The gift of great hires

The best gift you can offer your business is the talent of great people. Finding employees with the magical combination of work ethic, skill and culture fit is no easy task. In fact, that combination is most elusive. It’s easy to fill one or two of such criteria, but it is worth holding out for that trifecta.

Your team will thank you.

The process of finding the right people is not easy, and employment law is a minefield. As employer, following employment “rules” is a must (and very hard for entrepreneurs). It begins with attracting great people; retaining them and treating everyone fairly. Those three skills are key.

The best way to handle problem employees is to never hire them in the first place. Good hiring leads to a better workplace and longevity of your reputation and quality. With a startup, this is hard to do because often we are so desperate to get the work done that we hire the warm body and not the person. But it is worth your time to take your time and let the process help you weed out the candidates who aren’t a good fit and especially those who just lie to get the job. Once you hire someone, it is significantly harder to show him or her out the door. 

Here are some (hard won) tips on hiring once – the right way:

• Organize your job posting and job description so it fits well what you want the person to do.
• Respond to job inquiries quickly because time is the killer of all deals.
• Conduct interviews efficiently and with the same criteria.
• Do background and reference checks. Can I say it again? Do background and reference checks.
• Check credentials (do they really have that certification they say they do?).

Better Call Saul

Get a lawyer you can trust who specializes in employment law. And have a skilled HR expert on staff or consulting with you for day-to-day questions that come up. Employees offer a legal maze of what you can and cannot do, say or require. Want to close the office for the holidays? You might still have to pay some staff even if the cash isn’t coming in. Want to promote someone but keep them paid hourly? You might be required to convert to salary. Want to terminate a poor performer? That might come back to haunt you – or shut you down – if you don’t have the proper paperwork and documentation in order. Anyone can accuse another person, an employer or company of anything (whether true or not). The accused has to prove innocence and only a paper trail, correct legal advice and strong relationships with the rest of your employee team can do so.

What not to do:

• Discriminate during hiring on the basis of race, gender, national origin, age, religion, or disability. (Even asking, “When did you graduate from high school?” can get you in trouble with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
• Terminate an otherwise good employee without mentoring and motivating the person to improve. Facilitate the opportunity for change.
• Assume the employee will improve on his or her own. Document every conversation, issue or challenge and how you tried to resolve it. Document verbal and written warnings. Document any accommodations you’ve offered to resolve. (Hopefully, you have the chance to document a turnaround.)

Basics to know:

• If you have a growing business and you can’t keep up with the call for “all hands on deck,” hire a recruiter or recruiting agency who works on your behalf to build the team as you need it. They will protect you from the pitfalls of the hiring. process and it’s worth it when you find that diamond.
• Know the Colorado “Employment At Will Policy.”
• Know when you can (and importantly cannot) fire an employee.
• Document. Document. Document. Document performance issues and everything you do to resolve them.
• Understand employee rights, including benefits (and more complicated aspects like benefits, insurance, unemployment, workman’s copy, 401Ks).

As always, with any interaction, it is best to part with honor. The world is small and chances are that you’ll run into each other again in the future.

Why make it harder than it has to be?

Categories: Management & Leadership