In his book The Roadmap to Freedom, peak performance expert Chris McIntyre describes how to build a core team of superstars that will help you lead your company to the next level. In this edited excerpt, the author describes his six-step process for finding, hiring and keeping superstar employees.
How solid is your current hiring process? One of the best ways to get the right talent on board is to have a trusted hiring process in place. Here's a six-step process you can adopt as is or tailor to meet your needs.
Step 1: Define the Knowledge, Skills, and PEAs (People Skills, Work Ethics, and Attitudes)
You probably have a good sense of the hard objectives you expect your applicants to achieve, such as a certain percent increase in sales, a certain number of products produced per month, or manage x number of people in accomplishing y tasks. Every successful small business should have its basic business metrics and key measures.
You'll also need to have a strong sense of the critical soft skills you expect from employees. Getting the best out of your superstars means expecting and measuring all critical success factors. By knowing all the necessary elements for success in a particular position, you can draft the position description.
Related: Tips for Hiring the Best Employees
Step 2: Require a Strategic Cover Letter
When you publicize your description of the position, request a cover letter that requires candidates to research your company. Ask two or three open-ended questions that would require candidates to dig into your website or otherwise research your organization.
Here are a few examples of good, strategic cover letter questions:
- How do you see yourself relating to our core values? Why?
- What is it about our history that you most identify with? Why?
- Which of our products are you most excited about? Why?
Unlike a resume, a strategic cover letter addresses questions specific to your organization. A strategic cover letter can weed out 30 percent of the potential candidates who just won't invest the extra effort to respond. Of those who do respond, 30 to 40 percent will probably disqualify themselves with incorrect grammar and poor attention to detail, such as not answering your strategic questions. That could leave you with only the top 30 percent to consider for the next phase of your job hunt.
Step 3: Assemble a Hiring Panel
What if you happen to be a CEO who doesn't have access to a panel of superstars? You might consider asking a few of your most trusted vendors, suppliers and contractors for their confidential assistance in your hiring process. I've also seen small-business owners contract with management consulting companies for their temporary and confidential assistance with their hiring process.
You might also try a staffing agency. Some staffing agencies can actually serve as a panel in your hiring process. Good agencies can offer expert interviewers and help you focus your position description, PEAs and cover letter questions.
Step 4: Dig Into the Resumes
Divvy up the remaining resumes along with your requirements for the position. Have the panel members take a week or so to pick their top five preferences and prepare a blurb or two on why they chose their candidates.
Be sure your panel defines the "why" as well. That can help crystallize position requirements and clues about your culture. Then get the panel back together to review the blurbs and tally the votes for all potential hires. Hash out some kind of consensus on the top few candidates to bring in for an interview.
Related: A Lie-Detector Test for Resumes
Step 5: Win the Interview
Rally the panel and conduct the interviews. Agree in advance which questions will be asked of all interviewees, and stick firmly to them. Straying from your pre-determined questions can skew the dynamics of each interview.
Immediately after each interview, have panel members take the time individually to record their thoughts and numerically rate each interviewee. If you or the panel members run right off to the next activity without accomplishing this, you'll likely forget noteworthy subtleties that might have been the difference maker.
Reconvene the panel immediately after everyone has had some time for individual assessments, and combine comments and ratings on a scorecard. Scorecards can help you split hairs in competitive hiring situations.
Related: Avoid These Interview Mistakes
Step 6: 90-Day Check-In
Check in with your new hire after 90 days of employment specifically about their overall new-hire experience. That's usually enough time for you to have a good sense of an employee's overall capability and work ethic and offer feedback directly related to all the key skills you hired them to deliver. Pull out the job description, and offer specific examples of how they are hitting the right target -- or missing it, as the case may be.
Be sure to ask how you can better support the employee in doing their job. Ask for feedback on their initial experiences and on your functional processes. There's nobody better to help you see your process inefficiencies than qualified new folks, so take advantage of their fresh perspectives about your organization. They may have great feedback on needlessly complicated internal and external processes.
Chris McIntyre is the author of The Roadmap to Freedom: A Small-Business Owner's Guide to Connecting People to a Core Message (Entrepreneur Press, 2012). He is a motivational speaker, executive coach and consultant focused on peak productivity. He is based in San Diego, Calif.