Topgrading – Changed my Hiring Practices

Honest moment. Hiring and training, dealing with people’s “issues”, was one of the most frustrating parts of owning my own business. My expectation is that everyone’s reliable, comes to work on time with the right attitude, is a team player, leaves the drama at home, does their research about the industry we’re in (and they want to be employed in), knows how to interact pleasantly and serve others, and actually does what they say they’re going to do (like work through the busy season).

Hiring and Training Your Team

Some of My Favorite Doozies:

  • I placed an employment ad and when one applicant came in said, “geez! This is beautiful!! I’ve never even been out here” (they lived less than 15 minutes away). BTW don’t say this to your potential employer, it show you’ve put ZERO effort into your pre-interview which shows you don’t prepare, aren’t a learner, and want to ‘put in your time’ without thinking.
  • Applicant was late to their interview because, “I have never actually driven out here, and didn’t know how long it would take”. Google it dude. Early is on time. On Time is late. Late is rude.

  • After listing specific physical requirements in the ad, reiterating those requirements in the interview, interviewing, then giving a physical tour of the hotel and job requirements, the interviewee called me the next day and said, “I don’t think my knees can handle all that up and down. I thought it was more of just being behind the desk.”
  • An applicant arrived for an interview for a front desk position and brought her children, had them sit in the lobby while we interviewed.
  • An applicant arrived for an interview for a front desk position dressed in shorts, and a wrinkled shirt, dirty shoes, looking literally like he just came in from hiking (which was the case).
  • My personal favorite: Sat in an interview with an excellent candidate for management. Along with the written ad, I specifically reiterated the need for this seasonal position to run through October, guaranteeing this particular applicant employment until her next contract came up. It was seemingly a win win. Great candidate, we fit her needs for work in between her contracts, she fit our needs for seasonal help. When I reiterated the importance of staying through the season because of the investment in training, the need, guest load, staffing, etc. she stood up across from me, looked me in the eye, held out her hand to shake mine and said, “I give you my word, I’m committed through October.” Not TWO WEEKS later she quit WITHOUT NOTICE (she had gotten another job), and recommended her daughter for another position at the hotel. Are you kidding me?! This one took the cake.

If you can relate to these types of headaches, read on. There’s hope!

 This book: Topgrading, by Bradford Smart, changed my thinking about hiring. Looking back, it seems pretty logical and I feel a bit of a dork for even admitting in this blog, but whatever. That’s why I write, teach, coach, and learn! We are where we are. Let’s just keep moving forward.

Here was my M.O.

I place an ad and will be needing that person anywhere from immediately (because a dingledoffer like above left me – and the rest of the staff – shorthanded), to a month out. Why is this a problem you ask? I wondered too! This is where the book smacked me up side the head.

I want quality people. I’m sure you do too!

Self Starter, Team Player, Takes Initiative, Hospitable, Hard Worker, Loyal, Dependable, Reliable, Learner, etc. etc.

I wanted those people in two weeks. What happened was this: Sometimes, yes, sometimes I got super lucky! My staff was phenomenal. (It did take training, practice, support, correction, and teaching.) Sometimes I got flaky dingledoffer. That stress can be avoided.

Am I available in two weeks for a new job? Well no. I’m not. That’s a bit absurd. You’re probably not available either. The vast majority of people we want to attract that are reliable, dependable, etc. etc. are already working for someone! Possibly they’re not earning what they should be, or their boss is a bit of a jerk. Lucky for you, because you’re an awesome boss!

These people are not going to jump ship in two weeks. We wouldn’t want them to. I greatly respect new hires that want to give their employer more than two weeks. The more responsibility the employee has, the longer notice they should give. After all, you would want an important, valuable, team player to give you more than two weeks, right? Of course you would!!

One of the two big shifts that happened for me when reading this book is this:

Look for quality people all the time. Devote time and schedule time to search for them. The book, Topgrading,  is talking about larger corporations so the amount of time the author states to devote to this process was ludicrous to me. Owning a small business doesn’t require as much devoted time. However, the principal still applies, just scaled down.

Devote Time. (Schedule it)
All the Time.  (Weekly)
Continually Search. (Forever)
Look and Plan Ahead. (Way Ahead)

A simple switch in my thinking from reactive, to a long term, proactive mindset, helped me tremendously.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? Great people, the kind of people we want to hire, are usually already employed. We need to go fishing and play the long game to build a reliable, sustainable, secure team for our business.


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