How to hire, train, and maintain an hourly workforce

Archive for the category “Hiring hourly team members”

Great Doesn’t Happen By Accident… Indoctrination

Navy seals What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team?  Part 4 of a series… So here we are in part 4 of this synopsis of my 70 or so post series, walking through hiring the best hourly team members, indoctrinating them onto our team, choosing the right apprentices, and changing the culture of our team from the one that allowed us to be average to one that will not allow average people to remain on the team.  The original posts can be found here starting with hiring… We’ve talked about the importance of hiring for qualities rather than skills (remember, we are hiring hourly team members, from no experience/entry level to Store Team Leaders) since we can train almost anyone pretty much any skills that might be needed, however we cannot teach qualities…   Qualities are the things that make our best people “clone worthy”. We’ve also talked about using the “ketchup question” when hiring for customer service, and the need to determine the default customer service level of your applicant. If you haven’t already, you can read part 1part 2, and part 3. So… we’ve interviewed our applicant by making them comfortable, and getting to know them through an in depth conversation, where we asked questions to find the behaviors that describe the Leadership qualities we are hiring for. And, we’ve decided to hire the person siting in front of us. Now what?  Well… In order to build a truly great team, we cannot allow our great new hire to simply adapt to the team as it stands.  We will simply end up with yet another mediocre team member. First step: Before I leave the room I will spend another 45 to 60 minutes with my new hire.  Yup… another hour to make sure that I get them off on the right foot invested now will pay off in more ways than you will believe. Remember, great does not happen by accident.  We are not satisfied with the standards of behavior, or the culture of our current team (if you are, good for you!  Keep up the great work!), and it is going to take hard work and tough decisions in order to affect the change that needs to happen.  You can do this, and you need to start today… right here and right now. You will invest the time and energy to get this new hire fired up.  You need them to come onto your team with a full understanding of the new standards you will be holding the team to.  You need to indoctrinate them with your excitement about what the team is going to be like, how excited you are to have them on your team, the important role they will play in achieving the goals of the team, and how interested you are in helping them achieve their goals (you just got done talking to them for an hour… you better be able to talk in depth about their goals!). Some people will state that they don’t like the word indoctrinate… and that’s OK.  You don’t have to use that word if it makes you feel uncomfortable.  And… Think of the best, strongest, and highest performing teams you can.  Perhaps the Navy Seals come to mind?  I grew up in the town that borders West Point… that comes to my mind (and where I hope our 17 year old will go)…  Now, do those teams welcome and train their newest team members?  Is there coffee, nice music playing in the background while we talk about how we like our team members to treat each other with the same respect you would like to be shown?   Not so much… What kind of process is it? I’ll give you a hint… it’s indoctrination.  Before anyone is brought onto the team they are told that it will be a difficult job, that it will be hard work, that you’re your teammates will be committed to excellence, and that you will be expected to uphold the highest standards of behavior and performance. I don’t believe that there is any way to maintain that level of performance without some form of indoctrination.  You don’t have to agree, and has what you’ve been doing gotten you a great team?  Is there a reason you can’t have a team that functions at an incredibly high level?  This process of hiring for qualities and indoctrinating every one of my new hires worked wonderfully for me, and that’s why I’m suggesting you take a chance and go for great! Whatever you choose to call it, if you want to achieve and maintain a very high level of performance, you will have to instill your new hire with the values and beliefs of your team.  Make sure they understand how much you value having them on the team, and that you are looking forward to them using their experience and knowledge to help the team improve everything it does. This is not something that you can delegate, nor can it be left to someone who does not even work on your team.  You, and only you (because you are the team Leader) can instill your new hires with your excitement about the future of the team, your passion for the success of the team, the rewards that come from achieving the goals of the team, and what the future can/will hold for your new hire.  If you feel you have found a great addition to the team, make sure they really understand how excited you are about having them on the team, and how they will be a key player in helping the team achieve it’s goals. If you do this right, your new hire will come in for his or her first day of work with more motivation that anyone currently on your team.  And as long as you continue to stay involved in their work and development, you can help them maintain that level of engagement. I believe that team member engagement is all about our relationship with the person to whom we report.  So you are starting to build that strong, trusting relationship the day you decide to hire them! Since we are transparent, we make sure our new hire understands that we are a team in transition. That means they might work with team members who are not upholding the expectations we just discussed, or acting in a manor consistent with the culture we described, and that does not mean it is OK for our new hire to do anything other than meet or exceed those expectations. We will explain that we are working on changing/improving the culture of the team, that we have some team members who may not be a good fit on this team, and that we are working hard to change their behavior of get then off the team. It is imperative that we are honest and transparent from our very first encounter with each and every great new hire.  We may not have always been as honest and transparent as we should have been in the past, and the only way to develop a truly great team is by making a commitment to honestly and transparency moving forward. I wrote a post about how and why I indoctrinate (you can read it here) and your indoctrination process should be personal, and fit your workplace.  I honed this process hiring and developing great teams for Whole Foods Market… a fast paced retail environment where standards are high and so are customer expectations.  You should indoctrinate your new hires with your ideals, your team’s values, and your hopes for their future.  Tell them everything you would want to hear if you had made it onto a team that had very high standards, and happy to have you join them. That’s probably long enough for today (too long by many standards), and I feel that too often posts and articles are too short to effectively help us really understand how to achieve the results talked about in the post.  So… I write until I feel I’ve said enough to actually help you.  I know this will mean some people won’t read them, and that’s OK. In part 5 we’ll talk about the next steps in building a great team, like the next steps in our new hire’s work life, moving those who are holding the team back off the team, and how to change the culture of our team.


