The Art of Hiring
Hiring a new staff member is truly like creating a work of art. We all know there is no perfect way to create art. If you ask 20 artists how they paint the same picture each of them will have a different method. Hiring staff is no different. Ask 20 business owners how they hire and onboard new staff members, and you will get a wide variety of methods and opinions. Ask Google for the best way to hire a new employee and you will get 492,000,000 articles to help you understand. There is no shortage of information and yet it is a difficult process to perfect. The artist never stops changing and perfecting his or her skills. The outcome of the masterpiece may change as the artist improves, and that also seems to be the only way to improve your art of hiring. Consider the word ACTION and how it can be used to break down the basic phases of the hiring process.
A – Act on Hiring
When to act? A business owner may wait to hire until things are desperate and feel the pressure to act. Stress levels and workloads may already be high, and then comes the final straw with a key player walking out the door. Hiring when you or your organization is stressed is always the wrong time. The total opposite of this situation may occur when the perfect candidate reaches out for a job. In this case, hiring someone without a plan even if he or she is the perfect fit may result in even more chaos.
The better way seems to be continually evaluating the pulse of the workforce. Stay in touch with the feelings of the staff and learn to recognize the signs of an overwhelmed team. Do not overlook the overwhelm you may be experiencing as the owner. It is easy to allow yourself to take on more and more of the workload until you realize that you are completely worn down. Once you recognize the signs, evaluate workflows and the role of each staff member and you may find ways to temporarily relieve some of the tension.
This is the time to start prospecting for a new hire. Practicing the hiring process before you bring on someone new and growing your business to meet the appropriate number of staff members is the opposite of waiting until the business grows too large to manage with current staff. It is always best to take your time during the hiring process, and if cash flow allows your organization to bring on a new staff member, take the steps to do so before the anxiety of your current staffing situation reaches a peak.
C – Create Enthusiasm
As the owner, you may have made the decision that it is the right time to hire, but what about your current team members? Do they have the same mindset that it is time to hire? Transparency around a new hire may inspire your team to help you make critical changes in workflows and rearranging workloads to avoid hiring immediately. Bringing in a new team member means new training needs that many times create more workload on team members involved in the training. You may even have team members that seem threatened by a new person coming on board.
Think carefully about bringing a new member to the table without building enthusiasm with the existing team. Compare it to a discussion at the dinner table where you have brought a new person to live in your home, not having discussed it in advance, and that new person is already sitting at the table. Surprise can be fun and positive, but this is one surprise that will always be met with challenges. Before making the announcement, have a carefully prepared plan that includes visuals, growth projects and many details. Plan to focus on the positive of bringing in a new person and how this will benefit everyone on the team.
T – Take Off
Do you believe that a rocket ship takes off without a lot of preparation? That would be foolish. There are financial consequences if the launch fails resulting, in damage to a very expensive craft as well as serious risks to the lives of the astronauts. Hiring a new member for your team is also an expensive challenge, and if things go wrong, while not physically harming your team, it sure can take a hit on the morale. No business owner will ever say he or she over-planned when bringing on a new employee.
This is where the art comes in. Every time you hire you will learn something new. Start today by creating your personalized onboarding manual complete with checklists. Start now to create well crafted job descriptions, so you will know exactly what you are hiring for and aim to get positive results. All systems need to be on “go” well in advance of the launch. This includes everything from required legal documents, office and technology set-up, passwords and connections checked in advance to training modules and social media recognition. The goal is to make certain the new hire is ready to go from day one. Do you have a team logo shirt in the new person’s size along with their personalized YETI cup waiting at the desk? Who wants to come to work for a firm that has no plan for exactly what the new hire will do on day one all the way up to day 365 at a minimum?
O – Onboarding Complete
Onboarding is complete, and dates are set for a 30-, 60- and 90-day review. Not just one but multiple mentors within the firm are working hard on training. In a best-case scenario, the new hire also has a go-to person to keep he or she connected and motivated. Are these team members well prepared and excited about the contributions that this new hire can provide to the team that will result in growth where everyone is rewarded? How are you helping all team members stay engaged? Who is assigned to make the new hire continue to feel welcome and included long after day one? It is a great opportunity for team bonding, not only with the new hire but the entire team. Celebrating a new hire is a great time to have fun with team building activities. Are you creating a storage vault with team building activities to pull from during this part of the process?
N- Nurturing Cannot Stop
Everyone is getting accustomed to having an extra set of hands onboard. Workflows have been created to make room for the new person. Do not let the momentum stop here. This is the perfect time to reset goals for the entire organization–groups as well as individuals. Make sure you have added the new hire to birthday lists, anniversary lists and any other event that shows appreciation. Have you created audit checkpoints to continually check in with the new hire on progress? Do you have reminders to say thank you or compliment a job well done and remind the new hire that the staff is glad he or she joined the team? What about the new salesperson? Are you helping he or she find leads and encouraging them to keep making calls? Remember nurturing is for longtime employees as well. This is a good opportunity to evaluate your entire nurturing process.
Start now working on your hiring toolbox. This is the “Art of Hiring.” There may be as many as one hundred steps when you really start thinking through all the details involved in hiring. You will be amazed at how your processes will evolve over time. Keep remembering that a true artist never stops working to create a masterpiece. Ask other business owners for their ideas and inspiration in each of these areas. The art of hiring is always changing and simply cannot be perfected with one hire or even 25 hires. Keep chipping away and just like the artist, your masterpiece will evolve as a well-organized team.
Kelley Herrin is a Habersham County, Georgia native and has strong connections to the community. She attended Piedmont College where she graduated with a Business and Accounting degree. Immediately after earning her degree in 1984 she joined her dad, John Barnette at Jack Bradley Agency and still continues this long tradition of family ownership. Her son Jonathan joined the agency in 2010, making it a third generation. She has served in every capacity in the agency including personal and commercial insurance. Presently she leads the organization and spends most of her time in customer experience, company experience, and employee experience.
Jack Bradley Agency is an independent insurance agency that represents many carriers to take care of business as well as personal needs for their clients. The agency also offers life, some health products, long term care, disability, and Medicare products for their senior customers. Professionally, Kelley has served on several insurance company agency councils, including Safeco Insurance Company and Encompass Insurance Company, including serving as the National Agency Council President for Safeco Insurance Company.
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