July 27, 2023

Broken to Better: How to Hire the Right Way

When my business partner Kiira Belonzi and I first started hiring employees for Branded Group, we looked for experience matches. Did they work in facilities management? Something with easily transferable skills?

Soon, we realized that facilities management and those hard skills we searched for at first weren’t nearly as important. Those can be taught. What we really needed were soft skills. How did they handle stressful situations? Were they good problem solvers? Can they make tough decisions? The answers to those questions are far better predictors of success than any bullet points on a resume.

Hiring a team and stepping back to let them do their jobs is one of the most important things you’ll do as a leader. And hiring a diverse team full of creative individuals from a variety of backgrounds is the ultimate goal.

Here are some practical tips for building an inclusive team and creating an engaging and supportive company culture.

1. Start smart

Start by evaluating what skills and traits you want in your new hires. Do some self-reflection to identify what makes you successful, the areas you’re weak in, and your own personality. Use this information to decide what you want to see in a job candidate. Look for a combination of similar and complementary traits. Once you grow your business, use your most successful employees as templates for your next hire.

At Branded Group, we’ve defined the traits we want to see in our employees, and they’ve become our core values.

  1. Be humble: Approach every situation knowing there’s always more to learn.
  2. Be dedicated: Demonstrate loyalty to clients and colleagues.
  3. Be adaptable: Approach change with flexibility and open-mindedness.

2. Let your gut guide interviews

Once you know what you want in a job candidate, come up with interview questions to help you determine if a job candidate possesses those skills.

Here are some questions Kiira and I use in interviews to judge whether a candidate will succeed in our company culture:

  • Do you prefer working independently or in a team?
  • Do you prefer working at a large company or a small one?
  • What did you like or dislike about previous employment?
  • How did you feel about the company culture?

With Kiira’s help, we narrowed down our initially broad interview questions to help us identify character traits specific to the positions we’re hiring for. For example, solving our clients’ facility management challenges is what we do. Therefore, we ask specific questions about candidates’ experience in customer service.

Listen to the answers they give you, but also pay attention to their body language and your gut feeling. If they’re lighting up when they answer, that’s a good sign they’re not just reciting what they think you want to hear.

3. Refine your onboarding process

Once you have hired your ideal candidates, what does it take to make them successful? A solid onboarding process sets new employees on the right path, not only ensuring that they are trained but also that they feel welcomed and ready to work with the rest of the team.

At Branded Group, we do a few things to help improve our new hire’s onboarding experience. First, we always hire in twos and threes. We do this for a few reasons. For new hires, it helps them create connections with fellow employees. 

On the business side, it helps us save time training and ensures that if one leaves, we have another person ready to go. We won’t have to go through the hiring process again. 

If both people work out, then you are simply hiring ahead. That means that you’re hiring for where the business will be in a few months’ time. While it is an extra expense, it’s worth it in the long run.

We also offer new hires the Clifton Strengths Finder, an assessment to help them identify their strengths. This has been a game-changer for us. Occasionally, we hire the right people for the wrong role, and we’ve moved people around to match their strengths. One of our administrators moved into the IT department and is excelling there. Another time, we moved an underperforming salesperson into a head-of-department role. Now, he’s flourishing.

We never would have made these changes without refining our onboarding process, and now our business is better for it.

4. Train employees and treat them well

If I could change one thing about my early days at Branded Group, it would be to invest more in employee training earlier on. 

The more you invest in your people, the faster your business will grow. 

When you’re first starting your business, put a simple plan together to help train new employees and continue training employees throughout their career with your company. When you have the ability, hire a dedicated person to work on training and refine the process as your business grows.

Once employees are trained and performing, identify your rockstars and reward them for going above and beyond. Are they always asking for new projects? Offering support to those around them? That’s the sign of a leader in the making.

Reward hard work and loyalty by promoting from within your company as much as possible. Show employees they have a future within your business.

5. Learn to let go

After all this talk about hiring the right people and nurturing them in their new roles, it’s easy to think everything works out all the time, but that’s just not the case. Sometimes it doesn’t work out.

Firing someone is a scary thing, especially if you’ve never done it before. But if you’ve exhausted other options, or they’re simply causing damage to your team, it’s time to let go.

Be sure to follow employment laws in your state and conduct the meeting professionally. There can be lots of guilt surrounding it, but you have to believe that the person will find something that better matches their skills.

Alternatively, letting go when an employee decides to leave is also difficult. Most of the time, you’ve done nothing wrong. We don’t live in a world where people stay in jobs for 30+ years anymore. People leave for all kinds of reasons. The best thing you can do is offer letters of recommendation, thank them for their service to you, and wish them well.

My best advice? Hire the best people you can afford at every stage of business growth. Your first hires may be to lighten your load, but they’ll quickly fill roles you didn’t even know you needed. Eventually, you can spend more time growing your business than working in it.

Want help finding the right employees and building your hiring plan for the future? Check out my consulting page to get started.

This piece is based on a chapter of Broken to Better: 13 Ways Not to Fail at Life and Leadership. The book is dedicated to business leaders who are seeking to Be Better in their company for their employees, clients and communities. Download/purchase the full book, here.

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