Great Doesn’t Happen By Accident… Part 3

huge fossil shark tooth

What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team? Part 3 of a series…

So here we are in part 3 of this synopsis of my 70 or so post series, walking through hiring the best hourly team members, indoctrinating them onto our team, choosing the right apprentices, and changing the culture of our team from the one that allowed us to be average to one that will not allow average people to remain on the team. The original posts can be found here starting with hiring…

We’ve talked about the importance of hiring for qualities rather than skills (remember, we are hiring hourly team members, from no experience/entry-level to Store Team Leaders) since we can almost anyone pretty much any skills that might be needed, however we cannot teach qualities…   If you are interested you can read part 1 and part 2.

Back to it…

You will have to determine what, if any, qualities are particularly important in your workplace. As I stated in the earlier, I believe that teachability (the ability to hear feedback and change our behavior accordingly), some level of self-awareness, self-responsibility, honesty, and some level of emotional intelligence are perhaps the most important qualities when hiring hourly team members, and I will not hire anyone in which I can’t find some level of development.

Teachability because they will be coachable, and able to hear feedback.

Self-awareness because if we are not aware of our own character, desires, and everything else that is going on within us, we end up feeling that life happens to us, rather than seeing much of what happens as a consequence of our choices.

Self-responsibility because if we don’t own our actions and behaviors, we end up blaming everything and everyone else for our problems. This goes hand in hand with self-awareness.

Honesty because, well we don’t want to hire anyone who is not honest or lacks character. We need them to do the right thing even when no one is looking.

Emotional intelligence because I don’t believe we can develop honest, authentic relationships unless we know what we are feeling. If we are not aware of our feelings, we can end up driven by our feelings… out of control.

I’ve already mentioned that every applicant I hire has to have a default standard of customer service that is at least as high as my own, because it’s next to impossible to get someone to consistently uphold a higher level of customer service than the level they believe is the right level, at least without constant supervision, and who has the time for that?

As I described earlier, and starting here over 3 posts on my blog, I’ve identified behaviors that describe the qualities I am looking for. Then during my conversation with the applicant, I concentrate on finding those behaviors. I’m sure you can come up with many more behaviors than the ones I listed… and then you just have to get your applicant comfortable and talking all about themselves. You keep listening for the behaviors that describe the qualities you need.

For customer service, I ask one question, and one question only. It is the ‘ketchup question’, and I talk about it at length here. I may need to do a video of it, because after teaching scores of people how to ask it, I’ve found that the delivery is incredibly important. Once you get it down, it is the only question you need to make sure your hires have a very high level of customer service. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have about the ‘ketchup question’ or any of this.

So… since this is a synopsis, I’ll skip ahead to the point where we’ve decided to hire our applicant because they answered the ‘ketchup question’ the way we wanted, and we are satisfied that they have developed the qualities we are looking for enough so that we feel confident we can help them continue to work on their Leadership qualities.

Next step, indoctrination. Yup… next time in part 4.

