Tips for Hiring and Developing

Throughout my career one of the most difficult aspects has been hiring, developing and sometimes firing — with the latter coming very rarely throughout my career.

The first two, I feel proud to day, have been frequent. I’ve worked people looking to begin their careers as well as those that are seasoned veterans. I’ve instructed everything from sales to editorial. While I have more than a decade of experience in doing this, I still feel that I struggle with it every day. Is it possible that hiring and developing are the two most difficult aspects of operating a business?

As I’ve continually pondered how to better both, I’ve come up with some strategies that help me and I think could help others. I’ve broken them down into 10 tips altogether, five for hiring and five for developing — although I will say I believe my developing tips are better than my hiring:
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HIRING:

 

  1. You have to spend time developing quality questions. I spend time before every interview researching questions other professionals have used trying to figure out what gives you the best answers and what challenges the individual the most for what I’m looking for.
  2. Understand what you’re looking for. When I hire for sales I typically am a little standoffish at first. I make people work to get a phone call with me. The reason for this is that most, if not all, of our sales are by phone and email. Many times the individuals we call on are extremely busy, which means you won’t be able to get them on the phone. I think this showcases a skill for explaining coherently what you’re looking for and what you want in writing, which can be a difficult skill.
  3. For editorial it’s very different. I look at a ton of previous work samples and where they’ve worked in the past. I also ask a lot of questions about their career aspirations, desires for the job and what they’d like to see from a future company. This tells me if they are a go-getter, someone that is willing to think outside the box and someone that will help us grow.
  4. Back to sales I play a lot of games, but one that is most valuable is asking someone to sell me on our product. You might be thinking, but what if they’ve never sold marketing before? Well, that’s sort of the point. Have they asked me enough questions up to this point to have an idea of what we do, have they taken notes and how do they sell in general. Sales is all about building relationships. You’ve got to make contact with individuals and ask questions. Additionally, you need to be able to carry on conversation with just about anyone. I feel that we can teach our options, but you’ve got to be able to talk to me before you can sell me.
  5. Lastly I ask questions about themselves. I’ve found over the years that even if a person seems great for a job, his personal life might make him a ticking time bomb. There aren’t really right answers to this segment as being married, single, have kids or don’t, won’t tell you really what you want to know. I think it’s important to know their age, what they’ve done up to that point, what their hobbies are and what they like to do on the weekend. We’ll talk about red flags in a later post, but just use your imagination of what a self destructive individual might do that could carry over to your own business.

 

DEVELOPMENT:

 

  1. The beginning is the toughest. Either your company has the positioned designed out with step-by-step instructions to complete the job, or it doesn’t. Unless you were developed by someone out of a fortune 500 company, or have been around the block a few times, then you probably have to go into teaching mode. At this point my recommendation is slow and steady. Encouraging questions and going over topics multiple times will save you a lot of time down the road.
  2. Conveying your desires is very important. A lot of us have a tendency to under exemplify our desires for a role. You might say, “Grain is usually shoveled around 6-6:30 a.m.” But what you really mean is that you want the grain shoveled at 6 a.m. That’s perfectly fine and the person you hired will be OK with that. However, if you don’t convey that information up front, you’ll end up frustrated, backtracking and potentially losing some trust from your new employee.
  3. You HAVE to do regular check ups. I know some of you hire veterans in the industry and you both have an understanding of how you want things done. However, good employers everywhere know that every business and every job is different. You probably started your brewery because you wanted to see things done differently — you may have a leadership role and you want to see things done different. By having weekly, monthly or quarterly check ups, you’ll be able to explain what you like or what you’d like to see more of, and they’ll be able to do the same. They can take five minutes or five hours, but they need to happen so everyone stays on the same page.
  4. Listening, while it should be number one, comes down to number four in development. The reason it’s in number four in development is because in developing employees, you should be doing a lot of the leading and explaining. However, you’ll eventually reach a point when someone asks a question. You shouldn’t use the question to go on a tangent, but rather to listen to exactly what their asking and answer with detail before you move on. It would be favorable as well if you’d take down the question as a note so that you can go back later on and see if that question is still a question.
  5. Don’t ever assume in developing an employee. Personally, in working with journalists that have degrees, some better than my own, I’ve been known to assume that they know what they’re doing. When that occurs, I then discover in a few weeks or months that they had to ask someone else because I assumed they knew what they were doing. It’s hard for new employees to show that they don’t understand. They want you to have faith and trust in them. While that’s completely fine, it’s vital that you ask a lot of questions of your employee when you assign tasks rather than just shooting them orders and expecting top results. If you follow the latter, you might get lucky, but you might end up a frustrated employer with an employee job searching when they get home.

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