Hiring Employees

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Does hiring employees act as the single biggest variable that distinguishes great companies from failures? You would think so, but you'd only be partially correct. Great businesses focus on hiring the "right" people that fit with their values, culture, and purpose. A great worker elsewhere may not transfer well into your environment. Conversely, someone who's failed miserably at her last job may be the perfect fit at your company. What must I look for when hiring employees? Forget the PhD from Harvard. Building a great business requires more than attracting a resume filled with academic pedigrees. It requires that you base people more on their character than on their knowledge. The latter can be learned; the former takes a lifetime to develop. How do I hire employees? As a basis, look for people who share your company's values. If you're a company that values customer service, hiring employees with a discouraging personality will raise a red flag. Once you're sure they fit with your values, use these three checkpoints that business guru Jim Collins says you must do -- and that we highly support: Did the person produce results at the company? (Y) Did that person take credit for it? (N) Did the results improve after their tenure? (Y) The right person must fit those four requirements. Make sure you do your homework about each person you bring onboard. Research their background, and get information through references. If you're uncertain about any of the four checkpoints, don't hire. Your ability to do this will pay off in the long run. Remember, the key to building a great business is to make good and consistent decisions. When to do it? Recruit before any decisions are made, organizational structures are prepared, and any ideas to be marketed. As Collins's six-year study illustrates, it's important that you get the right people on the bus first -- then figure out where to drive it. If you get further along the road, and need to switch directions, your people will be able to adapt because they rode the bus because of who else was on it -- not where it was going. If on the other hand, your people got on the bus because of your ideas, they'll leave if those ideas fail. It's important that you hire before anything happens. Take it from HP's David Packard: "No company can grow revenues consistently faster than its ability to get enough of the right people to implement that growth and still become a great company." That means, recruit prior to any increase in revenues, or any ideas to be implemented. You company won't sustain itself if your earnings outpaces the number of people at your business. You'll need people to execute each growth phase. And If I Can't Afford It? If hiring employees is impossible right now, get help through mentors or free government small business programs. The SBA provides free counseling in all states. You can also work with them online at http://www.sba.gov. Run your initial ideas by them, and then hone ideas when you get enough clarity on the situation. Don't get just any free help; each mentor or advisor must fit the four checkpoints above. Hiring employees will be your greatest investment. If you do it wrong, you'll receive headaches galore. If you do it right, we guarantee that you'll build a great business.

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Posted on February 18

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