Be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to recruiting, hiring, orienting, training and retaining employees.

Before my brothers and I became enlightened (meaning we got our teeth kicked in so many times we eventually woke up), we used to hire people using the “Mirror Test.”

That was my brother, Marty’s, name for this intricate hiring process. Simply put, we waited till someone quit or we got disgusted enough to finally suck it up and fire him or her, which left us desperate. Hence, we’d hire pretty much anyone who walked through the door, breathed in the mirror and could fog it up!

Fortunately, we dedicated ourselves to getting out in front of the Staffing Parade instead of continually getting run over by it. Let me tell you, constantly getting run over really hurts.

That’s why we became proactive rather than reactive when it came to recruiting, hiring, orienting, training and retaining employees. We actually adopted the attitude that we’re always in the recruiting, hiring, orienting, training and retaining of employees business.

OK, I know some of you are thinking you have dedicated staff that would lie down in the middle of the road for you. And if so, you’re truly blessed. But for the rest of us (and that probably means you if you’re honest with yourself), staffing is a never-ending process. That’s because your staff is always getting on and getting off the train (a metaphor for your company) and a train doesn’t stand still.

What? Right staffing is a moving target because:

  • People quit.

  • People get fired.

  • People get promoted.

  • People get hurt.

  • People get sick.

  • People move.

  • People die.

You might be thinking, “I don’t need any more staff. I need more calls to make money.” To that, I say, “Great staff always makes you money. They find ways to help you maximize every opportunity to make money.”

The thing that a lot of folks miss is that just because you are always recruiting doesn’t mean you have to hire anyone. But suppose a great candidate came in. Do you mean to tell me there aren’t a couple of knuckleheads you’ve been dying to get rid of but lack the guts to let them go because you thought you didn’t have anyone to replace them?

Once you’ve accepted that you always need to be recruiting willing people to join your team, the next step is to follow a solid and repeatable hiring process. One key step is creating the testing you’re going to put each candidate through.

My company didn’t have any kind of testing years ago when the “Mirror Test” was still in vogue. But that changed when we decided to get proactive about staffing. We used to get sick to our stomachs when we found out what the new employees couldn’t do when they got into the field or to their desks, but it was too late.

With our heads up, we created a simple set of tests for each position at our company. And we gave a special focus to testing for techs on the trades we did (oil heating, gas heating, cooling and plumbing). The written test for each was not designed to be a doctorate final but rather a way to see what the applicant knew about those specific trade skills. It was mostly multiple choice; we had our own “weakest” techs take the test just to see how they’d do before we ever asked a new recruit to do it.

We also made it a timed test.

Why? Many people struggle with reading today and they really struggle when they’re put under pressure. Also, if applicants were going to fall apart because we put a deadline on the test, we knew they were likely to have an even bigger meltdown when they got in front of our understanding and warm clients from New York who could be a little demanding at times.

The written test was something we pulled right out of our own manual and anyone who paid attention in trade school or actually worked in the field could have passed it.

This one step elevated our recruiting and hiring process and the staff got better. But we did much more when it came to testing. I’ll have more to share about the secrets and the science of recruiting, hiring, orienting, training and retaining, so stay tuned.


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