What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team? Part 1 of a series…

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A truly great team requires obsessively great hiring, a trusting, transparent Leader who strives to be a servant Leader, shared goals and values (best if developed by the team), a culture of ownership and responsibility, and a need for constant improvement.

I have been writing about hiring and training the best hourly team members, as well as how to change the team culture to enable the development of a truly great team on my blog for some time now. It’s been almost 100 posts in the making, and I imagine it can be daunting jumping into what is essentially a book on hiring and team development.

So… I thought we might shorten all of those posts into a much shorter series on hiring the best hourly team members; how and why to hire for Leadership qualities; honesty, trust and transparency as they relate to Leadership (servant Leadership in particular); developing team goals and values; developing/changing our team culture; and developing enough trust and ownership in that culture that will not only allow for constant improvement, but will demand it.

I’ve been hiring hourly team members, from entry level/no experience people to department Leaders and Store Team Leaders for 30 years now, and that is what I’m writing about. When hiring executives, or other jobs where specific job skills, talents, and/or a specific educational background is needed, weed out the applicants without these mandatory requirements, and then follow the steps I outline below. If you disagree, I’m sure you’ll let me know

Hiring is arguably the most important thing we do. You cannot have a great team without hiring great people. If you don’t have the team you want, the first thing you need to look at is your hiring. In fact, if you don’t have the team you want, and you have been doing the hiring, I’d suggest that you need to get someone who has a track record of hiring great people either take over your hiring, or retrain you on how to hire. Yes it’s hard to own up to that, and admit that we aren’t good at hiring. And… without great hiring we will never have that great team.

Too many of us have some notion that we cannot admit we are not that good at hiring… for some reason admitting that is a huge blow to our egos. We are all very good at one or two things, OK at most things, and not so good at other things. Build and play to your strengths, and find people who are very good at the jobs you are not so good at. You can read my whole series about how to hire hourly team members for Leadership qualities starting here on my blog. It will take some humility to fully accept that we need to unlearn our old ways of hiring in order to learn to hire for qualities. And the payoff is simply amazing!

You will be hiring for attitude/qualities first, and any needed skills second (again, I’m talking about hiring hourly team members). In fact, you should be hiring for every position based on Leadership qualities first, skills second. If you are serious about developing a great team, you will need the best Leaders. How many places have you worked where great Leaders are being developed? Any? So… you will have to grow your own, and hiring for Leadership qualities is the best way to start. The hourly team members you are hiring today will be your Leadership team in the near future.

Your should read my post about Hiring for what can’t be trained, and in a nutshell… Think about the people who you would love to clone… they are probably really good at the skills of their job, and is that what makes them clone worthy? Probably not… They are most likely clone worthy because of the qualities they possess… because of their attitude towards their work… that’s what makes them great! I can take the next person you see and train them how to do every task needed to run a grocery store (you can probably train the skills needed for your workplace), however I cannot train qualities. We cannot train anyone to be self aware, to show self responsibility, to have courage, to extend trust, or to be honest… those cannot be trained, so we must hire for them, and I dare to say, at least for hourly team members, almost only for them!

The best way I have found to determine which people have the qualities we are looking for is through a long and friendly conversation, with some specific questions used to draw out our own make or break qualities.

For instance, if your new hires will be dealing with your customers, it is imperative that their default level of customer service is at least as high as your expected level of service. I have found it next to impossible to get people to consistently provide a higher level of customer service than they believe is the correct level, without constant supervision, and no one has the time for that. So… we must hire people who already believe that our expected levels of service are the correct and only reasonable level of service. Then, and only then, can we count on them to consistently deliver that level of service without any supervision. I wrote a post specifically about hiring for customer service here.

Well, we knew this would be a series… next time we’ll start to talk about just how we discover whether or not our applicant has been developing the qualities we’re looking for.

How Your Job Descriptions Are Maintaining Mediocrity


If your goal is to hire people who need to be told each and every thing that needs to be done, as well as how to do it, you are on the right track! Keep up the good work!

If your goal however, is to end up with a great, high performing team, I suggest you work on shortening those job descriptions, and perhaps not even thinking about them until after you’ve hired. And yes I am going to tell you why….

Why your current job descriptions need to go:

  • They fail to accurately describe success in the job
  • They do not accurately list real life expectations
  • They often define responsibilities too narrowly, keeping people from jumping in and helping where needed
  • They may exclude people you would love to have working with you, and who are turned off by the description of the job

If you are like most people, you are hiring to fit a job description. You post an ad with the job description; people reply, noting how they fit the job description; and you hire the one(s) who seem to best fit.

