Chapter 13 – Running a Small Business with Employees

Many contractors find that their biggest difficulty is in the area of employees. There are so many things that can go wrong with employees that it can seem almost impossible to figure out how to solve all the problems having to do with them. Fortunately, there is a simple way to resolve almost all of these problems.

REWARD THE GOOD EMPLOYEES — REMOVE THE BAD EMPLOYEES

This sounds so simple. I can just imagine some contractor who has spent the last ten years trying to figure out how to handle his employees reading this. How dare I claim that a solution to all his unsolvable employee problems could be so simple. But, really, it is.

A good employee is very simple to deal with. He comes to work on time, every day. He rarely gets sick. He gets his job done without a lot of attention on your part. He does what he says he will do. Your customers like him. You like him. Simple.

A bad employee has lots of personal problems. He is often late, and he is frequently sick. Wherever he goes, he will cause problems. He often does not do what he said that he would do. Because it is your business, you will have to solve the problems he causes, so you will find yourself spending lots of time trying to solve strange and unusual problems that you don’t quite know what to do with. All very complex.

You will find that if you get rid of your bad employees, you will also get rid of these strange and unusual problems as well. Of course, an even better way to handle bad employees is to not hire them in the first place. And there are ways to spot them before you hire them, which will save you a lot of problems. Here are some of the signs of bad employees:

1. YOU DON’T LIKE THEM

2. THEY CAN’T COMMUNICATE WELL

3. THEY COMPLAIN ABOUT THEIR PAST EMPLOYERS

4. THEY DO NOT KEEP AGREEMENTS

5. THEY TALK SLOWLY AND MOVE SLOWLY

6. THEY DON’T ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS FULLY

7. THEY DON’T HAVE AN ADDRESS

8. THEY DON’T HAVE A PHONE NUMBER

9. THEY CAN’T GIVE YOU ANY EARLIER JOB REFERENCES

10. THEIR REFERENCES DON’T CHECK OUT

Do you think that this is a terribly unfair list? Well, you’re right. It is an unfair list. I’ll bet that you can think of a good reason why someone could demonstrate any one of these characteristics and still be a good employee. I’m sure that I could, too. Nevertheless, if you hire a person with any of these characteristics, there is at least a ninety-five percent chance that you will end up wishing you hadn’t.

I know that it is popular to be kind and forgiving and nice and helpful to others who are not as fortunate as you are. I also know that if you do this as a business activity, you will destroy your company financially.

If you want to be successful in the area of employees, you should follow the policy of rewarding your good employees and getting rid of or simply not hiring bad employees. If you can apply this policy to every aspect of your relationship with employees, you will find that you will do well as an employer.

HIRING

Finding and hiring employees can be very time-consuming. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the time. The first step is to get the word out that you need to hire someone. Here are some of the ways that you can do this:

1. Tell your friends.

2. Have your current employees tell their friends.

3. Keep an ongoing list of all the people who ask about working for you and call them when you are ready to hire someone.

4. Put an ad on internet websites like Craig’s List (I added this line on 12-16-09) or in the newspaper.

5. Ask other contractors if they know of anyone who is looking for a job.

SCREENING APPLICANTS

When a potential employee calls you looking for a job, you can save a lot of time by doing a brief interview over the phone rather than having him come in to your office.

The first rule of screening applicants is to end the interview as soon as you have decided that you don’t want to hire him. There is no point in wasting either his or your time. So, what you do is just start asking the potential employee questions. At any point in the interview, if you decide that you don’t want to hire the guy, you thank him and tell him that you will call him back later if you are interested in hiring him. If he says that he doesn’t have a phone, you can tell him that it is company policy not to hire people who cannot be reached by phone.

By the way, you don’t have to lie to anyone. Just say something truthful that will quickly and smoothly get him off the phone. There are many people who will call that obviously aren’t going to work out as employees:

“Uh………..uh……….uh………was….uh……uh…wondering…uh…..if…uh….you…..uh……had a…uh…..job for…uh……me.”

Do you really need to spend time interviewing this guy? It’s a lot simpler to just take his number and tell him that you will call him back later if you are interested in hiring him.

Let’s assume that you start talking with someone who you think you may want to hire. What questions should you ask him? Here is a list of the basic things that you need to know for you decide whether to hire him:

1. DATE THAT HE CALLED

2. NAME

3. TELEPHONE NUMBER

4. ADDRESS

5. POSITION THAT HE IS LOOKING FOR

6. NUMBER OF YEARS EXPERIENCE THAT HE HAS

7. PAST EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

A. Name of company and telephone number.

Worked there from______ to _______.

What his ending salary was.

What was his reason for leaving?

B. Name of company and telephone number.

C. ” ” ” ” ” ” “.

8. HOW MUCH MONEY HE WANTS TO BE PAID

The easiest way to quickly get all of this information down is to have a form made up so that you just have to fill in the blanks. Remember, at any time, if you decide that you aren’t going to hire the guy, you can and should simply end off on the interview. This is why you should ask for his name and phone number at the beginning of the interview, so that you can end off your conversation quickly but still be able to call him back later if you wish.

If you have completed the phone interview and you are still interested in hiring the potential employee, the next thing that you must do is to check up on the references that he gave you. What you do is contact the companies he worked for and ask them what kind of work he did and why he left the company. The answers may or may not agree with what he has told you. It will be up to you to decide whom to believe if there is conflicting information.

At this point you will be in a position to decide if you want to hire this person. It is your responsibility to make sure that any new employee is going to be an asset to your company, rather than a liability. You have two basic tools with which to figure this out — the telephone application form and your knowledge of the negative characteristics you should look out for.

If you decide that you want to hire a guy, it is now time to have him come in to your office for an in-person meeting. As a final test, make an exact appointment, such as 2 PM sharp. Whether he shows up on time will tell you an awful lot about what kind of an employee he is going to be.

If the in-person meeting goes well, you are ready to hire him. Now, if he turns out to be a good employee, whatever you do, make sure that you treat him with the fairness and respect that he deserves! Good employees are an extremely valuable asset to your company and should be treated as such.