Starting and Managing a Business for Profits and Wealth Part 7: Recruiting and Retaining the Right Talent

One of the areas that I have learnt in the last 20 over years of running businesses is to build the right team. Recruiting the right talent into your organization is a critical skill that all business owners needs to learn and cannot really be delegated. Business is known to fail not because it does not have a great product service or strategy. In any business execution is key: the ability to deliver value to the customers effectively. You will need a good team to do that. Another constant frustration for business owner is the inability to retain good talents

So how can you avoid making an unsuitable hire? The solution is to learn to spot the danger signals that indicate trouble. These signs are often overlooked by eager employers who are impressed with a candidate’s appearance or personality, or are simply in a rush to fill a vacancy.

Common Mistakes

There are some telling signs to indicate if a candidate is merely on a fishing expedition to find out what’s available in the market and what their market value is. Did the applicant fail to ask probing questions regarding career advancement and the future direction of the company? Did she appear reluctant to give clear examples of previous accomplishments? Was she evasive about prior job responsibilities? Did the candidate hesitate or show a lack of eagerness to accept the position? And did he give you a good reason why he has three jobs in three years?
Ironically, many employers do, in fact, see all the red flags right from the start. And yet they make the costly mistake in hiring the person despite the signals. It may be because they were too keen to fill the vacancy.

A common hiring mistake is a syndrome that management consultants call the “halo effect.” Employers tend to hire someone who is the mirror image of themselves, even if the applicant is not quite right for the position. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with choosing candidates because they fit in with the prevailing culture. But of equal importance is to find someone who can do the job – compatibility shouldn’t be your only criterion. The right person – even if he or she doesn’t have the exact mix of education or experience you were looking for – can rise to the occasion and grow into the job.

Another common mistake is that employers sometimes hide undesirable aspects of the company or overstate chances for advancement in order to attract top performers. If the promised promotions or pay rises don’t materialize, ambitious achievers will look elsewhere for opportunities to advance. You can also lose a capable staff if his talents aren’t recognized.

Be careful not allow you emotions to influence your hiring decisions. To avoid falling into this trap, there are a few simple techniques that will help you distance yourself from the process when interviewing the candidate, and thus be in a better position to evaluate their strengths and weakness objectively.

Give applicants ample opportunity to sell themselves. Ask them about their accomplishments. How do their previous contributions to their former employers relate to the new position? What can they do for you? Observe the applicants’ behavior and attitude. Are they enthusiastic? Or do they just sit back impassively. If so, they may not be genuinely interested in the post, or simply may not be quick thinkers. In either case they’re not the people you want on your team.


What about the manageability of the recruited staff? The candidate may appear impressive, with the right educational background and experiences, but if he’s not manageable, it’s not going to be a long-term solution.

To be successful in hiring, you have to build a three-dimensional picture of the short listed candidates. First, look inside and examine the skeleton with questions designed to reveal ability to perform on the job. Then you have to put flesh on the bones with questions that will determine the person’s willingness. Only then can you see the whole person and decide whether she is going to be manageable.

We need to ask question not only to find out what kind of staff the candidate is going to be like, but also if she will fit in with how you run your business. We should hire only people who are manageable by us, not only by some imaginary super boss. You really need to honest with yourself as to what kind of a boss you are.

Some questions we should ask are: “How do you take directions?” “How did your current boss get the best out of you?” “What do you think of him or her?” “What are some of the things which you and your boss disagreed on?” “Describe the best boss you have ever had,” followed by “What made him or her stand out?” “When was the last time you felt anger on the job?” “What kind of rewards are most satisfying to you?”

As a boss, you may be the let em-alone type, in which case you shouldn’t hire candidates whose answers fairly scream that they need constant supervision and reinforcement. On the other hand, if you are an autocratic boss, you are unlikely to have a happy relationship with creative self-starters who would resent supervision. You know yourself better than anyone else, and that knowledge should tell you how suitable the candidate is, based on her answers to some of the above questions.

Retaining The Good Ones

Now that you have smoked out the right candidates who are able to do the job, willing to work with commitment, and able to be managed comfortably by you, the next vital points is how to keep them.

Remember that candidates are not just taking a job; they are opting for the whole package – the company, the location, the working environment. If you want to retain your most valued employees, you must create a climate that’s hospitable to quality staff. Ironically, many businesses companies’ internal policies or cultures virtually guarantee failure so that many new staff, no matter how qualified, just doesn’t last. Especially if you are having a Gen Y staff force and you are still managing them the old archaic ways. YOU have to start making changes.

The key to keeping talented people is by being a good boss yourself. If the workplace is a source of gratification, not irritation, then you will have succeeded in making it a place that’s just too good to leave. If people see a future in your organization for themselves, they will stay. And if they jump out of bed every morning excited about their organizations’ vision and can see how they are contributing and they are appreciated for their contributions; then you know you got it right.

One more word about recruiting; surround yourself with people smarter than you and your business will fly.

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