Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Managing your staff

A recent study suggested that just 15% of employees are engaged at work. A business is more likely to grow and thrive with staff who are engaged and driven by the right attitude. This module takes you through key things to look for when hiring new staff and what to do when an employee isn't working out.

Key learning outcomes:

  • What to look our for when hiring
  • The process and documentation
  • Fire Fast and do it right

Please note that it is highly recommended to download the attached workbook (below) for reference during this module.

Video presentation: Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Hi, my name's Jeremy Streton and welcome to this presentation on Hire Slow and Fire Fast.

So my name is Jeremy Streton and I'm a lawyer. I run a law firm, SMS law, based in Caboolture and an office in Brisbane. And I'm doing this presentation today of hire slow and fire fast to help set you up for the correct process in how to hire the right team for your business. Before I begin, if I could just ask you to, if you haven't already, download the workbook that goes with this presentation. I will provide that, and during the talk it's really important that you have that because there's lots of great resources that we have put together to help you to really hire slow and fire fast.

So I learned a little bit about me. So, I'm a lawyer and an entrepreneur. So I run SMS law, as I said before, and I also run a nber of other businesses. I run a business based on a book I wrote called the business legal law cycle, which is all about starting up businesses in the correct way and taking them to success. And I also run a consulting business, helping business owners through masterminds and coaching them in businesses. My, why, is that I believe that every person has the right to choose the life that they want to live. And by helping people to do that, we can help them to create great businesses that will help the world and their community and the world to be a better place. So that's about me, and so I wanted to just you that introduction about who I am, and then get into this, this talk.

Just 15% of employees are engaged at work

So this slide talks about the fact that it's 15% of employees are engaged at work. So that's a study by a Gallup who's a worldwide Pollster. And they talked about and asked business owners about what are the problems and, and asked employees, what are the problems that they're seeing in business? And 15% of people in employment are actually engaged at work.

That to me is a staggering stat. It shows that there is a huge divide between business owners and employees, and that there's a real engagement problem with employees in their business. And it really is the reason why you need to take a really slow process to hiring people. And then if they're not working out, make the decision early and, and get rid of them as quickly as you can.

So I'm going to talk about three different topics today. I'm going to talk about what to look out for when you hire someone and how to do that process. Not necessarily slowly but methodically and to actually cover as much areas as you can.

I'm going to talk about the process and documentation that you need to have in place when you hire someone. And I'm also then going to talk about firing fast, but also doing it right. Because, you know, there's lots of people who fire people and they just don't get it right. They, and they call themselves problems, and only people who ended up winning at the end of the day are the lawyers. And we don't want that to happen to you.

What to look for when hiring

So the first topic is what to look out for when you hire. So there are a bunch of things you need to look out for, but what you need to do is really look at the right person for the job.

There's a great saying from Richard Branson that you should hire on attitude, and you can train the rest. I have employed many, many people over the years, and I've seen that play out time and time again, that if you have someone with a great attitude - really doesn't matter what their skill set is - there's obviously it's got to be a minimum requirement of skill level, say for a lawyer, you have to have a law degree, or an accountant needs an accountancy degree. So there's a minimum skill requirement, but at the end of the day, what matters is their attitude and whether or not they're going to be the right person for that job. So you need to make sure that you hire on attitude and then you can train the rest.

So here I wanted you to have a look at the workbook. So if you pull that up and if you can go to page two of the workbook, you'll see that we've given you here part one, what to look out for when you hire someone and here where we've taken a lot of the guesswork out of this process for you. And we want to really help you to get the right information so that you can really hire the right people for your positions.

So if you go to part one, You'll say that the first question is:

‘what are the top three values and skills that are important to you for this team member that you're bringing in?’

8 skills and values to look for in a candidate

Here we've set out eight different skills and values that we see as important for a hire and that you should too. And these are things like dedication, confidence, reliability, or their ability to work in a team, independence, leadership, self-awareness, and their integrity. And then what we've done is if you have a look at the workbook, under part two, we've included example questions and what to look out for.

So for instance, under dedication, we've included a question which is:

‘Tell us about a time that felt like you had too many responsibilities. What did you do to manage that?’

Now this is the question and the value of dedication. So then we've given you what to look out for in the answer. So here you're looking for, what are their commitment to time management skills? Do they have interpersonal skills? What, what's their communication like? Will they ask for help or will they just try and go their own way with their role and making decisions on their own? And really, I can't give you a 100% way of saying, this is the way that you need to do it, this is the right response because there is no right response. It's more art than a science. It's an art because you need to look at the response that you get from the person, and then you make a judgment call based on whether or not you think that that person is the right fit for you.

