“Staff”. That’s the most common answer I hear when I ask Business Changing clients what their biggest issue in business is. Finding good staff, keeping good staff, needing more staff, having too much time taken up by troublesome staff – the list goes on.
When you have good staff, with everyone on-board and pulling in the right direction, the opportunity for growth is exponential. But the alternative? It’s not pretty. Disgruntled, unmotivated, toxic staff can slow you all down and the impact they have on your wider team is even more detrimental.
So how can you make sure that you’re hiring someone who’s a good fit for your team and business? Ensure they’re a culture fit. How do you do that? I asked Business Changing client and super-experienced recruitment specialist Mark Fisher from Eighty4 Recruitment to share his expert advice:
“Bloody good question and such an important factor. Too many business managers and owners hire desperately, wanting someone immediately, so they often miss the warning signs that they’re not the right fit. They read the CV, take it at face value, and don’t take the time to get to know the person, which is what can cause issues later,” Mark says.
“Remember: while you want someone who’s incredible at their job, it’s more important to balance that out with someone who has a good attitude and work ethic. That way, you’ll end up with a happier, more productive team at the end of the day.”
These are Mark’s tips for what to include in your recruiting process to ensure you’re hiring for culture fit:
- Have pre-set questions that you ask very early on, either on the phone or face-to-face. You want them to answer these before you chat too much about your company or the role because you want them to answer them BEFORE they have the opportunity to understand what you want and regurgitate that back to you. You’re trying to get to the core values and behaviours of how they generally act, without them matching your words around values to say what you want to hear.
- This is a great question – “How would you friends describe you? Why?”
- Don’t ask them, “What are your weaknesses” or you’ll get bullshit run-of-the-mill answers. Ask them, “What areas of yourself need improvement?” It’s a more positive way of framing it and gets better responses and insight.
- Ask questions that lead to real-life examples. The theory of how someone might react tells you nothing – ask about experiences and then consider their answers carefully. How might their reaction affect your business if a similar situation occurred?
- Role plays are very useful. Use real life examples of your day-to-day work – not just acting out a situation but putting them to the test on something they’d be expected to do at your business. Ask an engineer to look at plans. Get a salesperson on the phone to do five cold calls. Ask a marketer for feedback on your website and for analysis of your social media content. How do they react? Not only does this test their character and values, it also shows the person what they might expect when working at your business – if they don’t like it, it’s best they learn that at this stage.
- References are key – ideally from the people they don’t give you… Finding someone who knows them to do a background check can be tricky, but NZ is a small place, so do your research! Assume any negative/”constructive” feedback you hear is actually up to 5x worse than what the referee says – people tend to try make it sound a bit fluffy and be gentle. Read between the lines for the warning signs.
- Don’t rush the process. You need to meet them more than once to start to unpeel their layers. Meet them at your office and meet them for a more casual coffee. Phone them and see how they react off the cuff. (If they ignore your calls, it could be a sign that they’re not the proactive sales manager you want…) Get your team to meet them, too – you need opinions from multiple people from different divisions across your business. Observe all interactions and listen to every step – are they comfortable in your environment? Nervousness can be ok, but are they too shy or too outgoing?
- Be your authentic self at each meeting and explain limitations within your business, including business challenges and personality types. Be real, don’t fluff it. This is a good time to allow candidates to self qualify. Let them decide if they want to work with a task master. Let them decide if they want to work with introverts. If they want to work long hours, great. But you need to be real, warts and all – don’t worry about selling the dream. They’ll find things to like about you and your business, if you’re real about it.
- ALWAYS trust your gut. Always! It’s never wrong.
- This is possibly the most important thing to keep in mind: hire people based on what you WANT your culture to be – don’t hire people you think can tip-toe around the difficult people in your office currently. This strategy will weed out the bad eggs – eventually good will prevail! In fact, if this is a consideration for you, it’s probably time you looked at addressing that difficult person…