Investing In New Staff Members: Some Tips & Tricks by Dave Staughton

In the early 1980’s, my dad ran tearooms in the Dandenong Ranges. He taught me his special technique for hiring staff called the “warm body recruitment strategy” – If you had a pulse you were in. Anyone could turn up at the front door of the business asking for a job and he would hire them. With no interview, no induction and no training they were unleashed on the unsuspecting customers. Generally speaking, this was a disaster – most people lasted a few hours, a few days or a few weeks. Meanwhile, the customers had the “Fawlty Towers” Experience in real life and the business struggled.

Staff can be the best investment you ever make or your biggest nightmare.  Given the high cost of hiring, training and the impact on teamwork & client relationships some HR people have estimated the cost of hiring and losing a staff member at more than $50,000. At first I didn’t believe this until I started consulting and found it to be true!

Here are some of the many techniques for hiring great staff:

  • “One hour of good recruiting is worth hundreds of hours of trouble later”. So spend your time, check references and hire wisely – “Hire in haste repent at leisure”.  Avoid desperation hiring.
  • The team is a reflection of the mindset of the boss – Poor Leadership behaviour loses good staff and a negative attitude repels good applicants. Don’t pick applicants you really dislike.  “You get the staff you deserve and you get what you put up with.”
  • If you can’t attract decent applicants – rewrite your ad, advertise more widely or overhaul your workplace culture. Remember – “A choice of one is no choice – don’t hire the best of a bad bunch”
  • Pick the best applicant for the role – If you want High performers and leaders then you may want to choose a PhD – the Poor, hungry and Driven – many coming from offshore at the moment – however, some high performers are unstable and only last a short time.
  • Hire for work ethic – One large bank I know prefers leaders that are first born children of immigrant families.  Sometimes a “solid follower” is more stable in the long run than a prima donna. Learn about behavioural profiling (DISC analysis)
  • Most people make promises, tell lies and embellish the truth in job interviews. The best indicator of a good employee is their performance in the first 90 days. This is the best behaviour you are likely to see. If they aren’t right, admit defeat and terminate inside the probation period. “If in Doubt – Chuck em out” and always do reference checking.
  • Provide a great induction and training. You are paying to train your staff on the job and it costs you the time of the new one, their staff buddy and the impact of mistakes on your clients. Get you act together, create a training process and run an induction course like “90 days to greatness”.
  • Avoid selling them the job – Instead paint it black!  – Tell your candidates how you run a disciplined workplace, be upfront about your house rules and clear on your expectations. Good leaders use ‘tough love’ – a steel fist in a velvet glove approach and it works!

Last night I was watching an episode of a TV Show called “World’s strictest parents” about a couple of Australian kids who were totally out of control. They were sent to Florida to spend a week with totally different parents. The impact of the shifting to a disciplined environment was dramatic. In fact it was unbelievable! The behavioural change from angry, unruly, unproductive teenager to mature, caring and performing individual was astonishing. And clearly demonstrated the value of having an environment with discipline, rules, consequences, expectations and love.

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