Be clear about what you need to hire well

Valerie Riley, LifeSquire

You’ve probably found that there are certain types of people who perform really well in your organization, and some who tend to struggle.

My business requires a very specific type of person, too, and over the years I’ve developed a system that helps us find people who will be successful in our organization.

After running the business by myself for more than a year, I started hiring. I assumed that most people would have the same skills of caring for other people that I have.

In my third year, turnover was high, and I recognized that I needed help in hiring. I turned to a business psychologist for guidance.

He helped me develop a profile of our ideal employee. The most important thing for us is for someone to have an innate desire to be a problem-solver.

We developed a psychological test to screen for characteristics that fit our profile. It’s pretty intrusive. It asks you a lot of personal questions.

We have some applicants tell us, “That’s a deal-breaker.” That’s okay. But it does mean you’re not going to be a good fit for us.

We also use the StrengthsFinder assessment. We know the specific strengths that work really well for what we do—and the ones that don’t.

The most important strength is a caring attitude. I can teach people how to do the practical aspects of the job, but I cannot instill care in their hearts. We look for people who everybody comes to for help; they’re the go-to person in their family or circle of friends.

We’ve found that our pool of applicants tends to be young women who are millennials.

As is typical of millennials, they want a sense of purpose. They want to be wrapped into the bigger mission of the company.

We give them a sense of empowerment by involving them in decision-making and by sharing our financial picture with them. We also talk a lot about our successes and our failures so they understand that we’re all in this together. That helps them become more invested in our success.

Our approach is working. Turnover is low. We’ve grown to a staff of fifteen in Oklahoma City, and we’re added seven franchises in other cities.

I attribute our success to our firm belief that our people are our product. We’re not selling four-dollar coffees. We’re selling the ability our people have to take care of our clients.

Knowing the type of person we’re looking for helps us ensure our clients are receiving the best care possible.

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