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How to Hire the Best Team

The team is the lifeblood of amazing Customer service.  The stakes for hiring and training the right team “on the ground” are extremely high, because you can have the most amazing product and talented leadership, but without the right Associate base, you will never find success.

There is a common misconception out there – Leaders will often believe that they can hire just anyone and train them to win.

I think that is a recipe for disaster, as in large businesses, Leaders simply cannot exert the muscle needed to pull the team to the finish line every single day.  This may be something that can be sustained short term, but anyone playing the longer game sees the quicksand lurking in this strategy.

I was once involved in a new opening that could have been smoother in terms of staffing. We found ourselves struggling to get enough people in position to deliver the level of service our Guests deserve and demand.   This did lead to some disgruntled Customers, because your average Guest has no idea what it takes to get Associates hired and trained to serve them.  Nor should they have to worry about it, as it is our responsibility to make sure our organizations are stocked with amazing talent.

Whether you have experienced this first hand, or you have visited a new business that didn’t seem quite ready to open, you can understand the frustration that understaffing can bring.  This will not only lead to long waits, but there is another repercussion when businesses finally get their work force staffed.  Suddenly there are more than enough bodies to fill all the necessary positions and serve Guests, but they arrived at the same time and no one has been trained.

Hiring folks into the organization is just the first step – they then have to be trained and onboarded.

Here are some basic tips to stay ahead of your hiring curve:

  1. ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME FOR THE HIRING PROCESS.  If you are a new business, a cyclical business, or a seasonal business, you have a natural advantage.  If you are opening from scratch or launching a new initiative, you have your drop dead date.  You know when you are opening your doors or when you need more staff for your expansion.  If you happen to be a seasonal business such as summer construction or a retailer gearing up for Black Friday, then you know when you need that extra staff.  If you have normal ebbs and flows throughout the year, likely you can look at a calendar and know when those are coming.  So here is the key:  walk back from those dates and start hiring accordingly.  It doesn’t sound difficult does it?  But so many issues could be avoided at holiday retailers and amusement parks alike if folks just heeded that simple piece of advice.  Remember, in most cases, you can’t just flip the switch either.  You have to advertise, interview, background check, onboard, and train – and that all has to happen BEFORE they can touch a single Guest.

  2. DON’T RUSH THE HIRING PROCESS:  We’ve discussed this before, but it takes twice as long if you aren’t diligent in the hiring process.  When you panic and hire the first 20 people who walk in, you’ll find that you’ll get more time to practice interviewing very soon – because 60% of them won’t make it.  You have to advertise in the right places, always be on the look out for star talent, and then take the time to get to know them during the interview.  This can be easily solved with a little care – but that doesn’t mean it will be stress free.  The deadline will be looming, your bosses will be screaming, and your head will be full of worst case scenarios. . . But you’ll need to pour a glass of chocolate milk (or bourbon) and take a breath.  You will find the right people, but you’ll have to dig for them.  I have no shame, myself.  I carry business cards with a link to my hiring site with me at all times, and I hand them out anytime I meet a service star.  I don’t care if they are in my line of work or not – good people are good people.  There are no less than three drive throughs and two restaurants that I’m banned from because I keep poaching their talent.  My thinking is that if you are treaing your folks right, I shouldn’t be able to steal them.  So game on!

  3. DON’T HIRE AWFUL EMPLOYEES:  This one will take care and dedication.  When you bring your folks in for the interview, you have to strive to select the best possible talent.  You should always walk into an interview with a plan – use an interview guide, take care with the questions you ask, take notes, and LISTEN.  There is no doubt that you want to take the time to discuss the job at hand and set the expectations for the kind of team member you want to hire.  That will avoid misunderstandings about cultural fit later, but you have to give your candidate a chance to talk.  Have you ever been in an interview and left wondering how they would ever find out anything about you since you didn’t get to say two words?  I have been there, too, and thought the same thing.  Ask those open ended questions that will give you insight into their behaviors and work ethic.  These often begin with “tell me about a time,” and although they may seem cliché, anything that can get your potential new employee to open up is never trite.  You will find when you review resumes and applications closely, ask deep questions, and take your time, that you won’t hire everyone who walks in.  Be selective and know that you will have to talk to more people than you have in the past to fill each role – which is the beginning of great progress.

So take the time to understand your business and who you want to trust and empower to serve your Guests.

Remember that the service you give will never be greater than the sum of your team, so hire wisely.

Best wishes in your staffing endeavors and remember, treat every Guest like a cherished friend.


Tony Johnson Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker

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