Micrel, the Silicon Valley company I founded and led for 37 years, had the lowest employee turnover rate in the American semiconductor industry, and the highest rate of boomerang (returning) employees. I personally have hired hundreds of people and Micrel hired thousands.
Hiring the right employee matters more than most other decisions you or your management team will make. A bad hire can be downright destructive to a company. A desperation hire likely produces lackluster results. But a great hire will lift your sprits as well as your profits.Knowing how to hire is as important as knowing your marketing, knowing how to innovate and knowing how to manage corporate cash (a topic I discuss at length in my book Tough Things First). The key to having low turnover as well as high-performing employees is in the methods that you use in selecting and interviewing candidates.
Start with knowing the role
Young companies often do not think through what they need in each role. This may be due in part to the ever shifting nature of startups; but not establishing the essential duties, and thus the critical capabilities of an employee, is suicidal.
Start with knowing exactly what you want in a hire, and writing a well-defined job description.
This includes both education and experience, and it may include specific knowledge, industry contacts, personality profiles and more. It is better to be too detailed than not detailed enough.
Engage many people, especially from outside the department
A few blind men may not be able to know they are touching an elephant, but by collaborating they could likely document the specimen completely.
Leaving hiring selection to a small number of people is the same situation. Everyone perceives things differently, and everyone sees different aspects of a candidate. Only by having an appropriate number of interviewers and a rational method of discussing and scoring the candidate can great hiring decisions be made.
Interview teams should consist of six people, with at least half being from outside the group for which the individual is being interviewed. That last point is significant. Most employees will have to work across departmental or team boundaries. What someone outside the group sees is something people within the group likely will not.
Imagine you are hiring a new systems software developer – and über geek. Other systems programmers and the department head will get the quirks common to this type of genius, and overlook things that might cause problems with applications developers, system admins and others outside his group.
Selecting the six interviewers is very important and needs to ensure that people with the right disciplines have a chance to interview the prospective employee. There is little use in having our systems programmer chat with anyone in the accounts payable section; but not having him or her interviewed by the head of product support could be a deadly mistake.
Allow the candidate to open up
Where and how the interview is conducted affects the accuracy of the interviews.
Find a quiet and private location. Job interviews are stressful enough. Inducing loads of distractions and being subjected to roving onlookers doesn’t relax anyone. Easing the candidate gives them a chance to have a personal interview process and, if the interviewers are warm and inviting, to open up about goals, experiences and even personal drawbacks.
Every interviewer should start by saying how much they appreciate having the candidate interviewing with your company.
After all, they likely have alternatives. They decided your company was worth considering, just as you decided the candidate was. This mutual vote of confidence is a good start, and should be acknowledged.
Next, shut up. During the interview, let the prospective employee do most of the talking while you do most of the listening. Your mission is to find out as much as possible about the candidate, and you cannot do this if your mouth is engaged.
The more comfortable the candidate feels while talking with you not only enhances your chances of getting the information that you need, but also the chances of the candidate wanting to join your team.
Learning what is important
Learning what a candidate knows is almost as important as learning who they are. This goes back to making the candidate comfortable and letting them speak.
By asking difficult questions, you will make them feel uncomfortable and not expose their truest personality. You can also achieve this by monopolising the conversation, coming to the interview with a less than positive attitude, or even by bad-mouthing the candidate’s current employer. Instead, by being welcoming, warm, and mostly quiet, you quickly discover what kind of a person they are. You get an idea of whether they will match your company’s culture, be agreeable to other employees and meet your expectations.
Among the things you should watch for during an interview, some of the most important are:
Money Talk: If the prospective employee focuses on compensation, that is a red flag. Everyone needs money, and there is no shame in discussing compensation. But a candidate fixated on rewards is not going to be fixated on providing value.
Outbound Attitude: What did the candidate think of their prior employer and job? If they disliked their employer or the type of work that they were doing, this may be a problem. The main reason employees leave or search for another job is that they did not like their immediate supervisor. But this dislike may be the employee’s perception or poor people skills. Otherwise, liking their immediate supervisor is a positive.
