I was exhausted and standing in front of a Customs Official in the Lagos airport.  “Where is your yellow immunization card?”

My face turned yellow I’m sure as my eyes darted through my passport.  I was no stranger to the Nigerian customs process and was usually well thought out and on my game.  Not this trip.

It was a situation where I literally grinned, looked at this powerful lady and said, “E’karo Mommy, se’ dada ni’?”

She laughed cautiously and then asked again in a playfully inquisitive tone, “your yellow card?”  I said with a thoughtful smile, “I will find it.” She waved me through with my passport, visa, and a yellow card I was committed to find.  I eventually did find it.

It was a situation where I sat their metaphorically naked and hoping for the best with noticeable perspiration.

That is the typical posture when hiring a team member, hoping for the best with noticeable perspiration.

As business owners we are constantly working to maximize profit, cash flow and a host of other metrics and deliverables.  Yet when it comes to hiring we look like middle schoolers out on a first date, awkward and out of place.  

Two things that you can install into your business right now to help you mature the process for how you bring in that powerfully important asset and relationship of people into your business.

First, a written hiring process.  An actual process that you will follow no matter how desperate you are for employees nor how well you may know said-candidate.

Important elements of a hiring process combine a mix of subjective (how you feel) and objective (what the data says) points.  

Subjectively, having an initial phone call followed by a series of live meetings.  A live-discussion sequence that we recommend looks like this:

  1. Initial phone call as a simple get-to-know.
  2. Live Interview with a focus on company vision, mission, values, culture, and direction.  There is to be little to no discussion about the actual role. The goal is to find out if they fit the company.  Literally share those elements and have them go home and call you later if they are still interested in the actual job role. 
  3. Live Interview to include other team members over lunch.  The actual role is the focus on this entire discussion along with an initial layout of the company compensation structure although you may not be prepared to discuss an actual compensation offer.
  4. Live Interview over dinner with a spouse or significant-other.  Dave Ramsey says it best, “if we find out you’re not crazy, then we need to confirm that your spouse isn’t crazy because either way, we can’t let crazy in the building!”
  5. Final Offer

“But can’t we do it faster?”  If you want to be less informed and hasty then yes you can.  Part of the value of multiple steps is to intentionally slow down the process so everyone can process all of the information.  

Objectively, here are some elements of the process that will give you hard metrics to look at.

  1. Administering a personality profile (we prefer DISC…it’s simple) is crucial.  You do not want to hire a “people person” for a highly technical, isolated job. Do this for every serious candidate you have.
  2. References.  Yes, ask for them and call every one of them.  You never know and all it takes is one phone call to provide you with more intuition and information that you can ever receive from all of your interviews combined.  
  3. Contract your candidate for a couple of hours to actually work on a project.  Be creative. If you are hiring an Estimator, give them an old bid to estimate.  If you are hiring a Real Estate Attorney, have them write out a simple version of a Real Estate Closing process in their own words.  

All three of the objective opportunities are severely underutilized primarily because they take time and effort.  

Embrace the time and effort.  See it as a gift allowing you to make an incredibly powerful decision.  It’s romantic to think, “I was at a gas station pumping gas and a guy walked up to me and I hired him on the spot and he’s been the best employee I’ve ever had.”  

That may work for your Grandmother’s dating game 70 years ago…but not for hiring.  

Secondly, you need an Onboarding Process.

Day one is no longer day one.  The first day for your new team member is actually the start of their warm up period which should be about 3 months.  

A healthy Onboarding Process will include a simple layout of what the new team member will learn, according to their role, week by week over the first twelve weeks.

Weekly, the new team member will sit with their direct report and walk through a few crucial and well positioned questions and statements…

  • Follow up from discussion last week
  • What are you seeing/thinking?
  • What Blind Spots are we missing?
  • What questions do you have about your role this week?
  • What new ideas do you have?
  • What do you need from me?
  • Here is what I see in you (supervisor)…
  • Action Items to install, improve, etc.

Spend 10 minutes reviewing that list of questions each week with your new team member and your investment will begin returning in a major way.  A simple, implemented onboarding process is one of the simplest ways to ensure your hiring investment. 

As Owners, let’s commit to stop just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best and let’s work the process.

Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose and the host of The Business On Purpose Podcast.  He can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.