As early as we are in our business – over the last couple of years, I’ve learned a lot about hiring – and am continuing to learn. If this article can help you skip some of the problems I’ve had and skip to some good parts – that would be amazing!
Just for a quick overview of where our company is at when I wrote this:
- Our 8 person team at Hook regularly talk about how our culture is a huge part of why they like working here.
- We have very productive employees, and they have a lot of freedom/autonomy.
- We have a ton of amazing clients, that love working with our team.
Table of Contents
Clarify 3-5 core values with your existing team
Why is it important to know who your company is and what you’re all about?
You may think it’s obvious, but it’s not actually always that obvious what the core values of your team are.
You may think it’s ‘Hustle ’til you die’ and your second in command might be telling new employees that you’re interviewing that its work-life balance. Hammer it out together, for better results. See what you can agree on, and make sure they aren’t just ‘corporate-speak’ and uninspiring.
- Make your core values as down to earth as possible.
- Some might say – if some people perceive your core values as ‘too spicy’ or even negative than you might have really nailed something special.
- Ours are ‘1. Scrappy, 2. Results-Driven, and 3. Humble’ – we had 12, but slimmed down to 3 so they could be dead simple to remember.
Why does having 3-5 core values set you up to find great employees?
The people that resonate with your core values are ‘true believers’, ask them to tell you a story of a time when they demonstrated each.
This is why it’s awesome to have somewhat spicy core values, because if they don’t agree with that, or you can tell they aren’t energized by those ideas, that it’s better to not hire that person than to risk hiring someone who’s not a cultural fit.
Core values are strongly suggested by ‘Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business’, here’s a quick overview via video:
Use the Big Takeaways from the Book Drive: Offer Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose
Daniel Pink in the Book ‘Drive’ says that if you offer a Competitive salary than you will keep your employees around if you offer 3 all-important elements in your employees’ work:
- Autonomy – do you set up the result that’s needed to be achieved and then let your employees doggedly pursue that, and take the route they want? Do they have enough day to day, hour to hour choice to prior
- Mastery – are your colleagues sharpening their skills weekly, is there mentorship and opportunity to advance their skill on a regular basis? Do you allow your employees to own the work or just do busy-work?
- Purpose – Is there a bigger purpose at play here? A home builder in Minneapolis, Minnesota we did work for shifted from thinking of themselves as named after the ‘anchor’ in carpentry, and instead positioned themselves as (as a team) creating anchors of the family – a new tagline ‘The home is the anchor of the family.’ By creating an emotional, memorable, purpose that transcends business – you create buy-in, and a reason to go the extra mile.
Video Overview of Drive:
Why does offering autonomy, mastery, and purpose attract great employees?
We want our employees to be the best ambassadors for our companies culture that we have. Spending time with each of them (perhaps a half an hour a week at least when your team is small) allows you to keep a pulse on their lives, and letting them own the work allows you to not micro-manage, to delegate, and to spot-check. Cultivating meaning in your employees work, and your companies overall mission is hard – but it will give you employees that care deeper than just a paycheck.
Create ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ and Clarity of Expectations
Ever since I read ‘E-myth Revisited’ about creating systems, even if you’re just working alone so that one day you can pass them off – I knew about the general concept of ‘Standard Operating Procedures’ – but I’ve grown the idea much further, and our company tries to maintain a ‘Wiki’ with everything an employee would need to carry out their work on a regular basis. Sr. Employees are supposed to be adding, and changing these wiki’s whenever possible as well.
Overview of E-myth Revisited
- The book ‘Traction’ talks about clarity of expectations – what are your employees 3-5 ‘rocks’ that they should be hitting each quarter.
- What are the weekly tasks that they should be hitting at least 80% of the way? Set this up with each employee, and track in a weekly ‘level 10’ meeting.
- Clear quarterly and weekly goals make it dead-simple when someone is performing, or is way behind, and make it easier for the employee to gauge themselves and improve as well.
Telling an employee when they aren’t living up to expectations is important too. Don’t make them guess! It’s not the end of the world, but you really do have to tell people when they could be doing better and how. Otherwise, you’re not affording them the opportunity to improve – and that’s lame.
Why does having ‘standard operating procedures’ and clarity of expectations attract amazing employees?
People want to work somewhere where it’s not a mystery when they are doing well or poorly.
They also want it to be somewhat simple (if not always easy) to get up to speed on the way you do things – and then have a clear process to be able to improve the way you do things.
