The most important thing when hiring someone in a small business or as an entrepreneur is to make sure they fit in well with the team.
I said that yesterday.
It’s more important than anything else. Remember, there are no guarantees when hiring someone. You could do 10 interviews, 6 background checks, tail the person with a private detective and sift through their garbage; you still might hire the wrong person.
But, a lot of things can be corrected or improved. Fitting in with the team and company isn’t usually one of them.
Skills can be taught. Goals can be set. Communication can be encouraged.
Fitting in with a small group of people is another story.
Here are some ways to help ensure someone will fit in:
- Make sure they understand HOW your business works. Day-to-day, how do things operate? Is it ultra-fast paced? Is there a very specific routine? What’s the style of the work environment? Easygoing? Intense?
- Make sure they understand the culture. As soon as your business has more than 1 person there’s a culture. There’s a dynamic that the prospective employee needs to understand. I don’t believe people need to be best friends to work well together. I don’t believe they have to go out together after work and have a drink. They can, and I’m not opposed to that, but that’s not what’s important. The culture inside the office is key.Culture also implies the type of person and their life stage. It’s hard to hire a 20 year old into a company of 60 year olds (or vice versa.) In a small business, many if not all of the employees will be at similar stages in their life – personally and career-wise. The more points of commonality that exist in this way, the more cohesive the team will likely become.
- Make sure they understand how YOU work. You’re the boss. In a small business almost everything that happens is because of you. Not because you’re a control freak (well, you might be!), but because it’s your business. You built it from the ground-up, and every employee recognizes:business = you | you = business
How you work, your personal style is critical to prospective employees. They have to understand it and jive with it, because your personal style will in many ways become the style and culture of the company as it grows.
- Make sure they understand the PURPOSE of the company. I’ve never been a “ra ra cheerleader” type, but the more a prospective employee understands the vision behind the company, its goals and your personal aspirations (as the leader), the better off that person will be.
- Have another employee chat with them. This isn’t an interview, but it might be worthwhile to ask an employee to take the prospect out for lunch. Let the prospective employee get an “inside view” of the company. And the employee will probably learn some things that you didn’t find out.
- When doing an interview, don’t focus solely on skills. I’m not recommending you do MRIs on people to see if they’re lying, and I’m not a huge fan of personality tests, but an interview shouldn’t just be about skills. It shouldn’t just be about a person’s successes and failures either. It should be about the person (who is always greater than the sum of resume parts.)
Hiring people isn’t a perfect science. I’m not even certain how much is science and how much is art, but I do know that small businesses must focus on team building and team culture or the new employee won’t last long.
* 10 Career-Ruining Habits[tags]hiring, team building, corporate culture, recruiting, human resources, small business[/tags]