The owner of a large plumbing company said the other day, “My biggest problem right now is how to find good employees.”
A computer company owner told us he doesn’t have trouble finding people to hire. “The bigger problem,” he says, “is that new employees show up on the first day then never again. Or they work a week and then quit.”
Talk to any business leader today and one of their top issues is how to find good employees.
What keeps a small business from finding and keeping good employees is not so much about a labor shortage. It’s not about the qualities of the people they’re hiring. While these can have an impact, the root issue is about the kind of environment new employees experience at your business.
We don’t mean salary or benefits or working conditions. Those are important but by “environment” we mean your company’s culture. Every company has a culture whether intentional or unintentional.
Define your culture and then hire people who match it.
We’ve worked with dozens of clients in our business coaching business who’ve successfully hired whole teams of people who are hard-working, inspired, and loyal by using a process of identifying the culture and hiring people who match it. First it’s a matter of identifying the culture you want your small business to have. This can be done in a matter of hours because generally in a small business it’s the business owner’s beliefs, values, and “why” that define the culture of the company. Then, you create interview questions to uncover whether job candidates match your beliefs, values, and “why.” The closer an employee matches your company’s beliefs and values, the happier they’ll be, the harder they’ll work, and the longer they’ll stay.
How to define your culture
How to find good employees starts with defining your culture. Your company’s culture is made up of 3 components: beliefs, values, and your “why.”
- Beliefs are really a foundational element about what you believe about people, your place in the world. What do you believe about business? About the world in general and how it works? Customers? The community? If you believe, for example, that everyone’s out to get you, or that the glass is half empty, or that your people are lazy and shiftless, that’s the sense of you that people will have. “We respect all individuals,” says ‘this is the lens through which we at our company view the world.’ Of course, you only want employees, then, who share that same world view. Your beliefs might take the form of one belief statement, a couple of sentences, or even a word or list of 4-5 words each with a 1-sentence description.
- Values are how you behave and how you want people to behave. Say it’s critical that an employee’s words match his/er action, then integrity may be top value at your company. If you want pro-active, self-starting employees, you could list accountability as a value. Maybe for you it’s kindness, no drama, or teamwork. Check out our Values Ranking Tool which works you through a ranking exercise and gives examples of 50 values. About 5-7 values is the right number of values.
- Your ‘Why’ is a statement of your core passion… why you do what you do. Inspire Results Business Coaching’s owner, Roger Engelau’s why is ‘helping people fulfill their potential.’ That’s what Inspire Results exists to do. During a coaching meeting with an HVAC client it became clear that what jazzes him is ‘technical excellence.’ That is his ‘why.’ For a lawyer client, it was ‘helping the underdog.’ Once you have your why clarified in your mind, suddenly your business isn’t about numbers on a spreadsheet. It’s about a a purpose that gets you up in the morning and keeps you going even when things are down.
Here are some examples from companies you’re familiar with:
- We aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. – Apple
- To connect millions of people in real life all over the world, through a community marketplace– so that you can belong anywhere. – Airbnb
- To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. – Microsoft
- To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. – Google
We created the Finding Your Why Tool to help small business owners uncover their why which you can download and work through in an afternoon.
Once you have spelled out your beliefs, your values, and your why, you have your culture statement. Congratulations!
How to create interview questions
Now, how to find good employees that match your culture… Choose the top 2 – 4 words or phrases that describe qualities critical for every person who works in your company to have. These can come from any part of your culture statement, whether your beliefs, values, or why.
Let’ say you want everyone to have a sense of Accountability. You might phrase a behavioral question that you’ll ask in every job interview like this—“Tell me about a time when the boss was nowhere to be found and the work came to a halt. What did you do?” If the candidate says, “I waited for the boss to show up and told her we were at a standstill and I asked her what we should do next,” then, you know this person isn’t going to fit in your culture. But if he says, “I was pretty sure I knew what the boss would want us to do next so I started doing it,” it’s a pretty sure bet you’ve got someone who’s a self-starter. Another question to uncover whether someone has a sense of Accountability is “Tell me about a time when things didn’t go well on a prior job or project and you stepped up and admitted your part in the ownership of the problem. What was the situation, what did you say, and what was the result?”
A restaurant owner the other day said he can find people but they all seem to love drama. Now, one of his values is no drama and he finds people who aren’t interested in spending time and energy at the stirring the pot by asking, “Describe a situation where you got pulled into office gossip. What did you say to the person sharing the gossip, what was their reaction, and what happened in the end?”
How to find good employees can be a rewarding experience when you have a process in place for identifying people who match your culture. When you find employees who match your beliefs, values, and why, they won’t want to leave because it’ll be difficult to find an employer who matches them so well. Best of all, you’ll have a team of inspired peopled who love working at your company.
Defining your culture doesn’t have to be a long, time-consuming process. Another option is to attend, in-person or virtually, one of our Growth Plan Workshops. One of our coaches will work with you, and your team if they attend too. Check here for the next date and time.