Dress for no Success: How an employee came dressed for the interview may tell much. The goal is to see if the way they dress is comparable with what you expect, because you are a product of your corporate and group cultures. The systems programmer discussed above might set off warning bells if he did show up in a suit and tie, as would a potential CFO arriving in sneakers and blue jeans.
And the judges score his performance as …
Micrel used a 10-point rating scale for each of the categories we applied to a candidate. Your company should have a different set of criteria, but following the Micrel model is a great start.
We scored people on appearance, personality, written skills, technical expertise in the job being considered, cultural fit, verbal skills, an “overall” rating, and finally if the interviewer would consider the candidate for the hire (even if the interviewer was outside of the target department).
At Micrel, we looked for a composite score of seven or higher to even consider the employee. If the primary interviewer – the likely boss – would not consider the candidate for the hire, the prospective employee was not picked unless the application was kicked up to the next level and the decision was made there (very rare and under unusual circumstances). Otherwise, at least four out of the six people doing the interviewing had to agree to hire the candidate and the candidate’s composite score had to be seven or higher.
Knowing what you cannot know
There are some things you cannot tell in an interview, and that is why references are required.
A friend of mine once built a technical support team from the ground up. All the new employees were brilliant and outlasted my friend, with the exception of one fellow.
During the interview cycle, the candidate impressed interviewers. He was a solid personality fit, a good cultural match, and showed great drive. He also ended up being a chronic alcoholic who missed work after each of his only two pay cheques. None of this was even remotely apparent during interviews.
Reference checks are mandatory and the employee should supply at least three qualified references, not including their own family or friends; and these people must be technically within the area being considered.
Where possible, find two other references that a candidate did not list, be they former co-workers, bosses or even found with a deep scan of the employee’s social media accounts.
Hire above the wire
If you are lucky, you will have multiple, highly qualified candidates from which to choose. But sometimes you do not. Avoid succumbing to the temptation to hire less than the best.
An employee who doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, who doesn’t fit the culture, who leaves interviewers feeling flat, will only slow down your company. Leave slots unfilled until the right person arrives.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
4 Benefits Of Business Process Outsourcing For Small Businesses
Using data outsourcing has many benefits for your small business and is something you need to consider should you want to improve and make your company more efficient.
When starting a business, you don’t always estimate the amount of work and skills needed to operate and manage your business efficiently. But that’s where business process outsourcing (BPO) comes in handy, and can save many startups from going under before they’ve barely begun making waves in the market.
Take a look at your small business. Are you constantly searching for qualified and experienced people to undertake tasks but never having the funds to employ and fill all the necessary roles? Do you find that most of your time, as manager, is spent on administrative tasks that don’t directly contribute to any of your company’s goals?
The way you’re going to save your business and grow it at the rate you initially projected, will be by outsourcing these activities to computer and data processing services who can overlook those details while you attend to your business. Using data outsourcing has many benefits for your small business and is something you need to consider should you want to improve and make your company more efficient.
1. Rely on the professionals
One benefit of using data and form processing services is that you can rely on the professionals to get the job done. Their business is to monitor, process and report on the processes of your business that you entrust to them. And you won’t have to worry about hiring and training a whole new team or spending countless hours on those mundane tasks. Data processing, marketing or accounting is their speciality and they know exactly what they’re doing.
And the best part is that there are a variety of business processes that can be outsourced.
2. Save time on most business processes
A great benefit of BPO is that you will no longer be responsible for the tasks you didn’t necessarily sign up for when you started the business. This means you can take every minute saved by outsourcing to develop the areas of the business that made you start up in the first place.
Different department functions that can be outsourced include:
- Human resources: The hiring process can be a long and draining one. Outsourcing your human resources means there are other people responsible for filtering through hundreds of CVs and applicants based on what you’re looking for through a series of high-quality-candidate databases. All you’ll need to worry about is the final interview and meeting.
- Marketing: Understanding your target audience is important in business. And marketing is the tool that allows you to engage, manage your brand reputation, acquire new customers and maintain your current client relationships. But if you aren’t a marketing firm, there’s a chance you’ll miss these ROI opportunities, which is where outsourcing would be the best option.
