There are countless books, movies and tips on how to hire the ‘right’ employee. Let’s cut to the chase– there is no such thing as the ‘perfect fit’. However it helps to compare employees to furniture.
Think of a three legged stool. With three equal bases, the stool is properly balanced and almost impossible to knock over. You cannot beat having three legs on a stool. The same goes for employees!
THE THREE LEGS
Like the stool, each employee needs three (3) key attributes to maintain the proper balance and the right ‘center-of-gravity’ within a company. They are:
- Hard skills – Those skills necessary to do the fundamental job hired for (i.e. answer the phone, analyze financials, run the computer, balance the books, etc).
- Soft skills – The knack for friendliness and courtesy. Saying “hello, please, thank you and goodbye,” along with the ability to communicate well. Think of it in terms of customer service and communication.
- Culture fit – Possessing the same work ethic and desire for growth as the company.
Hard skills are very easy to fixate on. They are the nuts and bolts of the employer search; finding someone who can do exactly what is needed. While hard skills are very important, do not lose sight of the two other important features of what makes an employee a great fit within a company: the soft skills and fit within the culture.
Soft skills are a no-brainer for positions with customer interaction. They can be broken down into 2 categories: soft skills in terms of business environment and personal soft skills.
- Customer Service: Can an employee interact with customers? Employees must be friendly, courteous and represent the company in its best light with customers. After all, customers represent the life-blood of a company: revenue. In a business where everyone has strong soft skills, you create a fun, positive environment where customer relationships come naturally.
- Communication: Can an employee communicate effectively? It’s simple, if an employee cannot articulate themself clearly there is a breakdown with customer and within the company. When employees are unable, unwilling or afraid to voice their concerns, the company suffers.
Now, we see a lot of great companies with great products or services having trouble with customer retention. Why? Generally speaking, this is usually due to employees that have little or no soft skills. Customers like to associate with others who are friendly, helpful and make them feel valued. Unfriendly or inattentive employees can push customers away—for good!
Culture fit is one of the harder elements to identify. Ideally you love your business and want your employees to feel the same way! You want to find employees who share your work ethic and goals.
If you constantly work overtime, are you going to be okay with a nine-to-fiver? Or, do you need someone who is willing to burn the midnight oil?
Consider two different business owners: The first is an A-type personality, who works hard toward a set 5-year exit strategy. The second owner does not care about making a profit but cares dearly about promoting a healthy lifestyle. Is it possible for the same employee to be successful in both companies?
In short, feel free to compare your employees to furniture, just don’t treat them like it! The employee/employer relationship is a two-way street and individuals who bring a balanced mix of hard skills, soft skills and culture fit will be far happier and longer-lasting than individuals who possess only hard skills. A hard skills only employee will ultimately lead to frustration and a quick turnover–in that employee, as well as customers.
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