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The Exclusive Magazine for the Building Service Contracting Industry Since 1981
August 29, 2012

Building a Successful Team

Written by  Matthew Stowe

Building Successful Team

There is a strong connection between a person’s level of fear and their potential to succeed. Unfortunately, fear is systemic in many of today’s workplaces. Indeed, many work environments are managed through philosophies based on fear and anger. To this end, fear is one of the main reasons many leaders fail, many employees defer, and many companies die. A simple acronym for the word fear is “false evidence appearing real.”

Building a staff that succeeds starts with finding a great team. The most important attribute of a high-quality team member is courage. In organizations that thrive, there are more courageous decision makers than simple factory-line workers. Of course, there is a place for both types of people, and all team members will be respected for the contributions they give, but an individual’s decision-making ability is key to their ability to handle fear. It takes courage to make important decisions, because such decisions can produce highly positive results or terrible results, depending on the circumstances. Courage is not an easy thing to measure, but it can be uncovered through a detailed recruiting and interviewing process.

Unfortunately, most interviews are filled with theatrics and a lot of huffing and puffing of egos. You want to sell your company because you need someone to fill the position, and applicants want to sell themselves because they need a job. In an interview, preparing lots of good questions is an important strategy for. But coming up with great questions is not always as easy as it sounds: you need to know exactly what to ask. To develop good interview questions, use the SEARCH model below.

Know Who You Are Looking For

What kind of employee do you want? For successful placement, the SEARCH model is your foundation. Starting with Skills, list at least three attributes for each SEARH category. These attributes should be the personal qualities you’d expect to find in the perfect employee. Next, highlight your top three attributes in each category. These attributes will be “must-haves” for any person you hire. This is a very important step, and the results will be used for the rest of the process. While completing this model is time consuming, and it’s vital because this is where most managers fail when hiring.

S = SKILLS (What work skills do they need to perform the job?)

E = EXPERIENCE (What level of experience should they have?)

A = ATTITUDE (What personality traits are most important for the position?)

R = RESULTS (What tangible evidence do they have of their onthe- job success?)

C = COGNITIVE ABILITIES (What critical-thinking skills must they possess?)

H = HABITS (What consistent patterns of behavior do they need to succeed?)

Decide Where to Look

Ads in the local newspaper, Craigslist, referrals from other employees, as well as friends and family are all sources for finding potential employees. Wherever you decide to look, the goal is to locate candidates who can hold up against your SEARCH model. This will be decidedly more difficult with friends and family, which is why I discourage the hiring of family members and friends. It’s often much harder to manage an employee relationship when the person is also your sibling or best friend. Besides, the reason most new managers consider family and friends is because they don’t have a good process in place to locate people outside of their own relatives and social circle.

Create an Interview Process

There are numerous interviewing methods you can use, but it’s highly important that you select employees in the same way each time. Though it may be tempting, don’t change your process if the person is a friend, relative, or someone referred to you by a trusted advisor. Such consistency will ensure you’re able to measure the effectiveness of your interviewing process and initiate changes when need be. Consider these questions when developing your interview process:

• How many people will you hire?

• What is the compensation for the position?

• Will the role be frontline or customer facing?

• Will interacting with people be done in person or over the phone?

• Is the role highly structured or more creative?

Depending on your answers to these questions, there are several interview styles you can use:

• Face-to-face: Completed with the candidate and yourself at your office. This interview takes the longest amount of time to conduct (30 to 90 minutes).

• Telephone: Best used to confirm information and ask basic questions about their background, availability, etc. (5 to15 minutes)

• Multi-candidate (Group Briefing): This interview is a very effective way to easily weed out the people who are not a good fit for high-pressure positions. It also allows for you to quickly communicate detailed information to lots of candidates. This method is highly recommended.

• Multi-interviewer: When you don’t want to rely solely on your own judgment or if the candidate will be working in close proximity to many others, you might want to have more than one person doing the interviewing.

Oftentimes, the best interview process is one that uses a blend of multiple interview styles. The following is an example of how such a process might work:

1. Conduct a phone interview to confirm information on an application or resume.

2. Invite the candidate to a group briefing where more information will be given

3. At the conclusion of the briefing, hold 5-minute mini-interviews.

4. At the conclusion of the mini-interviews, determine which candidates should be invited to a face-to-face interview.

5. Conduct background checks, credit checks, DMV checks, drug tests and/or reference checks. If everything checks out, continue with face-to-face interview.

6. During the face-to-face interview, you’ll be asking questions to determine if they fit your top-three attributes for each SEARCH category. Candidates will likely have their own questions, but be careful not let them take control of the interview. Be okay with stopping the interview at any time if you feel the person is not a fit. 7. Begin the on-boarding process.

Depending on the position you’re looking to fill, the interview process may vary. For example, if you’re hiring a salesperson, the process will likely be much different than when hiring a CEO. No matter what process you use, stay consistent and check-in with a trusted advisor to discuss concerns with either the applicants or the process.

Employee Development

Once you’ve hired the right person, make sure you give them the attention they need and help them achieve their goals. Every person has a different definition of success, and it’s your job to find out what it is. Of course, if their goals do not align with your company’s goals, there may be a problem. Typically, managers manage by emergency and give little time to employees after they have been hired. This results in rebellious-like employee behavior, like showing up late or leaving without notice. The actual job of a manager is to maintain relationships with their staff and determine how you can help them achieve their goals. This can be time consuming, and the return on your investment is not quickly realized, but when you help an employee become successful, it’s more than worth your time and effort. No amount of fear or incentive management can replace an employee that is intrinsically motivated.

Tips for Employee Development

• Set a time for 30 minutes each week to meet with the employee. This is referred to as a Supervisory Conference. During these meetings, discuss what they are frustrated with, what their development needs are, and most importantly, use the meeting to level with one another. If the employee does not tell you what they are feeling, they will likely tell someone else, and that can result in inner office gossip, distrust, and poor retention.

• Help them achieve their goals. If you don’t know what they want for themselves you have no way of helping them achieve. As their “boss,” you have more financial control over their achievement than anyone else. If they put in the effort to achieve, you should give them the resources to support their effort. This includes training, mentoring, supervising, and leadership. As they achieve, they help you achieve, which provides you with a healthy bottom line and the chance to increase wages—a true win-win.

• Use the SEARCH model to develop them. The employee should have a copy of the SEARCH list, so they can find their weaknesses, and with your support, turn them into strengths. Change is hard, but if they want to change, it makes it much easier.

Of course, this process isn’t foolproof, and some employees will fail even if you follow it to the letter. But don’t be easily discouraged: try again and again with other candidates before you think about abandoning the process. After all, once you’ve developed a fearless, motivated team that is truly able to achieve their goals, you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.

Matthew Stowe is the Chief Operating Officer of OctoClean Franchising Systems, Inc., which is headquartered in Riverside, California. Matt began his career in the janitorial industry as a crew member with Service Pros in 1992. His past positions with Service Pros and OctoClean have included crew leader, sales executive, training director, and vice president of sales and marketing. OctoClean specializes in providing housekeeping services to hospitals and medical facilities, as well as general janitorial to educational institutions and commercial buildings. Contact Matt directly at mstowe@octoclean. com or visit OctoClean’s blog at http://info.octoclean.com/blog.

Last modified on March 07, 2016

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