and have it in writing), but asking questions in a phone call to a former supervisor is a good way to get more information. Even if a former employer is evasive, that tells you a lot about the potential employee because, let’s face it, for most of us it’s easier to praise people than critique them.

  3. Get referrals. Hire people your good employees recommend, or that respectable people in the community refer to you. This gives you double protection—if the employee does not perform well, the one that referred them is shamed. People won’t recommend people who they are not confident will do a good job, and the recommended people will not want to let the person down who recommended them.

There you have it—a trial period, phone calls to references, and referrals. These are just three ways you can find that “one in a million” employee!