Finding and keeping good employees

I think one of the most overused words in job ads is this: passionate.

I’ve lost count of the number of job ads by small businesses, looking for a candidate who is “passionate” about the advertised role, business or industry. Well, sorry, but in most circumstances you can’t expect an employee to be passionate about your business. That is something usually reserved for the owners, entrepreneurs or socially minded individuals.

Instead you have to look at what motivates a person to apply for a job.

From my experience, if you look at what motivates your candidates, you will find attributes that you are looking for that won’t be listed in their resumes. For example, we are looking for stability in our firm, so we look for people whose motivation to apply for the job is to work locally near their homes with flexible hours and receive support for upgrading their skills and education.

Write your job ads on these aspects, or get them to submit why they want to work with you as part of their resume.

I also like to ensure that candidates have the basic skills that are important for the role. For a client-facing role such as in customer service, we need to be sure they have qualities such as the ability to pacify angry customers, have empathy for them, and be proactive in following up with them.

Tell me about a time when you…

The questions you ask your candidates in a job interview can reveal their skills, abilities and more importantly – attitude and true personality.

Posing a “tell me about a time when you …” type of question can open up the conversation and let the person show more of their personality than their resume indicates. It will highlight their thought processes and how proactive or reactive they are, as well as how they have managed challenges.

Despite my initial annoyance on the word “passionate” in a candidate, his or her personal interest and activities out of office hours may help highlight their real motivation. For example, if they are looking for a job in the financial sector, do they keep up with the latest economic news outside of the office?

This could help you spot your next managerial candidate, and form part of your own succession plan for your future

Keeping your good employees

If you want to hang on to good people you’ll have to put some time into leading and motivating them on top of the usual cash incentives. It’s a two way street. If you want loyalty, high motivation and great performance, it needs to come from your leadership and the general culture of your business as much as from the personal input of your employee.

This may mean offering access to training for employees as they progress. But it can also mean doing small things like complimenting them when they have done a really good job and exceeded expectations or passing on good feedback from clients.

When they make a mistake, make them part of the solution by addressing it openly and do it as soon as possible so they don’t dwell on the error. Work with them to identify ways of avoiding it happening in the future. Show them that mistakes do happen and that they are acceptable as long as you deal with them as a team to ensure it does not reoccur.

For us, our office culture is at the forefront of everything we do with our employees. All projects, processes and reviews are designed around providing a better customer experience. When employees see that the customers come first, your staff will often appreciate that and be proud of it. This is when you get their “buy in” to the  office culture.