Where are all the good employees?

The owner of 2 successful restaurants in my area once told me that you aren’t really a business owner until you’ve fired someone, almost lost all of your money, and been sued.  I’ve managed to accomplish 2 out of 3, so I guess I’m almost there!  Goals!

But seriously, when I talk to small business owners or even friends that work for large corporations if the subject of hiring comes up the following is said:

“It’s so hard to find good people.”

“I can never find anyone good to work for me.”

“I wish I didn’t have employees.”

Are you depressed yet?  I mean, how are you supposed to grow a business that works without you if you have to rely on hiring employees that apparently aren’t good enough?

But before you throw in the towel, let’s consider two things: 1) If you think you’re never going to find these “good people” you won’t.  END OF STORY.  Stop the negative thoughts.  2) If you are having trouble finding these “good people” perhaps you’re not attracting the RIGHT people.  And that is what I’d like to focus on in this discussion—finding the RIGHT people for your business.

Awesome.  Tell me how to run a killer ad and where to place it to find these perfect employees.  Not so fast…

First, as the owner of your business, you need to do a little bit of work before running ads, interviewing, etc.  You need to define your business goals to attract the right candidates.  If you don’t define your business, your employees will do it for you and that’s not ideal since you’re the one with the vision of where the business will go and taking all the risk to get there.  What you’ll want to do is sit down and write out your business Vision, Mission and Culture Statements.

The Vision Statement will tell anyone reading what the business objective is.  It should be short, sweet and to the point.  Below is my studios’ Vision Statement to get you started:

Pure Barre Winston-Salem & Pure Barre Clemmons’ Vision Statement:

Dedicated to achieving strength, confidence and smiles.

The Mission Statement defines what the business does and goes into a little more detail than the Vision Statement.  It might delve into how you will accomplish the ideas established in the Vision Statement.  The Mission Statement should also serve as a guide to your employees of how they might conduct themselves in your business.  Here is what I came up with for my studios:

Mission Statement:

Pure Barre Winston-Salem and Pure Barre Clemmons is a team of committed, motivated and focused people who are always striving to be strong, balanced and caring.  We will work to ensure that everyone who walks through our doors is treated like family and leaves with a smile on their face.  We will challenge our clients to learn their true strength while achieving their fitness goals.  We believe that working out should be fun and that Pure Barre helps us live a balanced life which allows us to be our best selves.

And finally, the Culture Statement or the core values of your business—what you and your team value.  This is what you want to spend some time putting together.  If you don’t define your business culture, your employees will, and they might have other ideas than you—like, bad ideas.  And the whole point is to get you the best employees that fit into YOUR business culture.  You’re in charge so you get to establish the rules.

When I put my studios’ Culture Statement together, I already had a team of about 15 working for me so I used the creation of our Culture Statement as a team-building exercise.  I knew I wanted to define the areas of values, passion, excellence/high performance, communication, development & continuous learning and taking class.  I asked the Team to write out short descriptions of what they thought about these areas in relation to our Team.

It was great!  They all put a lot of effort into it and came up with some great ideas that I would never have thought of.  I combined these thoughts as well as my own (I am the owner after all) and now we have a Culture Statement that you can read below:

Pure Barre Winston-Salem & Pure Barre Clemmons Culture:

Values:  We believe in living a healthy, balanced lifestyle and support the journey our clients take as they do the same.  We greet each client by name or with a smile to show them that they are valued from the second they enter the door.  We build connections with our clients through fitness, strength and a supportive Pure Barre community.

Passion:  We work together as a Team to make our clients love to come to Pure Barre class and hate to leave the studio.  We want to help everyone who walks through our studio doors to perform and achieve things they previously thought impossible.  We truly love what we do and tell everyone how great Pure Barre is and how it has transformed our bodies.  If we meet someone who has never tried a Pure Barre class, we want them to be as passionate and devoted to the technique as we are.  Pure Barre is bigger than just going through the motions.

Excellence/High Performance:  We have high expectations for ourselves and we encourage each other and our clients to strive for excellence in each and every class.  We set the standard to make each class better than the one that preceded it—whether we’re teaching or taking.

Communication:  We work to ensure that no client leaves the studio feeling confused or unsatisfied.  During class we strive for clear cues and inspiring words.  There is genuine communication that takes place between clients and Team members to strengthen our Pure Barre community and complement the physical work that’s taking place in the studio.

Development & Continuous Learning:  We constantly challenge ourselves to learn, improve and build on our skills.  We believe that you can always learn something from each of our Team members no matter their level of experience.

Taking Class:  We love Pure Barre and can’t imagine a life without taking class each week.  When we take class, we are a positive example to each other and our clients.  Pure Barre is “your hour to change your body” and we make it a priority.

Ok.  So now you have your business Vision, Mission and Culture Statements and you’re feeling pretty good.  Ready for that ad?  Not quite yet.  You’ll also want to create a job description of the position you’re wanting to fill.  What do you want this new employee to do on a day-to-day basis?  Do they need special skills to fulfill the duties of the job?  Write it all out and get as organized as possible so when you meet with your candidates for interviews you already know what this new employee will need to do and what personality traits or skills they’ll need to have to meet your requirements.

Now you can write your ad.  Yes!  Finally!

Here is an ad I recently used to attract over 50 applicants to work in a front desk associate position at my studios.

If you’re the front desk associate we’re looking for… You’ll be…

Friendly, charming, enthusiastic and conscientious … You’d have a passion for Pure Barre, have high standards and be described as courteous, mature and a team player…

You’ll be responsible for 3 major roles with Pure Barre Winston-Salem/Pure Barre Clemmons—greeting clients and checking them into class, selling athletic clothing and accessories and daily operations, including keeping the studio clean and inviting as well as working with our teachers to provide a superior experience to our clients.

