Finding a Perfect Employee

As the weather begins to warm up, many people start making plans for what they will be planting in their gardens.  My husband has done a lot of yard work recently in preparation for spring, so personally, I am looking forward to all of the new opportunities I have to kill plants this year! Gardening is definitely not my strong suit, but I do like for our yard to look nice, so every year I try new things and eventually I will find the hardiest of perennials and won’t have to worry about it again.  In addition to planting flowers and possibly even vegetables, it is also important to think about any other lawn care treatments you need and if it is advisable to do them in the spring.  At our house, we are about to have some sod laid down where we used to have trees.  We did this last year as well, and for many reasons are hoping for a very different experience this time around!

Last year, not only did much of our sod die due to lack of sunlight, but one of the men tasked with laying it down was a shockingly terrible employee.  This was surprising because we have always had great experiences with our lawn care company, so when I looked out my window to see him hauling in the sod with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, I was a little taken aback.  Then about 10 minutes later when I looked again and he was sitting in a lawn chair talking on his phone, I started to get a little ticked.  The last straw was when I glanced out my back window and he was sitting in one of our patio chairs next to the house smoking another cigarette, and I finally had to speak up.  Not only to him, but to the company he worked for.  I don’t typically complain in this way, but this seemed like something they would be interested in hearing about – if it were my company, I know I would want to hear about it!  The worst part was that the other men were working so hard, picking up the slack for the lazy employee who had barely broken a sweat.  So the question is, how do you avoid hiring employees like this one at your company?  How do you find someone who perfectly suits your needs?

I had the experience of owning a company with my husband for a few years, and as it operated in another state it was important to hire a director who we could trust, one that was a self-starter and motivated even though we, the owners, would not be around on a daily basis.  Our first attempt at finding this dream employee was not successful, I’m afraid.  We were so excited to get started, that he – I mean we – thought it would be best to just get a warm body in the position, regardless of their experience or work ethic.  Obviously this was a terrible idea, and the first person we hired did not last long!  If only we could have inspired this kind of honesty in our original interview, maybe we would not have gone down that road:

The second time around, we were much more prepared.  We checked references and social media (had we done this with the first employee we would not have hired her!).  We spoke to him a lot and were very transparent about the duties the job would entail.  After a much longer period of time the second time around, we all agreed that it would be a great fit.  And boy was it!  Mike was a wonderful, responsible and caring member of our team, and although we no longer own the company, he is still directing and we know he will continue to do great things in his career.  So what tips do I have for you in your search for the perfect employee?  Here are just a few:

  1.  Check references!  I don’t know how many places I’ve worked where the references never get called. Make sure to research your state laws on what the former employer can tell you, and if you can get more information in written form.
  2.  Check social media – like it or not, this is a great way to get a more personal look at your prospective employee.  No one is going to show up to an interview dressed or behaving like they would on a Saturday night out with friends.  But think about the kind of person you want representing your company, and be sure that their values are in line with yours.
  3. Make sure the job description you give them is an accurate portrayal of what their duties will be. There is no benefit to “tricking” someone into taking a job that they might not want, or even be qualified for.  You might be tempted to spice up the description a bit, or leave out unappealing parts of the job just to get some applicants in.  But this just wastes their time and yours.  Inevitably you will need to rehire for this position, and will end up paying someone for weeks who is not performing to the highest standards.
  4. Consider a creative interview – sitting with someone in a formal setting, asking and answering questions is not always the best way to gauge their potential with your company.  When I was interviewing for preschool soccer coaches, I instructed them to wear their tennis shoes to the group interview, as they would be teaching a segment of a class to the rest of the group!  You do run the risk of turning away someone who is a little more reserved, but ultimately this particular position wouldn’t fit well with a reserved personality so it was a risk I was willing to take.
  5. Don’t stop at the interview!  Continue educating your employees and offering them a positive work environment that they feel passionate about.  Your company’s culture is what will keep your excellent employees around for many years to come!

Hopefully these tips give you some ideas for finding a great employee for your company! Remember that no one is perfect, but it is possible to find someone who is perfect for your business.




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