Taking a business through its early growth stages can be a challenging and exciting opportunity for any investor. Business success stories are too numerous to list, and those who can guide the project through its startup and growth phases are justly rewarded in time. The world’s richest people are overwhelmingly entrepreneurs and investors, and the returns for success in business are limited only by the quality of management of the investment.
Investing in a new business with any hope of a return depends on identifying potential employees of the right caliber to take the organization forward. The right teams, across all levels of your business, will be the difference between success and failure, no matter the sector. They are directly responsible for the management of your investment, and too costly a burden to be unproductive or damaging to the growth effort.
Finding the right staff is crucial, but often one of the most difficult elements of management. Perfectly good applicants will be overlooked, while even the worst will get hired from time to time. In many respects, hiring is about minimizing the risk that the employee will be unproductive or damaging.
Human resources is definitely an investment that pays long-term dividends. Sourcing candidates can be challenging enough in some sectors. The process of short-listing and selecting the most suitable applicants is never easy, and ensuring talent is retained to add value for future years is not any simpler. Through ensuring adequate investment and commitment to devising a working HR model, it will be possible to reap rewards commercially.
Making Good Hiring Decisions
Hiring staff is difficult, regardless of the position and the ability of skill demanded. In reality, the hiring process can only ever deliver a minor insight into the individual applicant. How an individual performs on paper, at interview, or even in a trial period on the job isn’t always a good indicator of how they would perform over 6 months or a year. This makes it fiendishly tricky to find employees that stick, develop, and deliver value for years to come.
Some companies report that as few as 50% of their hires turn out to be effective. And these are companies that already employ rigorous hiring processes to ensure they see the best candidates. No business should be any different – no one can afford to take a gamble with employees without first pursuing extra lengths to find out if they are likely to be effective.
Making better hiring decisions starts with the pre-screening process. Applicants should be judged against an objective standard of what you expect for the role. Many employers fall into the trap of making decisions based on comparisons. Mandy’s resume might be better than Brad’s, but Nick, who didn’t apply this time, could look twice as good on paper. An objective benchmark is required, even at this early stage, so you can filter only those candidates with the best chance of meeting your standards – not just the best of the applications in front of you.
Don’t be afraid to carry on looking. Rushing into a hiring decision is a potentially critical error, and one that can easily be a drain on your business. Positively bad employees can do tremendous damage, and you need to make sure you take care over anyone that comes under consideration. Don’t reduce your standard – you want to find someone that can live up to expectations instinctively and from day one, no matter the type of employment you are offering.
When you have found sufficient applicants to provide a cross-section of options, it is time to proceed to interview. Some organizations with larger applicant pools choose to do rounds of interviews, almost akin to a tournament where the successful progress. This can also include aptitude testing, scenario-based techniques and other methods to attempt to develop a greater insight into the individual candidate.
Interviews can never be too rigorous, and it is better to be too formal in your process than too casual. One round of interviewing may feel like enough, and that might be OK if you feel you can elicit enough information from that one meeting. But generally, it is worth aiming to find out as much as possible about a candidate before making them a job offer. This reduces the risk that the hire will prove to be a mistake, making it easier to take a decision about employment.
Aptitude tests are commonplace in many recruitment processes. These tests aim to distinguish candidates by ability across key core skills for the job. These may be general, testing basic knowledge in subject areas, or much more specific and tailored to the job. Don’t be afraid to ask a candidate to complete an aptitude test ahead of their final interview stage, to gain greater insights into ability.
The interview itself may be the best chance you can have of forming an opinion. Questions must be well thought-out and planned. Test the interviewees on more than just their pre-prepared answers. How do they react to changing circumstances? How do they deal with probing or critical questions? Techniques of this nature, which aim to get behind the standard interview spin, can be effective.
Finally, you should never be afraid to ask an obvious question. What seems obvious to you, even for the most basic of employment expectations, may not be obvious to a particularly poor candidate. Asking about past absence histories or scenario-based questions with seemingly obvious answers can help you weed out any unsuitable candidates that have slipped through to this stage in the process.
A well-resourced, trained HR team, either in-house or externally for staffing KC, is essential to developing methods of finding the right personnel. But identifying new staff and narrowing down the options is only a tiny part of the human resources function.
Training Talent For The Long Haul
Every person you hire is an investment for the future, and one that requires patience, expense and training. Even at this stage, staff can demonstrate that they are less capable for the role. When leading this process, it is essential to provide those who have been selected for a post with the basic direction, instruction and support to perform their job well. More effective training leads to better business results, and a more supported workforce is likely to pull together more effectively. Subtle improvements in areas of HR like this can cause ripples right through an organization, and these tend only to be positive.
Whether it is a first-job graduate or an experienced industry veteran with 30 years’ experience, every new hire requires initial and ongoing training. This may be training to actually do the mechanics of the job, whatever that may be. But in many cases, it includes an ongoing training component, molding the employee into the ways of the company and how they do business. This improves employee cohesion, which leads to more effective staffing and, in many cases, better productivity.
Training talent is like investing in shares – if they were people. While there is an inherent element of unpredictability, investments in training that pay off can add significant value to your investment.
Investment In Staff Retention
Finding and training staff can be an awkward and often expensive process for any business to go through. To lose a staff member to a competitor, or to a different industry altogether, is a significant inefficiency that needs to be plugged. If your business pays for the training, you want and deserve to see the benefits of it. Where staff retention is low, this undermines the entire process of hiring and creates more substantial costs for HR budgets to swallow.
Instead, businesses that invest in their staff and in attempting to keep them satisfied can see much longer-term service. Treating employees well is a culture, not just a few extra dollars in the pay packet. Yes, wages are important, but so too are working conditions, environment, type of work and a host of other factors. Investing in keeping your staff morale high at all costs will ensure productivity, not to mention value for money on your investment in staffing.
These don’t have to be significant costs. In fact, there are many ways in which simply refining business processes can have an impact. Staff retention is too often underrated, yet it is critical to managing your business investment through its early stages and beyond.
The right personnel makes a huge different to any business. From keeping tighter books in accounts through to cleaner toilets, more effective marketing or better customer service, people really do make or break a business. As an investment they can be unpredictable, often challenging. In some cases, your business will invest in training a batch of new starts, none of whom eventually make the grade. While these losses can be tough to bear, investing in the right hiring policies can make a big difference to success rates.
In many respects, staffing and resourcing the HR team adequately can have an influence here. In some cases, it may even be preferable to outsource the HR function to an experienced agency, for a more qualified perspective on your staff-finding processes.