“I just can’t find good employees. Nobody wants to work for a dollar anymore. Thank goodness for Joey. He’s my top producer. Customers love him and he delivers top sales every month. If I could clone him, I would! He is one in a million.”
My pal Vince owns a Heating and AC company. He’s been interviewing for salespeople and so far nobody has made the cut.
I responded,“Gosh, if Joey is one in a million, it will take you a million applicants to find him again! You are looking for a superstar. Instead of trying to find one, why not try to……create one?”
“I don’t have time for that! I am a busy man! Where are the self-starters?
When I was a kid, I worked 12 hours a day for $1.25 an hour! I was grateful to be working.”
“Yeah, yeah…and you walked six miles to school and back every day, uphill each way.”
“How did you know?” Vince shot back.
Poor Vince. He is looking for a superstar that looks and acts like his ace, Joey. It would be even better if he could find a person like…Vince! He won’t find one. Unfortunately, he will overlook dozens of terrific applicants while he grouses about “kids today” and a “total lack of work ethic.”
Do you relate to Vince? Are you wondering where all the great employees are? My friend, you don’t need a superstar. You need a willing and basically capable individual. Then, you can work together to help that new person deliver superstar performance. Here’s the formula…
- What do you need done? Write a job description. EXACTLY, what needs to be done? Be specific and write down responsibilities and behaviors. Don’t write, “We are looking for someone with a great attitude.” A great attitude is often the result of a job well done. Define the job first.
- Create a real training program. Following another employee around for a few days doesn’t count as training. From the job description, write down all the skills needed to succeed at the job. How can you teach someone those skills? Product knowledge, technical procedures, communication, sales skills – these things can be learned. Don’t look for a “born salesman.” Can you imagine a hospital hiring a “born brain surgeon?” Determine how you want the job done. It’s your company. Lay out the training plan in checklist form. Vow to fully train every new hire. The key to a successful company is regular folks operating in extraordinary systems. NOT superstars overcompensating for a lack of systems.
- Hire the “willing and capable” applicant. Forget the superstar. Hire someone willing to play the game your way. You can train him! You see, the Joeys – the superstars – can hold you hostage. My pal Vince thinks he will go out of business if Joey ever quits. So when Joey shows up late, or won’t put his sales statistics up on the scoreboard, Vince looks the other way. Is your superstar holding you hostage? Are you lowering your standards to accommodate him? You don’t need Joey. You need “willing and capable.”
TIP! If you are willing to spend the first two weeks elbow-to-elbow with your new hire, you will know if they are willing and have the core skills necessary to be successful. (Note, that the better your training program, the less skills required at hiring time.) So often we hire someone, abandon them, then complain about them for years. Spend time upfront making sure this person is a good fit for you and the company. Make sure they can win, or let them go if they are not going to. You will know if you invest a little time upfront.
- Hold every employee accountable. Using behavioral and financial benchmarks, keep track of each employee’s performance. Keep score. This way, you will know who is doing well. Great! Reward him! You’ll also learn who is struggling. That’s fine too. Help him get better. You can make him successful, if he is ready and willing, because you have a training program!
- Give each new hire a fair shake. Train ‘em. Use the checklists. Play it straight with every new hire.
You don’t need one in a million. You need one person who is willing to learn, able to go. There are millions of people like that. If you are looking for Mr. or Ms. Perfect, it’s time for you to create a training program. If you are compromising your integrity to hang on to your superstar, it’s time for you to set standards and hold people accountable.
Then, if your superstar leaves, you won’t go out of business. You and your new hires can develop a whole new team of superstars. What a nice thing to do for a living.