- Customer service: Not many small businesses can afford to operate and set up a 24/7 call centre within their offices. Outsourcing call centres to manage your customer support is more common than you may think and will save you the effort and resources of creating a new department in your company.
- Finances: You business’ finances are arguably the most important asset that needs to be tracked and managed. We can’t all be financiers and since finance is so important in business, outsourcing your business finances is advisable. You won’t find yourself spending more than you can afford, you won’t have to worry about payroll, tax preparation or any accounting activities. Your financial BPO will take care of it all and you can stick with what you know best about business.
By making use of business process outsourcing, you’re allowing yourself and your employees the opportunity to hone in on the skills you already have instead of trying to find time to learn new ones that aren’t related to your everyday job description. This will also allow your company to become more efficient in its industry as the focus will be solely on the business’ product or service offering.
3. Reduce operation costs
The reason why small and large businesses choose to outsource business processes is the opportunity to reduce operating costs. Also, it’s incredibly convenient and stress-relieving to not have to try and do a job you don’t quite understand and aren’t qualified to do.
BPO reduces operating costs as you won’t have to spend money on new employees, employee training or the equipment and software to carry out those tasks. You will also be saving yourself time on tasks that don’t need to be done in the office. That time can then be put into business-focused activities that can make your company more efficient in the product or service it offers customers.
4. A competitive edge
Having the extra time to focus on the real work your business does, will give you a competitive edge. And not only in the industry of small businesses. Having the resources to make your business products efficient and the best on the market has the potential to make you a competitor amongst larger businesses.
By choosing the right BPO companies, your business will also be operating with the latest technology and software – without you having to pay extra for it. This is an edge above most small business who attempt to do everything on their own before they’ve established the necessary profit margins to make those upgrades and remain consistent in their development.
These are just four of the many benefits of BPO. Make the smart business decision and use BPO to your advantage. It’s a quick, easy and affordable way to build your company and witness exponential growth.
How Your Company Can Easily Attract Fresh Talent
Well, there are many ways to go about attracting fresh talent, the easiest of which are…
The minds that are walking out of university these days have so much potential and power which many companies are longing for. Fresh new minds that are eager to start working and applying themselves in the “real” world. The best interests of your company lie in attracting this fresh batch of millennial talent. So how exactly could you do that?
Provide opportunities to learn
Millennials are after experience and career growth. They want to know that the company they will be working for is prioritising that journey. And what better way to encourage them on their career path than providing learning opportunities within the business?
A few of the main ways companies provide their employees with opportunities to learn are through internships, learnerships and mentorships.
- Internships: An internship is like a pre-entry level position where interns have an opportunity to learn the ropes and figure out if this is, in fact, the industry or career they want to be building a career in. This is an extremely valuable and appreciated opportunity for most graduates and a way for companies to easily spot talent. If both parties are happy with how the internship has been carried out, all the employer needs to do is offer up a permanent post.
- Learnerships: What is a learnership? And what are the benefits of a learnership in a company? A learnership is an educational training programme that companies offer to employees which allows them to gain work experience while learning industry-relevant theory. It’s more than a basic internship as learnership jobs can lead to a registered NQF qualification. This is beneficial to the company as they can be certain that all their employees are equally knowledgeable about their work and millennial applications will be flooding in for the opportunity to add further education and experience to their CVs through this opportunity.
- Mentorships: Fresh minds are still newbies in the business and want to know that they’ll be taught (not spoon fed). This is where companies can offer mentorships that new employees can work with seasoned employees to gain business tips and insights that will help them become better. This is what graduates are looking for, an opportunity to learn from the best in order to be the best.
Be an innovative environment
You can’t expect to attract fresh minds and creative talents when your company lacks an innovative environment. People want to know that they will be challenged and inspired every day by their work environment. And it’s not about working overtime to keep your new employees stimulated, but about making sure they have the resources, creative team members and freedom to think outside of the box.
They need to know that their innovation will be encouraged and supported. When advertising for vacancies, don’t be afraid to mention some of the innovative projects you’ve done. It will definitely excite any innovative minds on the job-hunt and those are the types of people you need to elevate your company.
