Crucial conversations for entrepreneurs and investors:#1 Hiring

7 Jan

Crucial hiring conversation

“People problems” are one of the most challenging issues faced by entrepreneurs and employers Before becoming a Financial Advisor for entrepreneurs in Toronto, I owned, operated and eventually sold two language schools. I remember many sleepless nights, especially at the beginning, fretting about who to hire, how to motivate an employee to do better, what to do about warring staff members, deciding if was time to let someone go etc.

Opening the door to the wrong employee can have a devastating effect on your team, your customers and your bottom line. Conversely, when you find a star, everything runs so much more smoothly.

crucial hiring conversationWhen I first began hiring employees, I made many mistakes (and slept badly). Fortunately, I learned smart ways to interview through experts who presented at TEC (The Executive Council). Putting that new knowledge into practice kept me out of trouble and let me sleep better at night.

You need to prepare for the crucial hiring conversation. Invest the time to design the job description, the education and skills required to do the job role properly, and the personality type that will both do well in this job and fit in with the rest of your team.

In order to recognize a promising candidate you also have to know the right questions to ask and the best answers to those questions. I also found it extremely useful to know the answers I didn’t want to hear, so that I could disqualify any candidates who gave those answers.

One part of this critical conversation involves outside participation. I got so much important information when I or another staff member said good-bye to the candidate. When the candidate thinks the interview is over, there is a tendency to go off script. You may get a new appreciation of some traits that were being hidden during the formal interview. For example, one time we didn’t hire a young woman who claimed in the interview to love a busy office, and then on the way out admitted to my assistant that she felt overwhelmed by the number of students milling about the reception area.

When you hire a Financial Advisor, think like an employer. Ask yourself what kind of job you want your Advisor to do for you, and what kind of person you like to work with? When I incorporated my company many years ago, I was referred to two lawyers. This first one rapidly boiled his services down to: “I can do this for $600 and it will take one week.” The second one sat down in my office and wanted to know more about me and the business before telling me what he could do. My reaction: when I need legal advice, I would certainly be comfortable asking Lawyer #2 and not Lawyer #1 so I hired #2 (and he’s still my lawyer today).

A Financial Advisor cannot give you the right advice unless he or she takes the time to get to know you, your business, your stage in life, the risks you may face, and your hopes and dreams for the future. There are many investment and insurance products to choose from, and an Advisor can only recommend the best ones for you after you have had this crucial hiring conversation.

Before you interview for the Advisor position, prepare a profile of your ideal candidate and the qualifications you want him/her to have. Then prepare the questions you want answered (with both your ideal answers and the answers you don’t want to hear). Take your time, hire only when you find one you think you will want to keep forever, and remember the small talk at the end of the meeting may reveal the most crucial information of the whole interview.
It’s just good advice.