How to Find Good Workers: Hire Them

In my work with small business owners, I hear all the time: “Wendy, I just can’t find good workers.” It’s as if they expect these mythical creatures to materialize before them, fully trained and ready to go. But that’s not how it happens. You don’t find good workers, you hire them. After 25 years as a hiring manager, here’s my approach.

Name the position accurately. Do you need a true admin or an office manager? A bookkeeper or a controller? Keep track of all the duties you want the person to perform. Then figure out whether you’re asking too much—or too little.

Define the duties and expectations: “Read my mind and do what I want” is not a useful job description. Better: “You’ll be our first client contact; you’ll create and maintain a filing system that works.” Is it a quantitative position—production oriented with a high level of monitoring? Or is it more qualitative, less able to be measured? Different roles require different personalities. Don’t be afraid to do a personality assessment—Kolbe, Myers-Briggs, and Elevate are a few of the more popular ones.

Culture fit the candidate. You don’t have a culture? Yes you do. Every organization has a culture. Be self-aware. Are you a jeans, tees, and tats okay as long as the work gets done shop? Or are you a punch the clock you have 60 minutes and not one second more for lunch shop? No judgment—each has its pluses and minuses. The key is to know where you fit on the spectrum, and hire the person who fits with you.

Find out the fair market wage—and beat it. Why? Because you get what you pay for. You want quality, pay for quality. It’s an investment. It doesn’t make sense to replace workers every three months if you can pay a little more to keep them longer.

Finally, use your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t make the hire. You’ll save yourself money and grief in the long run. And isn’t that what good workers always do?