Provide flexible work schedules
Flexibility is the work-trend at the moment and young people are looking for flexibility from their jobs. Being flexible with your work schedules is in your company’s best interest for more reasons than just the talent you’ll be attracting:
- Discourage the turnover rate of employees as they will have an increase in employee satisfaction.
- Increase in productivity from punctual and purposeful employees.
- And there will be an opportunity for extended business hours to increase customer satisfaction.
If you offer and implement it in the right way, flexible working hours are probably the easiest way to retain current and attract new talent to your company.
Be digitally relevant
Having the latest technology and digitally-advanced business processes shows new talent that you’re all about adapting to the constantly changing environment. They will want to work for you because this strive for relevance means they will constantly have opportunities to improve and find new ways of taking the company and industry forward.
Start by improving your office processes and being more digitally savvy. The more “ancient” your ways of doing things, the less fresh talent you’ll attract. People don’t want to sit and struggle through admin when their time could be spent on something more useful and relevant to the current era.
By making the most of technology, it also shows that your company chooses to be “green” with how they conduct business. And being part of a “save the planet” movement while doing your day job is what most young people strive to do these days.
Every company can easily attract fresh talent by implementing the above practices. And the resources that are spent is nothing compared to the revenue these new minds can potentially bring in by being part of your company.
Youth Employment An Opportunity
South Africa has a high youth unemployment rate – it is vital for business to consider alternatives for youth employment.
A young female graduate with hands-on experience in setting up and running community projects, had resourcefully turned a hobby into an income-generating small business to support herself, while seeking employment… a skilled person, wouldn’t you say? It took her five long months to find employment – and in that time she received 50 rejections – 50 rejections with no useful feedback as to why she was being turned down. We employed her – and within the first few days she’d surpassed our expectations, had added ‘value’, so much so, that two weeks later we assigned her to a project.
It’s this kind of potential that company recruitment approaches seem to overlook!
There are 6-million unemployed young people in South Africa – and the social and economic transformation economy that is crucial for the country, is an economy that has been growing at less than the minimum 5-6 percent required to shrink unemployment, largely due to the under-performance of main institutions.
Business accustomed to turning problems into opportunities of value-creation regards the South African Education and Training system as one that does not deliver in equipping young people with the requisite work and readiness skills. There are government tax breaks and grants which provide opportunities for short term employment, but unfortunately these do not create value, nor are they sustainable as they are not used strategically.
Last year I had the good fortune to attend the Youth Employment Enterprise Skills Solutions (YEESS) summit in Nelson Mandela Metro – engaging with the young attendees I found that they were determined to change the view held by business that they are considered a risk, to one which recognises that they can, and do, add value and assist in realising opportunities, particularly because of their age -related attributes that give them the edge.
- are a cost advantage – they cost less (South African staff is paid on the basis of the years of work rather than the value)
- have a higher level of energy – they work faster and for longer hours
- have flexibility – they learn new tasks /systems quickly, and are often more innovative
- can increase revenue – they enjoy engaging with customers, and being ‘entrepreneurial’ (eager to promote products and services in the market)
Business should consider these opportunities – the model that many businesses currently use pays young people a stipend which usually just covers their living costs and employs them for a short period; and then the norm is to “find” something for them to do to keep them busy… a soul-destroying experience that in no way creates value and is certainly not one on which to build a career.
Alternatives to the existing model are to:
- clearly pinpoint the opportunities and define the value (that the potential employee is required to add)
- provide training – measuring potential is a challenge – a short training programme for job-seekers can clearly identify the ones who benefit most, and are thus likely to be the most valuable – and there is the plus of 4 BBBEE Skills development points for the training of unemployed people
- provide a ‘proving’ period (3 to 12 months) where goals, expectations and support are clearly laid out -this provides an important business foundation experience in a productive environment considerably improving the chances of the young person’s absorption into the business culture.
By changing the way one views youth unemployment – to see youth employment rather as an chance to reduce costs, increase revenue and contribute to the building of skills and training future entrepreneurs – presents the perfect opportunity for business to contribute to the country’s future stability and gain economic returns.
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