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The Secret to Finding Good Help

March 24, 2010 - Management, Managing People, Operations

Small business owners are often too busy trying to keep the bills paid to think about the operations side of their business. Unfortunately, as the business grows, this trend continues.

There are literally thousands of businesses failed because they could not make the leap past the solo-entrepreneur stage into the small or mid size business stage.  There are two ways to make this jump; the hard way – keep making mistakes until you figure it out; and the less hard way – get help.

Even getting help is frustrating to a small business owner. The age old sentiment “It’s hard to find good help” is usually better translated as “I didn’t specify what skills and behaviors I wanted.” The place to find these skills and behaviors starts with the infrastructure of the business.

Critical to hiring someone that qualifies as “good help” is clearly articulating what “good help” is. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a well written job description.

A well written job description is supported by a foundation of solid processes. These processes, when combined with the job description form the core of the on-the-job training. Training a new hire is one of the best ways to make sure that they work the way you want them to.

Something else to include in your training process is – a definition of a good job. Too few employees understand what it means to “ do a good job.” If you don’t tell them what good looks like, they will invent a target on their own. Nine times out of ten this target is not the one you had in mind.

One of the easiest ways to test help before you hire them is to try a staffing firm. The upshot is that you get to try many potential employees out before you commit them to payroll. The downside is that converting these staffers to employees often includes an extra fee from the staffing firm.  This fee is usually well worth it if you feel that you have found an employee that you can work easily with.

A further consideration is subcontractors. In businesses that don’t require a brick and mortar facility, a staffer may not be absolutely necessary. A contractor can work on a project basis, or a flat hourly rate. Be careful, though, when selecting a contractor that may interface directly with your clients or customers. An underhanded contractor may steal customers away if you don’t set expectations in advance.

Whichever route you go, be sure to set your employees or contractors up for success by giving them the tools they need to succeed: a job description, the processes they support, training, and definitions of good behavior.

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