How’s that working out for you? Your team is like the Chicago Bulls from the 90’s? Full of superstars is it? Everyone working to achieve a common goal, yes? Maybe not… Let’s try again.

I’d bet you have a person or two working for you that you would love to clone, right? If you are very lucky, or good at hiring for qualities, you might even have more than two of these “Clone Worthy” people.

What is it that makes them ‘clone worthy’? Is it that they carefully follow their job description each and every day, checking off tasks as they go? Are they constantly stopping to ask you what to do next, or how to do something? Do they complete the tasks they are told to do, and nothing more, nothing less? Do they keep their mouths shut, silently obeying orders like good soldiers? Probably not. I’ll bet they have no idea what is on their job description!

Do your clone worthy people even fit your job description? Do they meet your current ‘requirements’ for the job? If you just met them would you hire them for this job?

More than likely they:

  • Are self-responsible
  • Take pride in their work
  • Are confident, with a realistic assessment of their strengths and weaknesses
  • Are intelligent, though perhaps not well educated
  • Are humble, and teachable
  • Are honest, and trustworthy
  • Appreciate the freedom to figure things out
  • Communicate clearly and respectfully, and listen to understand
  • Are generous, dependable, and have a good attitude

So, I have to ask, why are you hiring for anything other than this list? Stop using your job description for hiring.

Now… you still need to change your job description so it gives the desired outcomes of the role, while allowing the great ‘clone worthy’ people the freedom they need to do their best work.

  • A few lines are all you need… a paragraph at most.
  • Describe what your ‘clone worthy’ people are like…
  • Include the qualities you are looking for in your next superstar
  • Include the desired results…
  • Keep it simple… remember, the right qualities are important here…
  • You can train skills, you can’t train qualities

How To Hire People Who Will Engage With Your Customers

I know very few, if any, people who would honestly state that the majority of their team members meet or exceed their stated standards for customer service.

Yet each and every one of us does our best to carefully hire the most qualified people we can find. We use everything we’ve been taught, and everything we’ve learned over the years to weed out the ones we don’t want, and choose the best among our applicants. We do our best to interpret and understand the information we get.

We then give team members our standards and our expectations, and we still of course, find that most of them fail to treat our customers the way we would.

People cannot be trained to have high customer service standards.

They might know our expectations, however there is little we can do to affect their default customer service standards.

What is the disconnect between our hiring efforts and the results of those efforts?

I believe it is as simple as this…

We are looking for the wrong things when we hire for customer service.

We are finding people who can run a register, unload trucks, order food and supplies, wash dishes, greet customers, paste on a smile, keep the floor clean and dry, show customers to an item, and even ask questions to narrow down on the best way to help that customer. Yet we can easily train these skills to anyone.

We are not finding people who will always meet or exceed our customer service standards.

Anyone working in restaurants or retail stores, perhaps working anyplace where customers are involved… knows that we simply do not have the time, or really the inclination to follow-up on each and every worker’s level of customer service.

We have to find people who meet or exceed our standards on their own.

How do we do this you ask?

1. Admit that while you are doing your best, you are still not getting the results you desire. That means you must be open to changing the way you think about hiring.

2. Carefully define your customer service standards. How do you expect your team members to treat your customers?

3. Define them simply, with no more than a handful of statements. It might look something like this:

  • We treat each and every customer the way we want to be treated
  • Helping customers is our work… customers are the reason we are here
  • Customers are NEVER an interruption… see above
  • Anything is returnable at any time, for any reason
  • We will do everything in our power to keep a customer from leaving unhappy
  • Always offer help and try to engage
  • If they want to be left alone, it is not about you… Leave them alone
  • We will invite customers into our store as if inviting family and friends into our home
  • When in doubt, do for the customer… we would rather ask forgiveness than wait and ask for permission

Your list should describe your own personal customer service standards and expectations. This is not a wish list for some dream world… it’s how you really want your team members to act with your customers, day in and day out.

4. Develop questions that find the applicant’s default level of customer service… that is… what are their own customer service standards for themselves?

For myself, through some trial and error, I came up with “the ketchup question” which solved my customer service problems. I would suggest reading the post and either using the question as is, or adapting it to your own needs.

