What is the most important buying decision you'll ever make? An expensive piece of cleaning equipment? A new payroll system? Does something else come to mind?
Well, no matter what it is, there is a proven system that ensures you make the best decision and get the most value in return for your investment. It's in use worldwide to purchase everything from paperclips to airplanes and, yet, this system is routinely ignored when it comes to making what is truly the most important buying decision every residential cleaning company owner or manager ever faces: Who gets hired.
A couple of reasons for this oversight come to mind. The first is that few owners or managers realize the standardized practices in use for purchasing also comprise an efficient, effective employee hiring system. Also at play is a reluctance to systemize hiring in the mistaken belief that it's not possible to choose human capital in the same way we acquire other products and services. This is why most hiring decisions still hinge instead on the result of gut-instinct interviews—in spite of the fact that interviews are proven to be only 8% more reliable than flipping a coin!
It's time to take a page out of your purchasing procedures manual and start "buying" employees with the same care and concern as you procure new equipment.
Spell Out Your Purchasing Specifications
Be it a vacuum cleaner or a new staff member, you can't get what you need if you don't know exactly what you need it to do. That’s why your purchasing specs for that new employee should go beyond the basic job description and spell out:
1. The mental and physical capacities needed. Do you need or someone with a degree or simply a GED? Does the applicant need to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound or just be able to lift, carry, and use the necessary equipment?
2. The innate attitudes that ensure the employee likes the job and your customers like the employee. The 4 major factors critical to success on any job are:
Of these factors, the Harvard Business School found that the first 3 account for only 7% of success, while attitude accounts for the remaining 93%. That's why savvy employers hire for attitude and train for skills.
3. The personality traits best suited for the job. Does the job call for a person who is competitive or a team player? The people responsible for cleaning homes should have a natural propensity for attention to detail. On the other hand, your managers should be big picture thinkers.
4. The specific skills you need. Does the ideal candidate need to be bilingual or strong enough to lift and carry 25 pounds repeatedly throughout the day? If the answer is yes, design a test to make sure they really can do what they say they can do.
With the specifications in hand, the purchasing agent issues a Solicitation of Interest to find out who might provide the required products or services. This is analogous to advertising your job opening and, just like a good purchasing agent, you should use every possible resource.
Ask for referrals from employees, customers and vendors. Advertise on job boards, your website and on Craigslist. Call the good people who used to work for you and see if they might want to come back. (The worst they could say is "no," and then you can ask if they know of anyone who might be interested.)
Evaluate Bidders' Qualifications
In the purchasing world, a qualified bidder is "an entity that has the capability to perform the contract requirements." In the hiring world, this is the heart and soul of an effective and efficient employee selection system. It comprises a series of simple, logical steps that reduce employee turnover by ensuring better hiring decisions.
The first step is a telephone prescreen to determine if applicants meet the most basic hiring criteria. There's no point in taking the time to see anyone in person who doesn't pass this screening step.
For those who pass the pre-screen, conduct the appropriate tests to determine if applicants meet the rest of the requirements called out in your specs. The first tests are for the required skills and capacities.
For those who pass this screen, standardized attitude and/or personality tests are also widely available to help identify those people best suited to the job.
Issue Your Request for Proposal (RFP)
At this point, the purchasing agent invites qualified vendors to submit their proposals. Similarly, you have identified a group of people you want to invite in for the big test: the interview.
There are several steps to conducting an effective interview and the first is to tell the applicant up front what is going to happen and what you want them to do. Above all, you want the person to be honest with you.
You can accomplish this by saying something like: "I'm going to be honest and open with you about this job and I hope you will be open and honest with me. It doesn't matter if you've ever been fired or had trouble with a boss before. As long as you tell me, we can take it under consideration. But, if you don't tell me and we find a problem when we run your background check, I can't hire you. Do you understand what it is I want?" Now the applicant is positioned to tell you the truth when you start asking questions.
The second step is the interview itself. The interviewers who get the best results use structured interview question sets. By asking every applicant the same questions, they're able to compare apples-to-apples and make the best hiring decisions.
Conduct Your Bid Analysis
Now our purchasing agent will enter all the information from the proposals submitted into some kind of spreadsheet in order to analyze the data and make a decision. This is where you gather up all the information you've collected about each applicant and do the same.
When making a final decision about who to hire, there are 4 things to consider:
- Test results should count for 30%
- The interview should count for 30%
- References should count for 30% (once thoroughly checked)
- Your personal perception should count for 10% (because no matter how hard you try to eliminate your biases, they may still be there)
If the applicant scores poorly on any one of the criteria, it's worth 100% and eliminates the applicant. On the other hand, a fantastic rating in any one of these areas can't, on its own, get someone hired. When you find good-to-great ratings in all four areas, you've found the right person for the job.
Make the Award & Letters of Regret
At this point, our purchasing agent may issue a contract to the winning bidder. This document will spell out all the terms and conditions as well as the rights and obligations of both parties. The applicant's signed and dated employment application form should cover all these issues, however, when you "award" the job you'll want to spell out a few things to avoid the misunderstandings, disappointments, and assumptions that can lead to that person walking out on you or termination for cause.
First, tell the successful candidate why you chose him or her. Explain how the person's capacities, attitudes, personality traits and skills are a good match for the job. When you set expectations early in this way, the person will either meet your standards or opt out by declining your offer.
Second, make sure the person understands all the terms and conditions of the offer: the position, earnings, start date and any contingencies, such as a drug test.
Third, make sure the person knows the grounds for termination by reviewing all job-related rules. Finally, don't forget to notify the other candidates that you have decided to hire someone else. Thank them for applying and the time they invested and wish them well.
Every job applicant knows your job is to "buy" the best applicant you can. Do what works. Use purchasing policies and procedures to decide who gets hired and watch your organization thrive.
Certified Speaking Professional Mel Kleiman is North America's foremost authority on how to recruit, select and retain hourly employees and president of Humetrics. Founded in 1976, Humetrics provides selection and retention tools as well as speaking, training and consulting services. Mel is also the author of five books including the bestseller, "Hire Tough, Manage Easy." For more information, visit www.Humetrics.com or call (713) 771-4401.