Everyone in business understands that to have a successful company, each person in the organization has to “produce”. (Of course the results will vary depending on their job.) So therefore, we establish performance expectations to determine exactly what our employees are supposed to produce. We develop elaborate performance metrics to measure how well they’re producing. Then we use performance evaluations to let our staff know how well they’re doing in their jobs and to help them grow as professionals. And sometimes we use performance bonuses as “carrots” to encourage our people to produce more.
All of these “performance tools” are important. And yet even with having all these tools at our disposal, we usually overlook one critical measure of just how well our people are performing. In addition to “all of the above” resources maybe we should be hiring people based on what we believe they can get out of us. Maybe we need to make our hiring decisions based on the lessons we, as owners, can learn about becoming better managers and business leaders. Confused? Let me explain …
Since frequently the first person most of us hire in our companies is a service technician, let’s start this discussion with these hard working folks. Sometimes almost “accidentally” we do a really good job of hiring a given frontline employee. You might hire someone who charms your customers with their exceptional customer service skills, or who has an inquisitive mind that continually looks for ways to improve your quality and efficiency. Wonderful!
But, far too often, we “default” in to hiring people because they won’t challenge us to be better business owners. These marginal employees let us get away with not documenting instructions, or with blaming other people when things go south because of something we’ve screwed up. Sometimes we hire subpar people because, deep down inside, we’re afraid hiring the right person would spotlight too many of our shortcomings. Other times we hire poor performers because we don’t want people who will spotlight inadequacies in our equipment, our pricing, or our compensation. And sometimes we hire subpar people because subconsciously we’re afraid any and all employees will inevitably leave us and start their own companies, so we tell ourselves we “don’t want to be training our competition!”
Yet if you are ever going to truly escape “the tyranny of having to do everything yourself”, you will have to hire people who are strong enough to hold you accountable. In other words, you need an employee that will force you to do the things you say you are going to do. Here are a few questions to consider when evaluating candidates for frontline positions:
- Will this candidate be punctual? And will he or she hold me accountable to be on time, as well?
- Will he follow through on projects I assign him? And will he hold me accountable to follow through on promises I make to him?
- Will he be strong enough to question me about the condition of my service vehicles and equipment?
- Will he hold me accountable to complete my paperwork when I insist he complete his?
Hiring frontline workers strictly on the basis of how much they can produce, or how much burden they’ll take off your shoulders leaves the one question unanswered we should be asking ourselves: How will hiring this person make me a better business owner?