I once spoke with a former COO of Disney and had a brief conversation about how he spent the allotment of time he devoted to work each week.

His response was, “I spend 60% of my week trying to find the right people to bring into Disney.”

In my head, I’m thinking, “you mean to tell me that you are basically devoting all of Monday, all of Tuesday, and all of Wednesday to finding and hiring people?”

He obsessed over finding and developing the right people to fit the mission of Disney because he realized that the amusement of Disney is a commodity, you can find similar amusement at Six Flags, Carowinds, or any number of other theme parks around the world. 

What makes Disney of higher customer value is the non-commodity part of Disney…people.

Coffee is basically coffee.  What makes a great coffee experience is the barista who remembers your name and remembers that your Kindergartener just had graduation last week.

Hotel rooms are basically hotel rooms.  What makes a great guest stay experience is the person at the front desk making you feel like you are the only guest.  

Our product or service, whether it is ice cream, a five million dollar custom home, or a consultation, is simply a commodity.  What makes it a repeatable experience is the person facilitating the relationship.

All of a sudden, you realize why the former COO of Disney would spend at least three days out of every week locked in on finding and developing the right people.

As business owners recruit and train, there are at least five common mistakes that owners make that sabotage their product experience.

Lead Well.

If you’re looking for more resources to work ON your business, we have them. 

The first mistake we make in hiring employees is making excuses about why we can’t find people to hire.

Hiring is hard work and requires grit and grind.  Very few businesses in the world have a line of people standing outside of their metaphorical door awaiting the slim chance of entry.  

We must treat hiring with the same reverence, passion, skill, strategy, and accountability that we treat sales, operations, and accounting.  

In a market where there are plenty of applicants, you must do the hard work of making your business attractive and irresistible, ensuring clear expectations, over communication, and motivational fit.

In a market where there are very few applicants, you must do the hard work of making your business attractive and irresistible, ensuring clear expectations, over communication, and motivational fit (aka – the same work).

Stop making excuses and start making blocked time in your weekly schedule to shake the bushes and let the world know that you’ve got a great opportunity available.

The second mistake we make in hiring employees is being unclear about what we are asking them to do.

Let’s be blunt.  Please, WRITE A CLEAR JOB ROLE.

There, I said it.  

There is no magic to this.  What is the role that you are asking them to do?

Write it down in plain language.  

No corporate speak.  

Don’t say you want a self-starter or someone who is results-oriented unless you are hiring a sales person or a visionary.  Otherwise, realize that 86% of the world’s population (according to PeopleKeys) have a passive personality which means they are awaiting instruction.

Map out all of the elements that you are asking of them day to day.

Don’t stop there, also provide an example weekly schedule of what their week might look like hour by hour and day by day.

You might say, “that’s unreasonable.”

My response, “then you are not ready to hire.”

In fact, please don’t hire if you are unwilling to bring clarity through a written role and written model weekly schedule.  You are setting your new employee up for failure and it is not fair to them or their family, and it will negatively impact your business.

The third mistake we make in hiring employees is we have no idea what a new hire compensation will do to our finances.

Breaking even on a role is not a profitably winning strategy.  We’ve heard many owners say, “if we can just sell X widgets then we will break even on this role.”

Let’s shift our mindset to seeing employees as investment in growth.

Many business owners use a 1 to 3 ratio when thinking through how to compensate an employee.  For every dollar invested in an employee, the expectation is that the employee’s work would return three dollars of real revenue (total revenue minus cost of goods sold).

It might be more, but we hope it would not be a lot less.  Each employee is not brought in to just fill time and space, but instead to push the business ahead profitably towards its powerful mission.

The fourth mistake we make in hiring employees, and this mistake is widespread, is neglecting to properly onboard and then wonder why the new employee feels lost but won’t say anything.

The challenges we have with employees six months and six years from now are challenges that could be prevented if we are willing to make the time and put the hard work in now.

Hard work is not taking a mindset with employees that each should exhibit common sense.  Candidly the idea of common sense may be a misnomer.

In many cases, the things that are “common” to you may not be “common” to me even if we live in the same community.

I still don’t understand some of the things my own neighbors do.

Relying on an adherence to common sense is a losing strategy.  

Instead, we should intentionally bake in a defined, scripted onboarding process that includes at least three items.

First item is a scripted, hour-by-hour weekly schedule over four weeks so the new employee does not feel lost.

Second item is a set time weekly for your new team member to meet with the owner or supervisor for a fifteen to twenty-minute check-in.

Third item is a written list of questions that the owner or supervisor will ask during that weekly check-in time.  Questions like what are you seeing and thinking?  What questions do you have about your role?  What do you need from me?

Also, use that time to offer feedback to your new team member with your insight to this statement, here is what I see in you and what I need from you.

Most business cultures do not have a predictable platform for employees to have encouraging and/or challenging conversations.

You must make time for this and implement it.

When a new employee comes into your business, they have a fresh perspective on the business that you will never get back so make the time to mine their perspective and learn!

The fifth mistake we make in hiring employees is not intentionally building our culture and instead just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

Culture is a biology term and draws its roots from works like tend and cultivate.

We must stop thinking that certain businesses are “lucky” because they have a good culture and other businesses are “unlucky” because they have a bad culture.

Your culture is a direct result of what you tend and cultivate.  If you don’t like it, uncross your fingers and start tending and cultivating different habits, tools, conversations, meetings, goals, etc.

Build culture has little to do with ping pong tables and bean bag chairs. and has more to do with written vision, mission, values, team meetings, clear expectations, regular feedback, encouragement, and challenge

There is actually one more mistake that business owners make in the hiring process, and it starts before the hiring process even begins.

The unknown mistake that we make in hiring is recruiting.

We treat the recruitment of potential first-class employees like the beat-up computer kiosk in the dark corner of the Wal-Mart customer service area.  

We just throw it out to a few people, “hey we need a insert-role-name-here” and then hope they are powerfully motivated by our half-hearted approach and mindlessly submit an application.

We bring passion in marketing our business for external customers (those that purchase your goods and services), it is crucial that you begin to think of the pre-hiring process as marketing for internal customers (those that deliver your goods and services). 

I’ll never forget walking into the recruiting room at the collegiate football powerhouse Clemson University.  The room was filled with life, orange everywhere, and two huge floor-to-ceiling whiteboards that were filled with the last names of high school athletes from around the world.  There is a full-time staff devoted and obsessed with finding the right athletes to fill the roles they are looking for.  

When you are recruited by a collegiate football team, the red carpet is rolled out and the process is clear from front to back.  Do we do that with our business?  Why not?

Let’s stop playing games with hiring and remember that this is the livelihood of you and your family and your employees and their families.  

Let’s take hiring off of the back burner and let’s treat it with the same vigor that we treat marketing to external customers.

Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters.  Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.