So here, what we've done, as I said is we've given you a bunch of different questions, if you have a look at that on the next few pages, that really fall into what areas are important to you. So if you say that leadership's important to you, we've given you two questions. And for each of these, we've given you two questions that you can use in the interview process. Now in that process, we've also included a bonus question. And it's one that I think that every business owner should ask the team members when they go to employ them.

And that's:

‘Tell us about yourself, or how would somebody describe you in three words?’

Now that might sound like a really innocuous question and it might sound like a question or, you know, what does that mean? But here you really want someone who talks about teamwork. You want someone who has good communication skills wants to be a leader and wants to be a learner. I'm very big on the, on this fact that there's people out there who love to learn. They might listen to podcasts. They might read, they might just be willing to learn just from their boss or from other team members. If they're not. Then they can be a problematic employee going forward because they'll think that they know everything and they won't be able to go forward. So you need to listen to their response.

Again, it's an art, not a science. The art form is in understanding that what you're looking for is what resonates with you, what sounds good, and then seeing how that person goes. Now, the actual process of the interview is also one that I think is really important. And if I could just go through that briefly, I think it's really important obviously to interview multiple times and, depending on the size of your team, you could also have them interviewed from other people outside the leadership group.

So for instance, to give you an example in my law firm, we will have our CEO will interview people. And the first step is obviously put an ad out there or get candidates, review their resumes. I think it's a really good idea to block out the names of the people that apply so that there's no unconscious bias that you might see on those resumes, and assess them on their merits, go through them and work out, okay, who is this person at good fit for my organization, and then bring them in and interview them.

No more than 10 interviews. I know from experience that doing more than, you know, 10 interviews can be a massive time, not, not a time suck, but a time waste and it can, and it can be a bit of a draining process and maybe do it over a couple of days.

Make sure that you make notes. And make sure that you remember probably the key thing that I think that I know I got wrong when I first started to employ people, and that's not to rush through the interview. At the end of the day, if you're going to employ someone, you are going to end up working with this person for hopefully a very long time. And so you need to know that you're going to get along with this person. So don't rush the interview process. An initial interview should be no shorter than half an hour and probably no longer than, than an hour because yeah, people start to fade after an hour, but if you don't do that, then you really don't get to know that person. And, whilst you can have a gut instinct on whether or not this person is suitable for you, that isn't necessarily going to work and you really want to get to know them.

You want to ask them lots of questions. With the questions that we've given you in the interview process, I would challenge you not to help them with the questions or not to be afraid to be silent for a while whilst they actually going through it and answering the questions. Give them time to think about it. Some of the questions that were I've given you are very thought provoking for employees, the ones that most employers don't ask and that that's to their own detriment in my view. And they're ones that you should really consider their responses. And then you might not necessarily have to just agree with their response. You may want to have a think about their response and then ask a followup question to clarify a point. This becomes very important. And you'll see this in the questions.

There are questions about integrity, teamwork, and these are, these are designed to, to get out of someone, whether or not they're the type of person who blames other people for their problems, or whether they take ownership for what they do in their role. These can be really challenging questions for someone and some people. And so you want to make sure that you go through them, ask the right questions, and then you'll, you'll find that you get the right answer and you'll have a good feel about it.

If you do feel that the interviewee is not someone who is suitable based on the initial reaction, then, then you can speed the interview up and get through it faster. I still think it's worthwhile giving it at least half an hour to an hour, just to make sure that you get to know the person right.

I think you should always do a second an interview depending on the size of your organisation that could be with you again, or it could be with team members. That's something that I really enjoy doing is getting a shortlist of people and then get the people that are going to be working with this person to go and have a coffee with them.

Talk about what it's like to work in the business. Let them ask questions about what you are like as a boss. And don't be afraid of what the answer to that could be. Talk about, you know, just talk about the culture and you'll find out so much more.

And I didn't say it before right now in that first interview, make notes. Have a note paper with you and make notes and don't be afraid to write things down. If you are interviewing 10 people, you will forget what the first person said in answer to a bunch of questions by the time you get to the 10th person. Write down. And then what we always make sure we do is we also, we write down notes. and then we always have five to 10 minutes between each interview to just write down their initial thoughts based on the interview and think through what are we missing, discuss it.

Usually there's two people in the interview and make sure that we understand what we might've missed and make sure that we're not missing anything. And raise questions that we might want to ask that person in a second interview that we might've forgotten to ask in that first interview.