People can sense chaos – they can also sense when there’s at least some order, and high-functioning adults are often drawn to clarity of expectations and order.
Help your employees identify and move towards goals
In the useful book – Dream Manager, by Patrick Lencioni, there is a business parable that describes the idea that you’ll retain more employees if you help them flesh out their dreams, big and small – and help them move towards those dreams. I would argue, having a culture where this is the norm, you’ll also attract better people.
A really quick video summary of The Dream Manager
- Ask employees what their dreams and long-term goals are. Career-wise, and personally.
- Help them outline the goals for this year related to those goals, and see how you can help.
- Nurture this amongst other leaders in your organization, and push people to identify and take the next steps towards these regularly.
Why does helping employees move towards goals and dreams attract the right employees?
Awesome employees have long-term goals – and word of this practice will seep out of your organization, and naturally get your employees talking about this with their friends, family, and other prospective employees.
Make your employees the hero of each of their stories
In the Reid Hoffman story (parts 1 and 2) on the Masters of Scale podcast, Reid Hoffman talks about Peter Thiel (author of Zero to One, and PayPal founder), and how he recruited so many high-powered and brilliant executives like Reid to his cause.
He compares it to when he played Dungeons and Dragons when he was younger – and what made it fun is making each player a hero in their own story, giving them the good components of the story (their challenge, or dragon) and how knowing they move on at some point doesn’t need to hold them back from having a highly useful tour of duty in your organization.
You have to listen to those 2 episodes – they are just so good.
But if you get nothing else out of this point – make your employees the hero of their story. It’s not you – it’s not the company – it’s them, and there are simultaneous hero stories happening every day at our company, I hope.
Why does making your employees the hero of their story, attract awesome employees?
As much as you realize, we’re all at the center of our own story – it will allow you to get out of the way, and getting out of the way is energizing to existing employees and future employees alike.
Give them the result you want, let them own that
You have hired smart people, now let them be smart.
You may think to hold their hand on every decision is going to lead to a better result – but it also doesn’t allow them to grow, or allows them to grow with your imposed crutches on them.
Outline the clear, positive result you want… and then let them forge some of the details.
As long as they are getting 80%, some micro-failure leads to a much better macro-results, and ultimately – will allow your company to grow.
Why does giving the result and letting them own it attract better employees?
Emotional maturity is central to every great hire – emotionally mature employees that are willing to do emotional labor, and otherwise, are much more likely to join a team where they aren’t micro-managed.
Where to Find Great Employees – a list of 4 tried and true strategies
1. Go to events and tap your personal network.
Nothing beats face to face – if you’re on a non-profit board, or deeply involved with a trade organization – you can eye those high-functioning meetup attendees from afar, join for the brew at the brewery after the event and see how they are loving (or not loving) their current gig. Personal connections account for so much smaller companies (and many big companies) new business – and may also account for your next hire.
2. Post your job openings on your website, workable, indeed and LINKEDIN
LinkedIn is powerful. It really depends on your industry, but for digital LinkedIn is king. Try all of them, and then hone in on the one that provides the most qualified candidates, and double down on that one.
Provide a quick list of qualifications, but push for more soft skills and give as much of the details that you possibly can.
Pro-tip: It may seem scary to give a salary range, but if you don’t want to waste 30 hours talking to people you can’t hire – provide that range.
3. Go to colleges, trade schools, or wherever up-and-comers are in your industry, speak and ask teachers.
Once again, face to face is king.
Portfolio shows, trade shows, community organizations – anything where the craft your hiring for is taught, get out there and meet people.
- Be useful, come early stay late if you can.
- Come for a little while, and then ask to speak!
4. Connect on Linkedin with everyone you meet everywhere, and share what you’re looking for– ask people to share on social.
Sometimes you just have to be resourceful and act a little desperate.
The truth is – being vigorous about your search, doesn’t make your company look bad, in fact – if you do it right, it has the exact opposite effect…
People might actually appreciate that your company is growing and be reminded to send you the new business that’s in your wheelhouse, and be reminded that your capacity for great work is growing and that you’re willing to hire when it’s needed.
Good employees expand capacity, and are not an expense – they make you money.
Stop being scared of hiring amazing employees.
When you have your core values down, and you hire smart – you’re going to make more money, and do better work for your ideal clients.
Just make sure you’re keeping in mind these principles, and remember that you work for your employees as much as they work for you.
If this article was useful to you – please share it with your network!
Thank you for reading.