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Good House Rules Lead to Good Hires

March 9, 2017

When I became a first-time dog owner, I went out and bought a dog training book. One of the things I learned was just because a dog is small, and maybe even cute, doesn’t mean it should be allowed to jump on furniture and people at will. Pet owners are usually more conscientious about training large dogs because it’s an obvious no-no for a 100-pound canine to jump on small children and frail adults. But small dogs often get away with bad manners because they don’t really hurt anyone; they just come across as rude or pesky. A good pet owner identifies the house rules early, preferably before Fido comes home to live, no matter the size of the dog.

Having worked with many small businesses, it strikes me that many small business owners approach running their businesses like some small pet owners approach training. They figure their business is small. They don’t need a lot of big-company rules and bureaucratic processes. In fact, one reason you may have started your own business was to get away from the corporate mumbo-jumbo!

However, once you become an employer, you have certain responsibilities regardless of the size of your business. Hiring the right people and effectively managing them is one of the most important duties you have as a small business owner. Just because you’re “small” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a pre-defined hiring process you apply consistently to each and every candidate.

As a small business owner, you can commit to taking the time to hire the right people. And the first step in hiring the right person for any job is to define what you need done. Take your time to really evaluate what you need help with most desperately, then put it in writing. Create a job description that defines:

  • why the job exists (its purpose)
  • the responsibilities essential to fulfilling the job’s purpose
  • the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to get the job done

Make sure you know the market value for the type of job you’ve defined. The market value is defined in large part by the knowledge, skills, and abilities required by successful incumbents. Knowing the cost of the job you’ve defined will help you decide whether or not you can afford it. The “perfect” candidate isn’t the right candidate, if you can’t afford him or her. Knowing what a job is worth allows you to approach candidates from a position of knowledge, not desperation.

After you’ve defined the job and approximate cost, take the time to define the type of person you want working with you. While multiple candidates may have the knowledge/skills/abilities you need at a price you can afford, they may not be the right fit for your small business. Think about the culture you want to create or foster in your organization. What personal qualities will make the candidate a good fit? What personality traits should the person exhibit? Think of those with whom you’ve worked well in the past. What made your working relationship successful? Do not hire yourself! Remember, opposites attract.

Having spent time up front identifying your company’s needs, creating a written job description, pricing the job to the relevant job market, and defining the character/personality traits of the ideal candidate, you can execute the recruitment process with confidence, like a true professional. When you take time to establish the right house rules for your small business, you’ll wind up making the right hire.