5. Hired only those applicants whose own customer service standards meet or exceed yours.

Done! Oh wait… just how do we develop those questions? I guess you’ll have to read my blog. I wrote a whole series on hiring for qualities instead of skills. You can find the beginning of that series right here. Of course feel free to skip around, however it’s important to remember that hiring the best people is only the beginning. Keeping them requires a lot more work, which again, I describe in my blog. Great people will not work for a poor boss for very long…

If you have any questions on this method of hiring, feel free to ask.

Oh… and if you like my blog, would you please ‘like’ my Facebook page? Thanks a billion!

How And Why I Indoctrinate Team Members…

When hiring, I indoctrinate every team member I hire right then and there. Meaning, if I spend an hour or more interviewing you, and then decide to hire you, we will spend at least another hour together. I use this time to set expectations, set standards, and make sure my new hire knows, really understands that I am happy to have them on the team, that I believe in them, that the are an important part of the success of the team, and that I have every faith in their success here.

While I make every effort to only hire the best people I can find, it’s rare to be able to start with a fresh team of new hires. We usually end up inheriting a team, and then adding our hires to it through attrition, transfers, or promotions. That means we have a mix of old and new team members. Hiring is important, and what we do with and for our new people after hiring them is just as important. An above average hire, if left to someone outside the team to ‘onboard’ is likely to become an average hire. We are probably working to change the culture of our team, and turn it from average to high performing, so starting our newest person with high expectations is key.

Once I decide to hire you, we’ll sit for 45 to 60 minutes and I will literally indoctrinate you with the standards and expectations of the team. Each and every team member I hired went through this same hour or more interview, and this hour indoctrination… this is a tough team to get on to, and you should feel proud! We do not accept just anyone onto our team.

I expect you to be adaptable… this is a high performing team, and we are able switch gears on a moments notice. We support our company and it’s goals, and sometimes that means our priorities change quickly and often. You will be able to listen to your supervisor, and even other team members, and take your cues from them.   I expect that you will be a creative force on the team, and that you will see with fresh eyes all of the things that we can do to improve. You will speak directly to your supervisor of me about your concerns with systems or people, and you will not gossip or speak badly about one team member to another. I’m looking forward to your help making this already great team even better!

You will be working closely with a variety of people, and you will all be working towards the common goals of the team. Working with others is great, and I know you will be able to add your own experience and way of thinking to the mix very soon. I expect that you will show commitment to the team, and each and every other person on the team. I did not choose you lightly, and I do not put my trust in others lightly… I trust you, and expect you will not let me down. You will need to be here, on time, every day. That is the only way we stay a top performing team… we all commit to each other.

With the fast pace of the team and the frequent changes in priorities, you will need to speak up if you are not 100% sure of what you should be doing or how to do it. There is nothing wrong with not knowing, however not speaking up is one of the few unacceptable things you can do. You are an important part of the team, starting your first day, and the questions you ask, the suggestions you offer, and the genuine, honest communication you display are a key part of your contribution.

I know that you will make mistakes… they are not just expected, they are demanded! If you are not making mistakes, you are not trying hard enough. Good enough does not cut it on this team, and once you are able to achieve the desired results the way you have been taught, I expect you will draw on your experience and your intelligence and find new, more efficient ways to help the team. Sometimes you will mess up, and this is important… I need to hear about your mistakes directly from you. I don’t want to hear about your mistakes from anyone else, so as soon as you mess up, you let me know. That way I can have your back, and we’re both in good shape when questioned. This is how you show you are trustworthy on this team.

As far as you are concerned, your goals come second to the team goals. Don’t worry about who get’s credit for what on this team. We all share in the credit, and your hard work will be noted, appreciated, and rewarded. We are an actual team, so if you see another team member who needs help, just jump right in and help them. I would rather hear you ask for forgiveness than wait and ask for permission! Sometimes things will go sideways, and that’s expected… just make sure I hear about it from you.

I hired you because I believe in you! I am happy to have you on the team, and I know you are going to be successful here. The best thing you can do is be the best worker on the team. You will show enthusiasm for your job; no matter what task you are asked to do. We are all committed to keeping our floor clean and safe, so if you see a mess, you own it. We all cooperate and sweep and mop the floor; we all pick up trash; we all empty trash cans; we all apologize for the mistakes of others to keep our customers happy; we all show a sense of urgency… that means work as if you owned the store! We all take pride in our work, and we leave every workspace better than we found it. And you know… if I didn’t think you were up for all of this we wouldn’t be having this conversation… I know you are fully capable of meeting every one of my expectations.

