In this month’s article, we’re going to continue our focus on people – your most important asset. If you recall from previous month’s articles, we are going to be discussing the elements of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). The six major categories of discussion include:
1. Develop your Human Capital Infrastructure
2. Hire the right people and put them in the right seats on the bus
3. Lead them in a way that you don’t DE-motivate them.
Last month we discussed #1 below: Developing your human capital infrastructure. This month we’re going to tackle #2 again, but with a different element: Hiring the right people and put them on the right seats on the bus. Next month, we’ll discuss the SCIENCE behind human motivation, what author Daniel Pink calls, “Motivation 2.0.”
So, now to hiring the right people…thinking…thinking more…this is THE toughest thing to do as a leader. I live the hiring challenge just like many of you do. How do we really know if these candidates are going to perform? The truth is, we don’t. All we can do is improve our odds, so here’s what we do and here’s what we plan on doing in the near future.
Step 1: Recruiting: For us, it starts with Craigslist. We used to use a variety of higher priced channels, including recruiters but at the end of the day, Craigslist has been working out really well. We also have ads placed for many of our positions continuously. Why? Having a pipeline of resumes to choose from and reach out to in the unexpected event of someone leaving suddenly, can save your practice. Further, have you ever been in a situation where an employee was not a good fit, but you hesitate to post an ad because you’re worried they may be looking to see if you’re posting an ad? Having a company policy of “Talent Management Pipeline” let’s your folks know that you’re always looking to ensure they are being supported with the best team members. When unforeseen events happen, you will be much more prepared.
Step 2: First response: For each position in our company, we have designed 8-10 questions that screen out the candidates. Questions range from experience to values to available hours to pay expectations. Once we see a resume that we like, we email out the questionnaire, evaluate responses and then set them up for a group interview.
Step 3: Group interview: We LOVE group interviews. First and foremost, it’s very efficient. Second, it allows you to see how people interact with each other in a very stressful situation. One time, a woman who appeared to have all the right skills and qualities, bashed another candidate mid-way through the interview process. I knew we didn’t want anyone like her on the team, so I politely excused her from the rest of the interview. You get to see true behavior and character come out in these situations, especially if you can create a professional but relaxed environment. Further, in the interview process, we ask behavioral/situational questions like, “Tell us a time when you demonstrated great sacrifice to get an important job or task done.” There are many questions like the above, so you have to design questions that tie to what your values and goals are for your practice. I also list each candidate on a spreadsheet and score them for every question. At the end, the candidates with the highest of the scores have a chance to move on to the next round (see below). My favorite question is my last question and now it can be yours too…it is… “Who in this room would you hire and why?” The candidates now have to make a decision – do they say themselves? Do they say another candidate who may be more qualified than they are? It creates an amazingly interesting dynamic. When you have a lot of agreement in the room of the best candidate chosen by the candidates, that’s a pretty good indicator that there’s good potential for the one everyone likes the best. Sometimes they are the right one, and sometimes they’re not, so to improve your odds, take the highest scoring and most chosen (by their peers) candidates through the next step below. Lastly, I always like to give a brief history of the company and discuss the culture. We are very clear about who we are, what we expect and what we give in return. There’s no use telling a candidate your practice or your team is one way, when it’s just not that way. Honesty is appreciated by you and it is appreciated by the interviewee. There have been more times than I’d like to admit where I had said to a candidate, “Our A/R is a train wreck. Here’s what it looks like. What would you do first?” This lets them know what they’re getting into. Those who are up for the challenge are exactly the people I want on that seat in the bus!
Step 4: Working Interview: Once we have a few candidates we like, we ask them to come back for a working interview. Here they sit with our best people and/or their potential future teammates and we get a qualitative assessment of them – their skills, their character, their habits. I will be the first to tell you that this is an area that we want to improve on in our company. There have been candidates that pass Steps 1-4 with flying colors, but then in the job, they’re not the same. So, we’re working on improving our next step in the process which is…
Step 5: Testing: We do two types of testing – (1) Job specific tests where we ask very pointed questions that directly tie to their job role; and (2) behavior type testing that tie to who the candidates are as people. There are some really interesting behavior tests out there from a variety of companies, but three that peak my attention are
a. 5Dynamics (www.5dynamics.com): This testing methodology determines an individual’s energy and how they prefer to work in four major areas: (1) Explore, (2) Exam, (3) Examine and (4) Execute. When I took my test, I was absolutely amazed how accurately it represented me.
b. The MPO Personality Assessment from Excelsior (www.excelsiorp3.com): This test identifies seven behavior variables and their interactions and produces a report that allows leaders and their teams to function with greater capabilities.
c. The Enneagram (www.enneagraminstitute.com): This test categorizes 9 different personality types and puts the individual into a basic personality type through the answering of the enneagram questions.
We know that there are many more tests out there. Find one that works for you and your practice and the likelihood that the candidates actually deliver on their interview promises will surely increase.
Some final thoughts: Getting your team involved in the interview process can be really helpful. They’re working with the new hire, so they should have a say in the process. You may not always agree with them, but if you’re clear why you made your decision, they should understand if you went with someone that was not their first choice. Keep in mind though, that mediocre employees will derail you from hiring people they perceive as better than them. Listen to your gut, follow the comprehensive steps above, and build your dream team. Once the hire has been completed, put the new employee through the steps from the last month’s article.
1. Review their employee handbook with them
2. Review their job description with them and have them sign it
3. Review their job competencies with them
4. Outline the training process, and the expected result of their completed training
5. Perform your 90 day review with them.
Hiring great people is one of the most difficult tasks we have as leaders. After almost 20 years for us it is still a work in progress. While I’ve shared my process with you, I’d love to hear more about what’s worked for you in your practice. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and in next month’s article, I will share your story with the rest of the profession so they can learn even more from your successes. I look forward to hearing from you!