Finding the Right Fit: Assessing Capabilities and Values When Hiring
Joe Rojas: Welcome back to the Start grow manage Podcast, where we’ll be discussing the business issues that MSPs face when it comes to growth. Hey Jeff.
Jeff Loehr: I am coming to you from the side of a mountain at 6am. It’s still dark and it’s cold.
Joe Rojas: A question that comes up a lot in our community: what do you do when you hire the wrong person?
Jeff Loehr: You knkow, building teams is one of the hardest things a business owner has to do. It’s easy to think the technical stuff is the hard part, but it’s actually herding the people that’s the real challenge. It’s like herding cats.
Joe Rojas: It’s the other way around, buddy. I think humans are much harder to herd than cats. I know about kittens and it’s definitely easier to herd them than it is to herd people.
Jeff Loehr: Right. I misspoke earlier – humans are actually harder to herd. It’s important to have a shared vision and mission to keep the team together. It’s the glue.
Joe Rojas: I’ve learned that when it comes to hiring the wrong person, there are two main issues: capabilities and values. If it’s a capabilities issue, it’s important to consider how well instructions and processes are documented and if you’re expecting the person to know what to do right away. It’s crazy to think that someone should know what to do on their first day just because they’re being paid a lot of money. We see this a lot – poor performance often starts with poor instructions.
Jeff Loehr: We see that over and over, thinking it’s the wrong person in the role, when really they maybe just haven’t been given guidance how to succeed in the role. An example of this is bookkeeping, which I think is pretty straightforward. But I was working with an accountant and hiring bookkeepers, and they weren’t working out. We realized it’s becasue we weren’t training them on the process of gathering information, putting it into QuickBooks, generating reports, communicating, and categorizing things the way we needed it done. It’s all dependent on the business, and I was expecting people to know that without being trained. This is the curse of knowledge – I understand, so I expect everyone else to understand too.
Joe Rojas: I was working with an MSP owner who was expanding and hiring project managers. He was paying them $150,000 – $165,000 and they would usually only last 8-10 weeks. To figure out what a project manager should be doing, we decided to meet on a Saturday morning at 7am and he started talking. I was documenting everything he said and by 3pm I had 18-19 pages of what a project manager should know in their head when they come to work for him.
Jeff Loehr: And that’s just the company’s specific stuff that he specifically wants.
Joe Rojas: Yeah, it was a lightbulb going off in his head. He finally understood that a lot of the failure was his. It was brutal, but it’s something I’ve seen all over the place in many different industries.
Jeff Loehr: I think the curse of knowledge is a real challenge. I’ve seen it all the time, where people know what they’re talking about, but the other person doesn’t. There was a study done where someone tapped out a song and the listener could hardly guess it right. Even though it was something like ‘Happy Birthday’ that we all know. The person tapping it out thought it was obvious, but the listener didn’t get it. That’s the curse of knowledge – we expect people to know what we know, but they don’t. It’s like expecting someone new to into our business to understand an 18 page SOP without being told.
Joe Rojas: Yeah, his ended up being like a 50 pager that day.
Jeff Loehr: So I think it’s important to take a step back and look at ourselves when we hire the wrong person. We should ask ourselves if we have training, SOPs, mentors, and an appropriate onboarding process in place. If we keep hiring the wrong person, then it’s likely that we’re part of the problem.
Joe Rojas: If you don’t have the training in place, it’s all up to you. You might get lucky and find someone who has similar ideas, but you won’t get exactly what you want. So it’s essential to have the training in place.
Jeff Loehr: I get that. We do need to also focus on values when hiring people. We can’t just hire anyone and expect them to fit into our business – it’s like trying to put a round peg in a square hole. We need to make sure we hire people who think and act in line with our values. That’s the only way it’ll work long term.
Joe Rojas: To me, the most important thing when it comes to interviewing is screening for values. One MSP we work with only hires 1 out of every 50-60 people they interview, but they’ve improved their pre-screening process and are now aiming to only interview 30 people for each hire. It used to be 100 or 110 people the interview. Their retention rate is high because they’re so picky, and they’d rather hire someone who fits their values and train them than hire a rock star who won’t fit the culture.
Jeff Loehr: Hiring an expert for a job can be great, but it can also be a problem if they want to do things their own way. It’s important to hire for values and capabilities, so that the person will do things the way you want them done. If they don’t fit with the values or have the capabilities, it’s best to move on quickly and not wait too long to let them go. We like to say, have a 90 day time period, get to know somebody, before you commit to full time employment or long term.
Joe Rojas: Yeah, you have to act quickly when someone is the wrong fit for your organization. If you don’t, it can impact the whole company. It can lead to good people leaving. If you do act quickly, everyone will come together to fill in the gap until a new person is found. It’s a rallying call for people to take action. It tells your team, Hey, we heard you, now we need a little extra while we figure it out.
Jeff Loehr: Right, so hiring the right people is key when building a team. Focus on values, have a good onboarding process, and document your business and standard operating procedures.
Joe Rojas: Remember that you are loved. We’ll see you next episode.