I also expect you to stay aware of what’s going on around the store. There are bulletin boards for important information, and I expect you to read them and stay up on what’s going on. When you come to work you will connect with the person leaving, and/or your supervisor to see where we are, what needs to be done, and what the priorities are today. You will remind yourself that we are all doing the very best we can, so when you arrive and things aren’t in perfect shape, you will know that the person before you did the very best they could. You will do the same. When you get to work, you will get right to work. We are not here to chat up the girls, get a date, or find a new friend. You might see people from other teams doing that, and that is not what we do. After break or lunch we get arrive on time, and get back to work. Other team members are relying on us, and we do not want to let them down. Remember, you are an important part of the team!

At the beginning of your shift, after speaking to the other team members, you will make a plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If you are not sure how to proceed, ask! You will make your plan based on that days priorities, and the advice of your supervisor. You may have to alter your plan depending on the changing needs of the department, so work hard to make as much progress on high priority items as you can.

You will do your best to remember all of the instructions you are given, and it’s OK to write them down. Remember, it’s expected that you will make mistakes… it’s not OK to repeat them. I trust you to use whatever tools you need in order to make your plan, remember your instructions, and get the job done. We try to make sure you have everything you need to do your job. In the short-term, I know you will do your best to improvise and do whatever you need to do to get the job done. Long term, you will speak up and let us know when you need tools or supplies. You are not expected to do without, and we need you to help be our eyes and ears.

You will, in time, experience problems or difficulties here. That too is expected. I know you realize that all problems are solvable, and you are the key to that. How you see problems will either allow you to see a solution, or see them as a wall. On this team, I expect you will find solutions. If you can fix it yourself, do it! If you cannot, I expect you to speak up about the problem and present your ideas for solutions. Talking about a problem without suggesting a solution is just complaining, and that is not allowed on this team.

What makes this a high performing team? It’s people like you! I only hire the best I can find, and I am very happy to have you on this team. I am very confident that you are going to make me very proud, and I’m looking forward to introducing you to the rest of the team. I know that you realize that you are responsible for your success on this team… that is will be your hard work, your intelligence, and you pushing yourself to achieve great things that will ultimately make you the success you will be here. It won’t be easy, and I know you will stick with it and earn the respect of the rest of the team.

My commitment to you? Well… I will be brutally honest with you.   I will do my best to give you 5 or more compliments for every constructive piece of feedback. And… I will give you a lot of feedback. We will meet and talk about once a month. I’m looking forward to helping you achieve your goals, and the only way to do that is if we keep in contact and build a strong relationship. You will get a scheduled performance review every 6 months; however there will be no surprises. In our conversations we will discuss the things you are doing well, along with the things you need to improve upon. I will help you in every way I can, and I feel I am as responsible as you are for your success or failure.

I guarantee that I will make mistakes, and… I will admit them. I will be transparent with you… there are no secrets on our team.   If you have an issue or problem with another team member, I will do my best to resolve it to everyone’s satisfaction. I do not play favorites, nor do I take sides. And equitable resolution is the only outcome I will work towards. I will back you up when you try something new and it goes sideways. I will give you all of the credit for your successes, and I will accept the blame for our failures. My overarching goal is the success of the team in achieving its goals, and secondly in helping each of you achieve your personal goals.

I will communicate positively and genuinely, and I will listen to understand. I will do my best to be humble, and show gratitude for everything we achieve, as well as for each of you and what you can teach me.

I also promise to fail here and there, and to let you down once in a while. I hope by then we have a strong enough relationship that you will accept me with my failings, and we will move forward as a team. Here is my cell #. If you have any questions, you will call me.

So… yeah… something like that. When that person goes home and talks about the new job, how are they likely to describe it? Are the going to be excited about it? Or is it probably just another crappy job? I’ve found that without this indoctrination, the latter is probable. With the indoctrination, people show up for work excited, happy, and enthusiastic… off to a good start. The rest is up to me in how I train them, and how I continue to build that relationship.

Have you done anything like this? What are your experiences?

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What Does Your Turnover Say About Your Hiring?

I worked almost all of my adult life managing/Leading teams in restaurants and retail stores. The average retail turnover hovers between 60% and 100%, often higher in restaurants. Does your turnover fall into that average range?

