I know it’s only the beginning of March, but college and university students have been lining up their summer internships as I write this blog. On the surface, many small business owners consider interns, particularly unpaid interns, a great way to get those unwanted tasks completed in the office. However, interns can help a small business but only in certain situations. In this blog, I will discuss those situations where an intern may or may not be beneficial to your business.
Do You Have the Time To Train an Intern?
An intern may be a great option for you if you have a specific project that you haven’t had time to do, or a new customer relationship management (CRM) tool you haven’t had time to research. However, before you jump on the intern bandwagon, consider more than the “low-cost extra help” viewpoint, and look at an intern as a training opportunity for them. This will require you or a dedicated experienced staff member to be available to train the intern, and the special project should have defined goals and measurable outcomes for interns to complete. You’ll need to ensure internships are relevant to the students’ career interests and that supervisors and mentors will be available to provide regular feedback and evaluation. To make the most of the experience for both your business and the intern, clear directions and proper training need to be provided. This is particularly the case if the intern is being provided through an educational institution.
Need a Fresh Set of Eyes?
Interns are typically young and eager to learn and therefore usually are bursting with ideas. They approach the job with a more open mindset, rather than someone from another department with set habits and preconceived ideas on how to do certain tasks. Be sure to include the intern in brainstorming sessions and encourage them to speak up in meetings, as their fresh ideas and approaches can be great for your business. However, implementing their ideas may be best suited for your current staff as they have a better understanding of the businesses processes and protocols and accountability.
What are Your Business’ Long-Term Plans?
If your business also has long-term plans to expand, an intern might be the first step in that process. Consider any recurring projects that are about 12 weeks in duration, or your regular use of contractors for overflow projects or tasks; these could all be completed by an intern. When you consider adding an intern, a person who is bursting with new ideas and is plugged in to the latest technologies, who knows what they may come up with – perhaps an idea that changes and improves the way you do business!
Determining if your business needs could use an intern can be challenging for many business owners, and one I often see as a business advisor with TAB. If your business would benefit from the guidance of other business owners who have “been there”, as well as an advisor who has “done that”, contact me to see how I can help!
As a small business owner, it’s so important to find the right people for your team. I have spoken with small business owners who are thrilled to see their employees go above and beyond to improve the business. They say they never knew that an employee was so dedicated, or that someone exceeded even their highest expectations. But sometimes, and more often than you’d expect, businesses hire the wrong person and end up suffering certain consequences, which include:
- Lost time and lost productivity – We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money,” and hiring the wrong person will cost a business both in training time, and in restarting the hiring process again once they’re gone.
- An unhappy team and workplace – A difficult employee can put pressure on the rest of the team, who must pick up his or her slack, and deal with extra work and stress that they might find unfair.
So, how do we go about dealing with a bad hire? I always try to keep some important questions in mind:
- Is the employee in the right role? In some cases, the person just isn’t a good fit for their role, but they may still be a good fit within the business. Consider speaking with the employee and changing their role, as that may lead to a happier and more productive employee and team.
- Are problems arising from simple mistakes, or cutting corners? Mistakes are part of the learning curve, especially for new employees. It’s possible that the employee has made correctable errors, rather than demonstrate a character flaw.
- Does the employee fit with the company culture? In the end, if the employee is not a good fit within the workplace, it’s best to let them go. Cut your losses early with a bad hire, so that you can save your time and money on finding a better fit, and a more productive employee.
Now that you’ve dealt with a troublesome hire, how do you go about finding the right person? Here are some tips you may want to consider when reviewing possible candidates:
- Do your research. It’s a given that you do your research on each candidate beforehand, but take a closer look at their resume, LinkedIn profile, and references. Note any gaps in employment or any ambiguous points on their resume, and check their online presence on websites like Facebook and Twitter.
- Go beyond the obvious. Ask the candidate questions that go beyond their resume and cover letter. Their answers may reveal more about their personality, and the rapport you build with them may show if they’re a good fit within your company culture.
As a small business owner, hiring is one of the many tasks you have to dedicate time to, and though it may be tiring, finding the right team members will be best for your business in the long run. If you’d like to learn more from other small business owners on hiring, and many other strategies, contact me today!
Every day, thousands of millennials are entering the workforce for the first time. Now, many small business owners are considering hiring these individuals and asking what they need to consider before they opt to hire them.
There is no denying that the millennial generation is much different than the generation of workers that has come before them. This means that as a small business owner, you’ll need to make some changes to your business culture in order to accommodate the very unique needs of this particular group.
I’ve outlined a few key items you might want to consider before hiring millennial workers to ensure success for both your company and your potential millennial hire.
Millennial workers, unlike any other generation before them, are keen on the idea of having office hours that suit their personal needs. How flexible are you willing to be with your office hours? When interviewing potential millennial candidates, ask about their work schedule expectations. If you run a business that can only accommodate the hours of 9am to 5pm, then you can expect a millennial may not find your opening suitable to them.
- Millennials want to be valued
Millennials need a great deal of validation from and communication with their supervisor/manager to let them know how they are doing, and to give them praise (preferably in a group setting) when they have done a good job. In the workplace, this may require more of your time and attention. They want to be noticed for their work and you will need to be available to give them ongoing feedback. Do you have the time to provide them with ongoing feedback and praise? If not, a millennial may not feel valued in your office.
