February 28, 2017

The Struggle of Hiring for Your Small Business


This is a post about hiring for Small Business Owners.

Now if you're not a Small Business Owner, but you are involved in hiring, you'll still get something from this. If you are a Small Business Owner, but don't need to hire, you too will get something from this. (If you are neither a Small Business Owner, nor involved in hiring then sadly there are probably other things on the internet that you'll find more appealing. I've heard great things about an octopus falling in love with a kitten over on YouTube).

Now, if you ARE a Small Business Owner AND you need to hire, well then the kitten and the octopus can wait because I'm about to drop a major nugget of insight, custom generated, just for you.

Are you ready? Here it is...hiring sucks.

You're welcome.

Hiring is without question one of the most psychologically crippling events for a Small Business Owner to experience and in order to understand why, we need to break the problem into its two basic parts; A) being a Small Business Owner, and B) hiring.

Let's start with being a Small Business Owner. If we further break down that phrase we will gain some much needed clarity on the issue.

Small, as in there's not a lot of resources to go around, Business, as in this is your livelihood and source of income, and Owner, as in when push comes to shove, it's all on you.

So...you don't have the resources to bring in an expert to help you, your time is at a premium given that you still have said business to run while hiring, and if anything goes wrong you have no one to share the grief with. Sounds like fun, I'll take two of those please.

The point is, it's not as simple as running an ad and making an offer. Nothing puts your entire operation through a magnifying glass quite like deciding to add someone new to it.

Most Small Business Owners run largely on instinct. If you ever asked them to sit and tell you how it is they run their outfit their answer would be varying degrees of, "I don't know, I just do".

Well all that goes out the window when you are forced to hire. This is because not only are these questions that applicants will ask you to see if they are interested in you, they are questions you must ask before even determining if they are what you are looking for. This is your business. It's your life, you spend more time there than anywhere else, and most of the time you spend anywhere else you spend thinking about what's going on back there!

Now, you’re forced to scrutinize this thing you've built, pick out all the holes and learn how to...gulp...ask for help. Make no mistake, that is what you are doing when you hire, you're saying that you can no longer go it alone and need an extra set of hands or three. All this sounds very aspirational. My business is growing, this is a good thing, I need more people to keep up with the growth. Unfortunately in our experience though, help is a four-letter word to most entrepreneurs. (Well, help is technically a four-letter word to anyone who speaks English but...you know what I mean).

What I'm driving at is that arriving at a place where you need to hire, means arriving at a place where you must begin to admit weakness, and it is nearly impossible for your subconscious to remove the bias that goes along with that from the hiring process.

Again, in our experience this commonly manifests itself in one of two ways; owners either look for someone akin to a demigod to come in and solve ALL problems and therefore overreach, or more commonly, looking at the business through this critical lens makes them feel ashamed of their enterprise and they are now subconsciously driven to hire anyone whose willing to take the job, just to scratch that itch and revalidate themselves.

Either situation is bad, but it's the shame spiral we see in the latter case that concerns us the most. When you hire it must come from a place of strength and wellbeing. Otherwise your radar will be way off, your talent evaluation will suffer, and so too will your business after you hire poorly.

This brings me to the second part of our little situation, the hiring itself.

The hiring process is full of irony, but most fascinating to us is the dichotomy of the self-consciousness owner, desperate enough to take any warm body that wants the gig, who then cannot stop obsessing about how little they are getting out of the person for the money they are paying.

While there may be a separation between your checking account and your business account, your subconscious views that all as one pool of money, and any dollar inefficiently deployed has the tendency to bother you. I had a client once in an interview say to the candidate, “I want you to treat the company’s money as if it’s your own and if that doesn’t work treat it likes its mine, because it is!” While he actually said it, the vast majority of the entrepreneurs we have coached have all thought it.

And this is just the money trigger. We haven’t even gotten into the various other triggers that go off in your brain when you bring someone new on, mainly because we’d be here all day. (If you’d like to know your triggers and which one stands to bother you the most when hiring feel free to click here; https://docsend.com/view/9jp4dt8 )

Suffice to say, all the angst that builds up before the decision to hire is even made, doubles back down during the process itself as well as those first few stressful months post hire when you begin to second guess that decision.

So what do you do? Well the advice is actually quite simple.

First, get to know yourself, not your business, YOU. Learn about YOUR tendencies, YOUR triggers, and YOUR biases. The better you know yourself, the more successful you stand to be at matching someone to you. (Again, the link above is a great first step)

Second, get to know your applicant. Run an interview. For those of you following along at home an IN-TER-VIEW is a conversation where they speak more than you so that you can learn something about them. Trust me, it works. (You may also want to follow our LinkedIn page; https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/10350441/ to get your hands on yet another free tool we'll be posting this Friday that will help you in this regard).

And finally, remember this; you have a business. That business has clients. Those clients make decisions chock full of their own scrutiny and they've decided to use you. Big or small, you have something, and it's something that the right applicant would be privileged to become a part of. This is someone’s dream job. Don’t settle for anyone who doesn’t feel that way.

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