Human Resource Management

Jim Stewart of ProfitPATH

When should I start to hire employees?

If your business is fairly new and sales and profits are still low and cash is tight, delay hiring employees for as long as possible. Employees bring statutory deductions, reporting requirements and other compliance issues with them, visit Canada Revenue Agency website for more information. Those, plus any problems which can arise if employees don't perform well, can take large amounts of time and effort away from your top priority - building up your new business.

When you first need extra help consider using a Virtual Assistant to take the routine tasks off your shoulders. Consider using co-op students from college or university. Then use sub-contractors for as long as possible (once you've seen what the sub-contractors can do you may even decide to make them your first permanent employees).

How do I find people when I want to hire them?

The best way to recruit is to always be looking for the right people. Even if you don't have a job for them now, remember them for later. Ask your best employees and best suppliers for recommendations. Why ask the best employees and suppliers - because they'll recommend people with similar values to their own. You need the right skills and experience but you also want employees who share the same values - for example, initiative and hard work - as you do.

If you use recruiters don't use anyone on an "exclusive" basis - at least until they've proved they can find the people who fit into your company. Good recruiters are worth their fees. If you're going to advertise yourself - either on-line or off - be prepared to be swamped with resumes.

How do I pick the best candidate?

Check resumes carefully. Look for breaks between jobs, for short stays with multiple employers. Ask to see college and university diplomas and degrees. Always check references, there are a couple of key questions to ask them.

Take time to prepare for the interview. Ask questions that ask for specific examples of tasks that you will want the employee to perform. Don't ask questions like "What do you like about your current job?" Rather ask questions like "Give me an example of an improvement you made in your last job".

How much should I pay people?

There are a number of organizations which can give you information about wage and salary levels. Many recruiters now offer the results of their own research - often as part of their service. Industry associations, for example the Canadian Professional Sales Association, conducts an annual compensation survey which is available to members. Some Boards of Trade/Chambers of Commerce may have information or be able to direct you to someone who does. But those you'll probably have to pay for.

Think about linking some of their compensation to the company's performance, for example profit sharing or bonuses.

How do I keep good people from leaving?

Have a detailed list of the things they're responsible for (Job Description). Have a training program for new employees which covers their jobs and how you do things in your company. Check with them at the end of every day for the first week.

Encourage them to bring suggestions for solving the problems they'll bring you. Act on their suggestions. Keep them informed about how the company's doing against its goals. Carry out a performance review for each employee at least once a year. But don't wait until the performance review to give them feedback - good or bad.

There are other things, but start with these and you won't go far wrong.

How do I deal with staff who cause difficulties?

First, be clear about what is and is not acceptable behavior and performance. Ensure every employee knows and understands what the rules and guidelines are and what the consequences of breaking them will be.

Poor behavior or performance must be tackled as soon after it takes place as possible. Think about what you're going to say and then sit the employee down in a quiet place. Ask them to tell you why they behaved as they did/their performance is the way it is. Listen carefully to what they say.

Why is it that things are only done properly if I do them or check them?

Try this approach. When you want an employee to do something, explain what has to be done, the standard to which it has to be done and the deadline for completion. Don't ask the employee if they understand - they'll say yes because they don't want to appear foolish in front of the boss. Rather ask them if they foresee any problems. If they say yes, don't tell them how to solve the problems - ask them how they'll solve the problems. Keep asking questions until you're satisfied they know what to do. Then check in on them at regular - but not frequent - intervals until the job is done. As they gain your confidence you can reduce the number of times you check in on them.

Remember, it doesn't matter how they do what you need done, all that matters is that they do it to the standard you require. And one final point, when they've finished, thank them and tell them they did a great job!

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