What’s the Secret for Finding Good People?

Finding good people is difficult, especially in these days and times.  There is a shortage in the skilled trades and companies tell me frequently that their ads don’t attract them often enough.  I’d like to discuss a different angle to hiring that is rarely mentioned.  Not the ad, not where you place it or even how to interview.  I’d like to discuss what impacts hiring the most, YOU.  Are you and your company set up to attract these individuals?  To find people, it isn’t always necessary to find someone new.  The reality is, many of the good people could have been working with you already, but left.  Or, some may be currently working for someone else.  Have you ever asked yourself, “Why would they want to leave their existing company and come work for me?” Or, “Did I have anything to do with them leaving?”  There is a good quote that relates to the subject:  “People don’t quit companies, they quit people.”  ARE WE the type of person and company that attracts and keeps good people?  If they visited you right now, would they be impressed?  Could they visualize their future with you?  Would they brag about your organization with others and wait by the phone in anticipation…or not?

In order to find and keep good people we can take inventory to determine if we are set up to attract these individuals.  These are a sample of some of the questions you can ask yourself:

  • How do you treat your employees?  Do you treat them like an employee or like someone that you trust?
  • How much training do you offer them?  Do you pay?
  • How involved are you with their work and plan?  How frequently?
  • Do they get “face time” with you on a regular basis?  How often?
  • Do you encourage failure and learning or do you get uptight when they take chances?
  • Do you have goals that they understand and that they have a part in?  Are the goals clearly defined?
  • Do you invest in them, in terms of programs that will better them both professionally AND personally?
  • What does your office look like?  Do they want to spend 10-12 hours per day there?
  • Has support been provided to them in terms of people, process, equipment and the like?
  • Are they part of a team; is mentoring available throughout their employment?

From top to bottom, “good people” want to work in a healthy, supportive environment where they feel like they are making a difference.  They want to be proud to say they work there.  When they talk about work over the weekends, they want to brag and tell great stories about the people and place that they are at all week.  Do they get that from you and your organization?

Companies like Google and Apple have got it down.  We’ve all heard stories about how they treat their employees.  In fact, they don’t even call them “employees”!  They have titles like, “partner”, “relationship specialist”, and even “daily dream-maker” (trust me, I’ve seen it!).  Some will give unlimited vacation time, serve them lunch every day and even bring in magicians for their entertainment (seriously?).  Now, we don’t need billions of dollars and crazy titles to make someone happy.  But, change your culture and you can change who works WITH you (not FOR you – see the difference?), for the better.  

Recently, a client (albeit, in a different industry) complained to me that he was tired of all of the constant hiring and firing he had to do over the last several years.  We decided to change the focus.  His new mantra?  He is a human resources company that happens to own an IT organization.  By simply changing his focus, he now concentrates on how to attract and keep key people, and not simply growing his business.  The result?  His retention of good people has increased dramatically, they enjoy coming to work and his organization has grown, all because of this approach.  Here are some things he does differently now:

  • Daily 10 minute huddles with his key people.  They rotate responsibility of running the meeting daily.
  • Quick walk-arounds each morning with 100% of his team
  • Short regular meetings with my organization to help them with communication
  • A much cleaner office environment & break room
  • A clearly defined goal distributed amongst all employees, with feedback requested, a plan to get there and clearly defined accountability measures to monitor progress (A public chart of progress went up earlier this week in his office)
  • New, updated and larger computer monitors for each employee

By communicating more effectively and allowing team members to feel like they are contributing to the bottom line, they are working harder, and all in the same direction.  Additionally, team members are recommending and introducing other strong individuals into the organization that they know.  Not because they are told to do so, rather because they think they work for an excellent organization and want to spread the word.

Need more ideas to attract and retain people?

  • Allow an opportunity for them to share their career aspirations with you
  • Communicate more with them, and better – this means correct words, body language and tonality (find out if they feel taken for granted)
  • Offer gift cards for special things they do
  • Recognize their start-date anniversaries  
  • Close the office early before a holiday
  • Reward them for a “crazy day” (I’ve heard many owners take their team for granted, saying things like, “well, that’s just the job”)
  • Update your office setting – better lighting, replace the carpeting, remove the clutter, update out of date furniture

Finding good people will always be difficult.  However, I find that some organizations will struggle to ever find the “good one’s”, because of themselves or their organization.  Structuring your organization to accommodate these individuals can be some work, but not as much work as it takes to find these people in the first place!  Lastly, make it your mission to only hire strong individuals.  Be patient, follow some of these guidelines and hire those that will take you where you want to go 5, 10 ,20 years from now.