How I Almost Lost My Business: A Lesson in Avoiding Hiring Mistakes

Hopefully you’ve learned some helpful information about why it’s important to hire a great team and how to develop them to be the best fit for your business.  Maybe you’ve even started writing out your business’ Vision, Mission and Culture statements.  Sweet, you’re already ahead of your competition.  They’re still fumbling around trying to understand why their team is dysfunctional.  If you haven’t and you’re going to hire one or more employees anytime soon, stop what you’re doing right now and commit to getting these things completed.  Seriously…fire up the laptop and get ‘er done!

Unfortunately, I didn’t always have my Vision, Mission and Culture statements defined for my studios and when I think back to all of the hiring mistakes I’ve made (and there have been MANY), it all boiled down to the individual being a bad fit for the studio culture.

That’s right.  Every bad hire I’ve ever made didn’t fit into our studio culture—specifically these people didn’t take class on a regular basis or ever.  I guess they just didn’t care about Pure Barre or value how great our classes are—and that’s what made them a terrible fit.

If you reflect back to any hiring mistakes you’ve made, I’m willing to bet you would find some similarities.  There are likely one or two things that make your business culture unique and the people that don’t excel in your environment likely don’t exhibit those core values.

But back to me and my past mistakes…  Many of my bad hires were just plain clueless.  One time, I hired a woman who had worked at another studio in the same role.  I thought, “Great.  She’ll already know what to do, so I won’t have to spend too much time training her and answering questions about how to use our client management software.”  Sadly, I was mistaken.  Every time the phone rang, she would answer: “Hello, Pure Barre Chapel Hill.”  Uh.  We’re in Winston-Salem.  We got a lot of hang-ups those few months she was there.  Head hits desk.  Bourbon is poured.

Another time, I was in the car driving out of town for my first vacation since opening the first studio.  A lovely employee called me and told me that she was quitting effective immediately and not coming in that evening/weekend so she could go to the beach.  I had to bring a car full of bulldogs back to the studio to finish out the day.  No vacation for me.  If I ever saw her again, I’d punch her in the face.

I’ve had someone quit before they even started.  That was pretty awesome.

But my biggest hiring mistake almost cost me both of my studios.  I would love to go into specifics, however, I’m sure there are some legal implications to consider.  And while I would love to be sued and join the ranks of REAL business owners, maybe I can push that one off until at least 2017.

The point I’m trying to make is this: if you don’t define what you want from your employees in each role for which you’re hiring and define your business culture, you could be one bad hire away from disaster.

But the good news is, if you have defined your business culture, you’ll always know the values that you’re looking for in a new hire as you’re building your team.  If someone doesn’t match every part of your Culture Statement, they aren’t a good fit and you shouldn’t hire them.

Maybe you’re thinking, I’m desperate to get some help?  Someone is better than no one. DON’T DO IT.  Especially if you’re desperate, DON’T DO IT.

My biggest hiring mistake was made under duress.  I thought I had to hire someone immediately.  I didn’t feel good about the decision and that little voice in the back of my head kept saying, “This isn’t good.  Not liking this situation.  They just don’t seem to fit in.”  If I had listened to my intuition, perhaps I would have avoided a lot of problems, late night drinking, and lost sleep.  And maybe I wouldn’t have put my businesses at risk.

Are you scared yet?  In truth, YOU, personally can make plenty of other bad decisions to wreck your business—if your business is suffering it’s not all about bad hires.  But technically, YOU did hire them.  Full circle.  Oops.

But back to the topic at hand…  Hiring employees needs to be a very deliberate and organized process.  If you don’t put in the work before the interview to define the role and what you need from your team, that’s when problems happen and you make bad hiring decisions.  And please listen to your intuition.  If you think something is wrong, take a step back and be careful making that hire.  In the end, listening to your intuition could save you time, money and lots of exasperation.

But it’s not all hopeless.  Not even close.  Please know that things are great with my studios now because I managed to make at least one really good decision.

My studios have turned around in large part because I decided to hire a business coach to get back on track.  May Ann Hauser is my coach and she’s with ActionCOACH.  She’s one of the top 100 coaches in the world.  And she’s right here in little ole’ Winston-Salem.  Lucky me!

If you are struggling to operate your business, or if your business struggles financially, get yourself a business coach.  Sure, it’s hard to stomach the price of coaching, but it’s an investment in yourself.  And the fees I’ve paid thus far have been more than covered by increased revenue and lower costs.  When I was an athlete, I had a coach to achieve success.  So it only makes sense to have one to help me stay focused on my business success.

Think of it this way: If you’re struggling, what you’re doing isn’t working.  You need a new perspective.  In order to gain that new view, you’re going to need the help of a coach whose only job is to make sure you make sound business decisions designed to grow your business to achieve your goals.

I truly think the sign of an effective leader is the ability to realize when things aren’t working, have the courage to change them, and don’t look back.  Ponder that over the weekend as you work ON your business.

Next week, I’ll delve into new ways to look at marketing as well as discuss why I wake up early and read every morning (and it’s not because my English Bulldog puppy has an incredible zest for life that starts at 4:30 AM).

Until then, stay on your toes!

I would love to hear if any of your bad hires didn’t fit your culture and why.  Comment below and we’ll all get a laugh at your misfortune.  Just kidding.  We might learn something and avoid another trip to the liquor store!  

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