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Great hires start with clarity

Poor hires cost your business: lost payroll, wasted training (and wasted time as others cover), errors and mistakes, dissatisfied customers, to mention just a few. But despite popular thinking, combatting bad hires doesn’t start when you’re face-to-face with a potential recruit. It begins with upfront planning, a process that I call “Getting Clear.” As outlined in last month’s column, clarity is the effort you put in before you even post a job ad or start interviewing. By determining, ahead of time, why you need this role and what its responsibilities will be, what results you expect from the new hire in this role, and what activity levels they will need to maintain to get those results, you can create a stronger job description that sets expectations and objectives clearly upfront. This will guide not only those applying for the position, but will also guide the way in which you recruit, interview, and, ultimately, make your final decision. What’s more, it will help avoid hires who are unfit for the position as you envision it to be.

In fact, this investment of time up front has a huge ROI. For every hour you invest up front, you will save yourself at least 10 hours of tail-chasing down the road.

Clarity ensures you’re able to:

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  • Articulate a business need for the position
  • Set and communicate clear performance expectations for the new hire
  • Set performance expectations that you both agree to—before spending a dollar on payroll
  • Focus on what you need, not what could be
  • Understand the return on investment and value of the position

Once you are clear about what you need to hire, you will:

  • Create a great job description (and a great job ad)
  • Easily be able to weed out people who aren’t a good fit
  • Eliminate wasted money by not having to train an employee who won’t last
  • Know what’s needed to ensure ROI in the position
  • Build the framework to guide your recruiting strategy and interview process

I saw this need for clarity play out with a full-service lumberyard after they added a high-end window line and needed to hire someone to handle the technical questions that poured in. As the search began, it became very clear that the people with the level of experience the dealer wanted were earning well over what the company had planned to pay. As candidate after candidate declined to go forward, the dealer began to realize they needed to either lower their expectations or raise their compensation.

To get started creating this clarity, you need to do some deep thinking into both the position and the person you’re considering hiring. Here are four questions to consider. Before hiring anyone, you need to be able to answer each of these questions with a solid “Yes.”

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1. Is it worth it?
Is it worth the time, cost, and energy required to hire someone? Will the end result make it worth the effort? It’s exciting to think about hiring, but it’s so important to remember all the actual work that goes into turning a hire into a successful employee.

2. Can you clearly set expectations for the activities and results?
Do you have clear activity and result expectations for the first 90 days, 180 days, and first year? Are you prepared to communicate it with potential hires and make sure it’s reasonable?

3. Are you ready, willing, and able to train and support them for at least the next three months?
Even if they have years of industry experience, it will still take time for them to get to know your products, processes, and procedures.

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4. How long can you “carry” this person before they need to start paying for themselves?
The reality is, its takes most salespeople four to six months to start covering their payroll costs. Can you afford to wait that long?

You’re likely thinking that this is a lot of work. And you’re right. It’s not easy to gain clarity. It feels like there are too many variables to consider. But trust me. It’s much easier to get clear before you hire someone than regret it when you have an underperforming employee you’re paying to disappoint you. And always remember: NOT hiring someone is much easier (and cheaper) than firing them.

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