You’ll need to be well presented, trustworthy, punctual and love smiling.  If you aren’t already taking Pure Barre classes, you’ll need to commit to taking 3-4 classes each week—as loving Pure Barre and taking class is a key element of our culture.  You’ll be eager to take this opportunity to learn, grow and achieve well above average results.  You’ll apply the skills you already have in sales, windows-based programs and have worked previously in a similar role.

If you believe this is you, be ready to show us why when you call xxx-xxx-xxx to leave the answers to the following 3 questions:

  1. When was the last time you did something nice for someone “just because”? Explain why.

  2. What is the best word that describes you? Please pick only one.

  3. What was the last book you read?

I placed this ad on our studios’ Facebook and Instagram pages as well as through hiringsteps.com, which reaches out to a number of job positing sites.  You’ve probably never seen an ad like this, am I right?  My business coach, Mary Ann, gave me this template and recommended having every applicant call to answer 3 questions.  Why?

For two reasons, 1) It self-selects the best candidates.  I had over 50 people send their resume for this position, but only 30 left messages on my Google Voice number that recorded all the calls and also provided me a transcript of the call to print out and keep with each applicant’s resume.  Boom!  Already found the best 30 people in the group because they can follow directions.  2) This position requires the candidate to be friendly and have a great phone presence.  So I already know how these applicants will sound on the phone to clients.  Since a few of them rambled on and didn’t have the best phone presence, I was able to narrow down to 20 applicants.

Now interviewing 20 people would take forever and I don’t have that kind of time.  In fact, I really only had two hours to get these interviews done.  What to do?!  Two words: Group Interview.  Group interviews are great because they save you time and you can see how the candidates react to each other.  Are they too aggressive?  Are they rude?  Did one cut another off to get more talking time in?  Did one just say the same things as the others without coming up with original answers?  All great things to learn as you’re building your Team.

Next, I sent each candidate an email inviting them to a group interview during a time that worked for me.  Some couldn’t make it and we actually had to set up two separate interview times because I wanted to meet with a few select candidates that couldn’t make the initial time I had set up.  Boom!  10 people ready to interview on two different days.  Things are getting a little more manageable.

Before the interviews I ranked each candidate from 1 to 10.  One being the most qualified and ten being the least.  At this point all ten were qualified, but it’s important to be organized and make sure you are creating an interview process that gets you the best of the best.  I also had my Vision, Mission and Culture Statements ready as well as a few questions that I wanted to make sure were answered by each candidate.

During the interviews Mary Ann, did most of the questioning so I could listen and take notes, which was extremely helpful.  I’m sure many of you have interviewed someone and you’re so focused on what the next question is and what’s coming up next that you don’t really listen to the answers the candidate is giving.  You could have another employee or friend help you if you don’t have a business coach.  But … maybe you should get a business coach (more on that later).

Mary Ann introduced me and gave a brief description of the business and the role.  She then had me read our Vision, Mission and Culture Statements (Yes!  All the work putting those ideas together finally paid off!).  You might want to talk about what it’s like to work at your business, review the position description (Remember, you wrote that out already), pay structure, whatever is important to let the candidates know.  At this point, Mary Ann says “If any of this doesn’t sound good, you are welcome to leave.  We totally understand that this might not be the position for you.”

No one left because, of course, my business is amazing and working for me would be your dream come true—ok, just kidding.  But no one left.  If they did, that would be totally fine.  It would ensure that I was only selecting the best people that WANT TO WORK FOR ME.  Another self-selection point reached.

Then the candidates are asked individual questions and have time to ask their own questions.  And if I have any more questions I’ll ask at that time.  As the last step of the interview, the candidates are asked to fill out a questionnaire which is a great way to get any final thoughts.  The questionnaire had the following questions:

What did you hear that impressed or touched you?

What have you done in the past that you believe you could add value to the story I’ve told you?

What one hurdle, what impossible hurdle have you had to overcome in your life that has caused you to believe that you’re a keeper?

What is it about the position we described that appeals to you?

Any other comments?

After everything you’ve seen and heard do you want to go further in this interview process?

You probably want to give everyone about ten or fifteen minutes to write their responses.  I had one candidate write some very personal and touching things on her questionnaire.  I’m so glad we had this last step because it made me understand more about her and she established herself as a person I wanted to hire.  And now she works for me and is a great asset to the Team.

Sweet!  Interviews are over.  You can now compare the responses you got with the ranking you made before the interviews commenced and select your top choices.

Wouldn’t this process have been nice to learn in business school?!  I mean, it would be so great to learn some practical ways to actually hire great people.  Sigh.

You’ve identified a great new employee called them.  And you’re ready to hire them.  Everything is awesome, right?  Wrong.  Turns out your top choice took another job.  But, remember you have your ranked list, you can simply pick the next person on the list and offer them the position.  This happened to me the last time I held interviews and I didn’t skip a beat because I had identified several great people.  Now everything is awesome.

Perfect.  You’re done.  You’ve hired someone and can go back to work.  Not a chance!  This is just the beginning.  You now have to develop this employee, make sure they are working to their potential and most importantly make sure they are working to add value your business.

Oh man.  This business ownership thing just got real.

Not to worry, next week, I’d like to discuss setting yourself up for success including developing your team and surrounding yourself with the right people.  I’m sure you’re also curious as to how I almost lost my business and I’ll tell you more about that too.

I would love to hear your thoughts on hiring and building your team.  Please comment below and we can swap ideas.

Until then, keep on your toes!


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