- Company Culture
Millennial workers are expecting an inclusive and exciting company culture that promotes social relationships and fosters innovation. If you have other millennial staff, or see your company hosting social nights or team-building activities, a millennial might fit in well. Their need to work and collaborate with a team is key to their success. Is your office made up of employees aged 45+? If so, a millennial worker might feel like an outsider and have trouble fitting in.
There is no doubt this new generation of workers are the future of business, and they have so much to offer, but we need to learn how to accommodate their needs if we are to add them to our workforce.
One of the biggest challenges I have seen many small business owners struggle with is that of delegation. Most owners started their businesses on their own being the person who does everything and so letting go or delegating can be difficult from many angles. Let’s face it, if you continue to do everything, then why do you have staff and how can you ever hope to grow your business?
Delegation means letting go of the day-to-day tasks associated with that responsibility, but by no means does it mean completely letting go of that responsibility. In other words, if you have hired a sales person to take on the responsibility of sales for your company, although you may not be making the sales calls, you do need to ensure that your sales person has the right sales processes, sales metrics and that they are in fact the right person for the role.
Without the right processes, metrics and people in place, it’s likely the onus will fall back on you to get things done. Sounds familiar? Letting go isn’t easy, but having a proper delegation structure in place will allow you to focus your energy and resources on building a successful business. Here are my recommendations for effective delegation:
1) Have the right processes
Ensure you have the right processes in place to ensure that the task or responsibility will be done correctly and in accordance with your standards. For example, if you are delegating writing you will need to ensure what type of writing, how much time the writing should take, what structure the writing must have, what approvals are required, what source materials, and how the writing must be started. The process needs to be written down, explained to the person who you are delegating it to, and followed up with by you to ensure the process is being followed.
2) Measure your success
The only way you can truly know if the process is working right is to measure its effectiveness and subsequent success. To measure the success of the objective, you may want to consider KPIs as they are an effective way of measuring key business objectives, as are analytics. There are numerous measurement tools available, so finding the one appropriate for your business is important. Whatever metric you choose should be spelled out and communicated to the person taking on the delegated task or project. They need to understand that they are being measured in their responsibilities.
3) Have the right people
In a previous blog, I discussed the importance of building a solid team. Ensuring you have the right people working for you means that you can delegate appropriate tasks with the confidence they will be completed accurately and efficiently. Trust and communication are two qualities that can make or break a business. In my many years as a business advisor, I’ve witnessed numerous business owners cycle through employees simply because they had the wrong person in the role who was not fully capable of handling the responsibilities despite having the right processes and metrics in place. Invest wisely in securing the right team. With the right team in place, you’ll experience no hesitation in delegating important tasks and responsibilities.
Delegating is what most business owners crave – you want someone or something to take the huge responsibility of doing it all yourself off your shoulders. Have no fear, by ensuring you have the right processes, metrics and people in place will mean you can lessen your load, and free up the much-needed time to do what you have always wanted to do: focus on building your business.
Employee hiring and firing is one of the most time-consuming and costly investments you’ll make as a business owner. It can be a long, drawn-out and sometimes unsuccessful process if you aren’t asking the right questions or looking for the right things. Many of the people I have worked with throughout my 30-plus years in business have improved their success rates by following a formal hiring process. Creating a hiring process that works for your business will prove invaluable to making this daunting task less taxing on your time and budget.
After sorting through resumes, you’ve chosen the most suitable candidates and it’s now time to meet these candidates and interview them.
The first step in the hiring process is the formal interview. Ask questions pertaining to their behaviour and personality, as well as their knowledge and skills. The type of person they are is as important as their skills. Evaluate if this candidate will fit with your vision, your team and the culture of your workplace.
Many businesses stop their process after the interview, but why not include a testing element? The testing element will differ depending on what industry you’re in but what remains the same is the value you will get from it. You will be able to get a true sense of the candidates’ skills and what exactly they will be able to bring to your business. Tests are also a way that you can filter if the person can back up what they say they can do.
Be sure to utilize a test that will give you a real sense of how the person will perform on the job. These could be hands-on, performance-based, or analytical tests. For example, if you are hiring a salesperson, have them present a sales pitch to you, or for an IT candidate, maybe it’s a written test that displays skills that are directly related to certain job duties they’d be performing. This will allow you to get a better sense of the overall capability of this candidate in the role they are applying for.
Score the tests and then determine which candidate you should move forward with to the next step – the reference checks.
I have seen many people show mixed emotions when it comes to reference checks. Some believe they are the most help in making a decision to hire or not to hire and some believe they are just a waste of time. I suggest that in order to make the most of references, you need to make the calls personally and ask the questions you want the answers to. Ask questions about the candidate’s personality and work style, as well as skills. You want open-ended questions that spark discussion, not closed-ended ones that only allow for one-word answers. After all, you want to know if this candidate is right for your business, so use this time wisely with directed questions.
Who you accept as a reference is also an important component of this step. Contacting a relative or friend as a reference will give you the biased answers you don’t want you to hear. Ensure that you make the most of the limited time you have during these calls to find out what your face-to-face interview and test have not already revealed.
The hiring process can be exciting and purposeful. An elevated interview, the addition of a testing element and appropriate reference checks are just some things that can make a world of a difference to your process. Once you’ve found your perfect candidate, what are the best ways for keeping employees? Stay tuned for my next blog that will provide insights on employee recognition and retention.
What procedures have you used during a hiring process? What worked the best? What didn’t work? I look forward to a lively discussion!