In This Episode

Making the decision to hire someone can be very stressful on a small business owner.  What if we pick the wrong person?  Can we truly afford to add someone else to the payroll?  What will we do if we don’t hire someone?  How soon will we know we hired the right person?  These and many other questions roll through the heads of business owners looking to make hiring decisions.

This is especially true when it comes to those “key” hires.  You know, the folks who become your right-hand person.  The ones you feel like you can’t live without.  These key hires also tend to be the most “expensive” as many of our small business clients will point out.  Not so fast.

So one of the things we’ve learned over the years is to break down a new hire into 30, 60, or 90 day buckets.  When it comes to someone being “expensive” we will talk to the business owner about looking at hiring this person for 90 days vs. the entire year.  That way you’re only making a decision based on 1/4 of that person’s compensation instead of the full year (e.g. a $25K decision vs. $100K decision for someone with a $100K annually salary).  Why?  Because you’ll know for sure by the end of 90 days if this person is the right one or not.

Here are some things we’ve learned over the years about bringing on new employees:

  • Faking It: most adults can fake it for a bit.  Kind of like going on a first date. Chances are you aren’t going to share your innermost thoughts on that first date or two.  But after a few dates things start to loosen up a bit and either you become more or less attracted to the other person.  We have found that most people will show their true selves from a work standpoint in the first 30 days on the job.  Think about it.  Either they’re able to do all the things they talked about during the interview process or maybe just some of them or perhaps even more.  Some folks are better at faking things longer so you might not know for 60 days, but certainly by day 90 you should know if the person is a keeper or not for your organization.
  • Team: one of the most difficult things to do as a small business owner is to get good information from your team on what’s really going on.  Most people don’t want to be the bearer of bad news to the boss so you might have to do a little digging and prodding to get your team to talk.  One reason your team is so important is that many of the things you’re looking for to decide if someone is the right fit or not has to do with more intangible things.  There’s a lot of feel involved.  So if your team isn’t feeling good about this new person for some reason, you’ll want to dig into this a bit.
  • 1-on-1 Time: during those first 90 days you’re going to want to spend some 1-on-1 time with this new hire.  Find ways for the two of you to be together.  You want to see this person in action for yourself.  How do they deal with the staff, customers, vendors, a waitress, etc.  Be ultra sensitive to how this person acts.  You’re looking for any kind of red, pink, or yellow flags that give you a pause for concern.  You’re also looking to reinforce that you’ve brought on the right person by asking them some questions about their opinions on the business, your people and customers, etc.  The 1-on-1 time gives you the chance to get inside their heads and see how they think a bit.

Like anything in life, there are no guarantees.  But if you take some of the approaches we’ve outlined above you’ll be sure to have more luck knowing when you’ve got the right person on board.

People, Companies and Resources We Mentioned in the Show