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3 Tips to Hire Your Next A-Player Learning how to hire A-players is a skill set that you can acquire. When you know how to attract and hire A-Players, it changes the trajectory of your business.

By Dr. Sabrina Starling

Key Takeaways

  • Every time we mis-hire, we lose confidence in our ability to lead.
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Hiring top talent is the number one challenge in small business. Many business owners I talk to have been burned by bad hires and dread the hiring process. It's understandable. Hiring is highly time-consuming, and most business owners follow traditional hiring practices, which set us up to miss-hire 75% of the time. Every time we mis-hire, we lose confidence in our ability to lead. In this article, I will share three tips for hiring your next A-Player.

Tip #1: Start early with clarity

Don't put off hiring until the last minute. This is a setup for failure. Instead, identify the roles you will need to hire for in the next six months. Start networking now to fill those roles. Go into networking with clarity on the personality strengths needed to deliver the desired results.

When you are in conversation, don't say, "I am looking to hire a salesperson. Who do you know who is looking for a job?" A-Players are rarely looking for jobs. They typically are employed elsewhere. A-Players move from one opportunity to the next via their network. Phrasing the question this way prompts the other person to start thinking about the people they know who are out of work. These likely are not A-Players, and the person you speak with will be reluctant to endorse them.

Instead, say, "I am looking to be connected to individuals who are great listeners. They are good at asking questions to understand the other person's needs. They don't interrupt and easily establish trust with others. They are patient and persistent. They enjoy providing solutions to solve challenges. Who do you know who is like this? Would you be willing to make an introduction?"

Related: 6 Ways to Hire the Talent You Need to Scale Quickly

Tip #2. Become an employer of choice for the A-Players you want to hire

A-Players have a different psychology than the average team member. A-Players are intrinsically motivated, meaning they desire to excel and do a good job. They are motivated by opportunities to learn and grow. Opportunities for advancement are very appealing to A-Players.

Identify what you can offer that would be appealing to an A-Player. What opportunities for training, growth, and advancement do you provide? What do your current A-Players appreciate most about working for you? How can you capitalize on what you are already doing?

From surveying hundreds of A-Players in our client's businesses, I've learned there are two essential qualities A-Players greatly appreciate in employers: flexibility and respect.

Do you offer flexible hours and opportunities to work from home? Do you let your team members take time off to be there for their families? If you provide any of these, highlight them on your social media and Careers Page. Ask a team member to write a testimonial about their experience working for you.

Respect seems so basic, yet it is missing from so many workplaces. Do you speak to team members with kindness and curiosity? Do you seek their input and engage their ideas? Do you trust them to get their work done with minimal interference from you? Do you desire to understand their needs and strive to support them in removing barriers to their work? If so, these are all ways of demonstrating respect. Highlight this on your social media and Careers Page.

Utilize your social media to position yourself as an Employer of Choice. Post weekly about your team members. Celebrate their successes. Highlight their unique contributions. Capture team development opportunities. Share when team members receive praise from your clients or customers.

Tip #3. Identify your immutable laws

Have you ever hired someone who looked good on paper, interviewed well, and had good references, yet you're banging your head against the wall a few weeks into the job? Chances are you hired someone not a good fit for your culture.

Our values drive our culture. Turn your values into your Immutable Laws. Hire based on alignment with your Immutable Laws.

There are two questions to identify your Immutable Laws. What's made you feel proud lately? We feel pride when our actions align with our values. Identify the value that is being honored.

You can also ask, "What's ticked me off?" When we feel anger, it's a sign a core value has been violated.

Brainstorm your three to five Immutable Laws. Share these with your team. Post them on your website and in your office. Use your Immutable Laws as the #1 screening tool during the hiring process. When you determine someone does not hold your Immutable Laws, do not move them forward in your hiring process.

A great interview question is to describe a recent "worst day" experience. Say to the candidate, "I know you don't know our policies and procedures. Walk me through how you would handle this situation if you could not get ahold of your immediate supervisor or me." Listen to the choices they make. This points to their values and will help you determine alignment with your Immutable Laws.

Dr. Sabrina Starling

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

The Business Psychologist

Sabrina Starling, PhD, The Business Psychologist, is the bestselling author of How to Hire the Best and The 4 Week Vacation®. Founder of and host of the Profit by Design podcast, she and her team are on a mission to send 10,000 entrepreneurs on a 4 Week Vacation® in 10 years.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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