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How to Avoid These Top Three Hiring Mistakes

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Throughout my tenure as a business owner in charge of hiring a team, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, which means I’ve also learned my fair share of lessons.

There are two areas that I found are absolute non-negotiables you must consider when you’re looking for someone to support you in your business. They are delegation and reputation management.

Now, these aren’t very “sexy” when it comes to hiring. And they are absolutely essential lessons to consider when hiring a team.

I’ve learned these lessons over the years and hope they’ll save you some time and heartache when you hire in your business.

HOLD ONTO YOUR GENIUS WORK UNTIL YOU MUST DELEGATE…THEN DELEGATE SLOWLY

Let’s say you make pizza. That is your amazing gift. But the real secret of your pizza is your sauce. It’s amazing. And it’s only perfect when you make it. You have a magical flare for making your sauce. 

Do not hire someone to make the sauce.

Hire someone to make the dough, shred the cheese, put the pizza toppings on, or put the pie in a box when it comes fresh out of the oven. 

But do not hire a sauce maker. Why? Because it’s the thing you’re known for. No one can replicate it.

People buy (and enjoy) your pizza, and tell their friends, because of the sauce. Do not give that away. 

Not to mention, by hiring a team to help you with the other stuff, it frees up more time for you to focus on doing what you do best—making your excellent sauce.

Then, it’s time to start delegating your “genius work” slowly.

After hiring out the rest of your pizza building team, you might explore hiring an apprentice to learn from you about how to make the sauce.

(You might think I’m about to contradict myself, but bear with me on this one.)

While the person is learning, you must still be nearly 100% involved in sauce making. And then, when you are absolutely sure they are ready, you can start to give them a shift a week on their own. On, like a Tuesday night, when no one is really ordering pizza. 

Back in the day, young people used to apprentice under master craftsmen for years. Learn from this.

Do not turn over the genius thing you’re known for too quickly. Train. Train. Train. 

Success tip: Observe your people at work. Does someone show a natural ability in your zone of genius? Do they express interest in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, working and learning outside of what you teach them? That’s the kind of apprentice you want! 

DON’T POSTPONE HIRING FOR TOO LONG

Hiring someone to help in your business may lead to some crunchy feelings. Relinquishing control is not the easiest thing to do. And I beg you… please don’t let fear keep you from hiring.

Fear says you’ll hire, train the person, and they’ll leave. And that could happen. Fear might also say that hiring your genius work out is like training your competition. 

Here’s the distinction.

Just because you’re hiring a great sauce maker does not mean you’re hiring a person with aspirations to own a pizza shop.

Understanding the goals of your people can be critical in choosing who to hire. Fear might convince you that your employee is only out to steal your sauce making secrets, but that may not be true.

Success tip: Ask questions during the hiring process to discover the person’s truest motivations. Then, follow your gut.

HIRE FOLKS WHO ARE AS PROUD OF YOUR BRAND AS YOU ARE 

When you’ve decided to turn over your sauce making more consistently to your apprentice, it’s possible they may make some mistakes. While you must give them the benefit of the doubt, you’ve got to protect your reputation.

While I tell my team the buck stops with me, I have also learned that I can trust my team to do their best work. They understand that their focused effort directly contributes to how my brand is perceived.

This is especially true of my assistant and anyone who works directly with my clients. 

So, I encourage you to listen to your customers and clients. They’ll let you know if something isn’t right. If someone is unhappy with your product or service, do whatever you must to make it right.

Your reputation is everything. Do whatever must be done to protect it, including hiring folks who treat your brand as if it is their own.

It doesn’t take much time for people to realize if your quality is starting to slip. And when they notice, they’ll start telling other people.

Don’t allow a few dollars to cost you your reputation. Make things right no matter what.

When you’re hiring in your business, whether it’s the sauce maker or the baker, you need to take your time. If you knee jerk react into hiring and pick the wrong person, no amount of training or free pizza will compensate for the mistake. Finding the right person is essential. 

If you’re not sure how to hire, start here:

  1. Write a full job description detailing not just the tasks, but also the characteristics of the person you’re looking to work with. You’re hiring a person, not a machine.
  2. Use story-based interview questions, Kolbe scores, and competency wheels to aid you in conducting a great interview and getting the perfect person for the job. 

I hope these lessons will help you as you look to delegate and scale in your business. Keep in mind that for most of my clients (solo business owners offering services), these guidelines definitely apply.

Growing can be scary. It involves a lot of trust, and some loss of control. It can also mean some bumps along the road. But hiring a great team can also catapult your business to the next level. 

Just imagine everything you could accomplish if you could free up some of your time. Time that you could spend growing your brand, investing in your business, and being the leader you were born to be. 

I hope that by sharing the lessons I learned along the way, you can feel confident in building your dream team! So tell me, are you ready to hire your sauce maker?

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