So the interview process really, really important. And remember what I said earlier, that this is someone that you're going to be employing hopefully for a very long time. So you want to spend the time on the interview and ask them the questions to make sure that you get it right then.

The right process and documentation

Then we talk about documentation. So as a lawyer, I always have to make sure that we talk about the right questions and also documenting the employment right. So in the workbook on page five, we've given you a checklist of the process and the documentation for hiring someone.

Basically this is something for you to use. To write down or tick off as all the steps that you go through to hiring someone. If you choose not to do some of the steps, that's fine, but go through each of those items and check them off. And you might make notes on the page so that you can understand what you're doing and document that process.

Always, always, always, get a contract. That's not just me as a lawyer because we draft them. Getting a contract in place is so important because when you hire someone, everything's good, you're really happy, everyone's going to move ahead. Everyone knows what they're going to do. But if something goes wrong and unfortunately it does go wrong, a contract helps define what happens in that situation.

I love the saying that good contracts make great relationships. Because they really define what the essence is of what the agreement is, and really define if there is a dispute between the parties, what actually has to happen there. Employment agreements aren't expensive, they are worth investing the money in to get it done right.

So the last topic I want to talk about in this talk is the idea of fire fast and do it right. The second part is so, so important. There are many ways to be right, and this is an area that I can't stress enough that you have to get right. If you get this wrong, it can cost you tens of thousands of dollars and penalties in actual money. And it can cost you so much time and stress of dealing with an unfair dismissal claim.

So if you don't follow someone the correct way then, and you don't follow the process. Then they can commence proceedings against you to set for unfair dismissal and they can claim a bunch of money as damages for you not following the correct process. And they can also apply for reinstatement, and they can look for damages and things like that against you.

Getting the right advice, whether that be from a lawyer or an employment consultant, will save you lots of money in the future. One of the frustrating things about the law is often you can't see the monetary gain that you've got by getting advice, because you never see the bad side of it, but just trust me to know that if you don't follow the right process then it's going to cost you a lot of money down the track.

On top of money is the time. The time you spend in addressing legal disputes. The stress of having to know that, you know, you're at the hands of a court or you've got to go to court or you've got to go and have a mediation. It's not a pleasant process. Most people don't like it, us lawyers, we don't particularly like it either. Especially when it's for ourselves. We do it as a job, but we don't like it when it's for ourselves. So just bear that in mind and follow the right process.

Fire fast and do it right

When I talk about firing fast, I talk about having your deal breakers. So in the workbook, if you go to page six, part three, it's just a very simple page and it's got, what are your dealbreakers?

And this is where I want you to spend some time. I don't, you don't have to write down right now. You can write down a few things, but I'd like you to spend some critical thinking time. Maybe you have half an hour to an hour, and think about what are the deal breakers for employees in your business? Do you want this person, if they do this or they do that? What is the actions that they do that are deal breakers? Write them down now, because if you don't, and then there's a problem in the future, then you may feel that you haven't lived up to your integrity and your business.

So you've made sure that you follow the process, do it right, and get advice, because there are so many nuances in firing someone, that if you don't do it the right way, it will cost you. It just absolutely will. I just can't stress that enough, get advice and actually follow the right process.

And don't take BBQ advice. Get advice from an employment consultant or a lawyer, and it will save you a lot going forward.

So what I'd really like you to, if you haven't done it yet, get that workbook, download it and have a look at the exercises in there. We really want to help you to hire the right people, do it slowly, and then if you do need to get rid of people, if they do cross any red lines that you have, that you find them fast and you follow the right process. There's a lot more that I could go into about all the processes, but I'm not going to bore you with the technical legal jargon except to say, follow that process, and you'll have the right advice going forward.

So just finally this final slide is an offer to, if you want to talk to me about this you will see that there's a link to my website, Jeremystreton.com/innovate-mb, for Moreton Bay. And you can sign up for a call with me and I'm happy to, answer any questions that you've got half an hour, just go through and help you out actually that you do that, right, because when you don't do it right, that's when it can cost you lots of money. And if we can help prevent you from hiring fast and firing slow, then that will save you tens of thousand dollars in the future. So please do that. Please feel free to reach out. And if you've got any questions, just let me know I'd be happy to help. Have a great day.

Podcast

Resources

Download Workbook
WORKBOOK: Hire Slow, Fire Fast (It is recommended to download this workbook prior to starting this module)
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Download Presentation
Hire Slow, Fire Fast (presentation slides)
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