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The Wealthy Franchisee

This Simple Hand-Written Chart Will Help You Make the Best Hires Creating a hiring matrix will allow you to make hiring decisions based on facts rather than gut feelings.

By Scott Greenberg Edited by Dan Bova

Key Takeaways

  • Hiring requires a great deal of self-discipline. Emotions can cloud your judgment, causing you to overlook good people and hire the wrong people.
  • A hiring matrix will allow you to numerically score a candidate against a list of traits you believe are most important for the job you're trying to fill.
  • It's important for franchisees to focus on finding the most qualified candidate who fits the culture of the business, rather than just going with gut feelings.

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This is part 2 / 4 of The Wealthy Franchisee: Section 4: Hiring and Managing Your Team series.

As with other areas of running your franchise, hiring requires a great deal of self-discipline. Emotions can cloud your judgment, causing you to overlook good people and hire the wrong people. For effective hiring, you need objectivity and clarity of mind. That can't happen until you look inward and recognize your biases. Labor laws protect workers from mistreatment and help level the playing field by prohibiting bias based on what a person "is." That's good for employers as well. It forces them to look beyond stereotypes and consider quality candidates their prejudices might have ruled out. The world is better with less prejudice. It's morally wrong and bad for business. But everyone brings their unconscious preferences into hiring, even with the best intentions. It's easy to take mental shortcuts that lead to inaccurate conclusions.

Psychologists have identified many biases that cause people to rush to judgment. For example, there's the halo effect, where a person clings to one quality they like in someone and disregards everything else. The opposite would be the horn effect, being unable to let go of that one thing you don't like. Focusing too much on the things you have in common with someone is an example of affinity bias. Confirmation bias causes us to seek out others who share the same perspectives. Beauty bias speaks for itself.

I made a lot of mistakes those first few years, but I also got lucky and acquired some winners. Reflecting on these hires over time, both good and bad, helped me refine our hiring practices. By knowing what to look for and exercising more self-control, it became easier to identify the right people and weed out the wrong people.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

Likable Candidates vs. Qualified Candidates

There are four possible outcomes from employee recruiting:

  1. You hire the right person.
  2. You don't hire the right person.
  3. You hire the wrong person.
  4. You don't hire the wrong person.

Your goal is to hire the right people and not hire the wrong people. But most employers don't have a good process for this. They just meet applicants and hire the ones who feel right. "I go with my gut," they often say. If your gut consistently identifies the right people, then keep going — you're doing better than the rest of us. And even if you have good instincts, it's hard to pass them on to your managers.

Likeability is what we look for socially. For a job applicant, we need the most qualified candidate and the best cultural fit. That could include someone who's likable, but that's not enough to go on. Unchecked, our emotions and subjectivity can lead to bad hiring decisions. To minimize this risk, we need to create objective, replicable hiring systems. I recommend using what's called a hiring matrix.

Related: I've Interviewed and Hired Thousands of People. Here's What to Keep in Mind Before Offering the Job.

Using a Hiring Matrix

A hiring matrix will allow you to numerically score a candidate against a list of traits you believe are most important for the job you're trying to fill. The candidate with the highest cumulative score is the one most qualified for the job. The first step is to identify the essential characteristics for each position.

I like to look at my best current and past employees and list the traits they share. Different jobs will require different characteristics. Employees who interact with customers need different qualities than ones who work in the back, for example. For each position you have to fill, what are the most important qualities you need in a person doing that work?

Related: Is It Really That Hard to Find Good Employees?

Once you have your list, decide if any of these qualities are considerably more important than the others. For example, maybe you've noticed your best salespeople are extremely driven. For you, "drive" may be twice as important as other traits, such as "experience." This list of traits is the criteria by which you or your managers will evaluate job candidates. For each trait, you'll assign candidates a score. A simple one to five scoring system works for me, but you may want to go to ten. For any traits you've decided are the most important, double the score.

After the interviews, you can add up the scores and see who has the highest number. Clearly there's still plenty of subjectivity in the process. But at least now you and your managers are focusing on specific traits rather than just deciding if you like the person. If multiple people are evaluating the candidates, you can combine all your scores and use that total to decide whom to hire. (Empathy is by far the most important, so you'll double the score for that one.) Your hiring matrix will look like the example below:

Related: Tips for Overcoming Early HR Hurdles

Another step you could take is to create a standard list of questions that shed light on each of these traits. For example, to check for compassion, you might ask, "How can you tell when someone needs help?" or, "Tell me the steps you go through to provide comfort." For responsibility, you might ask, "Under what circumstances have people depended on you?" You can research the web for other questions associated with just about any trait you can think of. Experiment and see what works best. The farther you can get away from, "Tell me a little bit about yourself," the greater the chance you'll get the information you need.

Change the process however you like, but keep it simple. The overall goal is to move away from likability and broad subjective impressions and focus on what really matters. Spend time on your staffing. Hire slowly and carefully. Your employees are the stewards and ambassadors of your business. You're putting your wealth in their hands, so hold out until you can find truly great people. Then prepare for the most important work you'll do in business — keeping them great.

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