Then I would suggest if your turnover is average, your hiring is average at best. If you’re good with that… average hiring, average workers, average performance, well… good luck with that!

If you are not satisfied with your turnover, what can you do about it? For one thing you must make an honest assessment of your hiring. I haven’t figured it out yet, and I have yet to meet one person who will admit that they are not good at hiring. It’s hard to find anyone who will even say that they could use some help at hiring, even when it is obvious that they are not very good at hiring. Why is that?

Almost everyone will admit that they are not great golfers, tennis players, or dancers; that we would love a personal trainer, would think about taking a cooking class, or looking back, wish there had been parenting classes. No one would think of going skydiving, scuba diving, or even driving a car without some minimal lessons. Yet pretty much no one is willing to admit that they aren’t great at hiring, and might be able to use some help.

Since we agree that our turnover is average, then our hiring cannot be better than average, right?! And are all of our teams’ high functioning teams, full of superstars? No? Then how do we justify our thoughts about our hiring skills? On what do we base the belief that we are good at hiring people?

It takes an honest person to admit that while they are doing the best they can, they are not achieving the results they want. And isn’t that what the facts are telling us about our hiring? Someone taught you what they knew about hiring, and off you went… doing what you could to hire the best people you could find.

But where is the feedback? In order for us to get better at something we need feedback. How’s about an example… I hope it makes sense.

If I gave you a bow and some arrows, stood you 20 yards away from a target, and gave you 2 weeks to practice, even without any coaching you would get better because you get feedback with every shot. You could try different techniques, and since you could see how each change affected your accuracy, you would get better pretty quickly. You might never win any competitions, and you could certainly get better.

Now what if I put a sheet between you and the target? We’d hire a kid to collect your arrows and return them to you, so you never see where your shots hit… you’d never get any feedback… If you don’t get to see where your arrows hit, you never know if any changes you made had a positive or negative affect on your shooting. Do you think after 2 weeks, or even 2 years you would get any better? No… how could you?

When it comes to our hiring, I believe we put a sheet between our hiring efforts and the results of those efforts. Some of you are asking what in the world I mean by that, aren’t you? Well… I mean that since hiring is not like math… there is no perfect right and wrong… there is no one agreed upon right way to hire, we hire the way we were taught to hire. We do what we were told would work, and we expect that it works. And it’s easy for us to go on thinking that we’re doing a great job hiring, because the results of our efforts are so far removed from the effort. That distance between our hiring and the success or failure of the person is the sheet that keeps us from connecting our efforts with the end result.

We find and interview candidates; we choose one and hire her. We feel that she is qualified, has the skills we need, and should be a good fit here. Then what happens? Someone else takes our new hire off to her job. How is she treated there? We can guess, and hope… and we cannot really know for sure whether she is welcomed and encouraged, or if she is looked at as an intruder and ignored. We just don’t know what perception she has of her new workplace. How does her boss treat her? Is he or she a real Leader who will build a strong, trusting relationship with her, or is our new hire facing an insecure bully who is afraid of strong women? We can’t know for sure.

So, we see how easy it is to separate our hiring from the outcome. It’s not our hiring skills; it’s her… she lied about her qualifications. It’s not our hiring skills; it’s that Leader… he’s a bully and can’t keep anyone. It’s not our hiring skills… you see where this is going. Even if we don’t consciously think these thoughts, it’s how the human mind works. The success or failure of the new hire is too far removed from our hiring to make it easy for us to objectively judge our efforts. So we don’t… we just think we’re doing great, and it’s never out hiring that was at fault.

And… back to the original thought… if our turnover is average, we have to admit that our hiring is average at best. That is all of the feedback we need. If we continue doing everything the same way, we will continue to get the same results.

If we want different results we have to change the way we hire. Would you agree?  Disagree?  Either way, if you find this discussion interesting, you might want to read Why You Should Hire For What You Can’t Train.

Perhaps another time we can talk about all of the reasons team Leaders should do their own hiring, hmmm…?

Oh… and if you like my blog, please ‘like’ my Facebook page. The button is just up there at the top right. I dare you to click it!

If you’re the Leader, You’re the Lid.

I first learned about this concept from John C. Maxwell, and have tried to teach it to my apprentices over the years.  This article states the problem, and how to move past it in very simple terms.


If you’re the Leader, You’re the Lid.

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