Can’t find good help? Why your people don’t step up.

mascot in a large crowd

Let me start with a story:

I have had several clients, whom are small business owners, tell me they cannot find good help. The owner hires people they expect to do well and then have to fire them within a few months, or less. They have a huge challenge getting the people they hire to step up and take ownership for the responsibilities the owners wants them to take on.  In almost all cases, they hire people that are experienced contractors and boast expertise in the area they hire them into. The outcome is that the owners are adamant that it is easier to do the work themselves then to continue to hire and fire, resulting in a business that cannot grow and is difficult to sell in the future.

Finding a good worker is one thing, but finding and appropriately on-boarding a good worker is another. This takes more than just getting the right person, it takes integration and change inside of the company.

I don’t want to make this sound simple, because it is not. We are working with humans, and we, as humans, are all complex beings with different ‘intelligences’ (e.g. IQ, verbal, and emotional intelligence) and skill sets (creative, spiritual, problem solving, adversity). So what do you need to do as a business owner and manager of humans, to get the best people doing the best work for your business?

Start with Expertise

The basics of hiring is to create a job description of all the requirements the candidate will need to have and things that would be nice to have, plus alternative options. You want to know that person you hire can do the work you need done. This is the minimum requirement of your owner/employee relationship.

Hire for Corporate Fit

Ensure you have included your corporate values and mission in the job description. You may want to include questions that help you evaluate their values and mission as well. Questions like:

  • Why did you apply for a job with our company?
  • How do you picture yourself using our company’s mission and vision in your work?
  • Can you describe a situation where you had to make a decision that conflicted with your personal values? How did you handle it?

I would note that many people have never had to articulate their person values. Possibly you do not know your own personal values, nor have you defined that for your business. If you have not done so already, it is critical for a small business to know your values and mission, so you can align what you do, with who you do it for and with.


You need to set expectations for both you and of your hires. You need to expect that hiring someone is going to take time, effort and other resources.

  • Create a list: You need to know which items you will need to train, discuss, introduce to, etc. These are items your new hire will need to know about and eventually be good at. For instances, getting familiar with group meeting expectations.
  • Define a timeline: Think about how long each item will take for you to walk the person through it, watch them complete that work and then monitor them for their accuracy. For instance, in my monthly email newsletter there is an entire process that must be managed to make the email happen. My VA had to learn what was on their plate and what else they needed to have available to complete this. Since it only happens once a month, the process could be taught in the first week, but it was 3 weeks later when the actions needed to take place. Expecting them to get it right, without your help, the first time, weeks after they start, may be unrealistic.
  • Presumptions: Just because someone is an expert and you hire them for that skill, does not mean that they know exactly how you will want something done. Do not presume that their expertise does not require managing, training and evaluation more than once.
  • Overall Expectations: This is an investment and it will take your time for more than a few weeks. Expect to be managing, helping, collaborating, investing resource in, and training your people for as long as you have your business. The difference between the new hire and the person that is seasoned in your business is, they are now integrated into your business, the culture, the expectations, and the vision of the future with them in it.

Have Systems and Process

If you are making up the process as your new hire is stepping into the job, then they have been hired to do more than one job. They are building out the process as they do the work. Recognize this and give them space to document your processes as you go through the training. This will have two benefits: 1) they will better know and understand the requirements of what you are asking them to do and 2) your company will have an SOP to train future hires.

Having written processes makes it easier for you to train people, easier for them to see the limitations and requirements of their work, and more valuable for your business as you try to grow. Companies that can demand more money when they go to sell, have written process, that can be more easily managed by the new owner. It also reduces the guesswork that comes with a lack of clarity. Guesswork costs time and reduces quality. This is why your employees are not doing what you need them to do when they are guessing what is actually required.

Monitor, Manage, and Modify

Not actually showing them what they are to do, your expectations, boundaries, limitations and resources makes it a guessing game on their side. Having an on-boarding process that brings them comfortably into your corporate culture, will help them feel good about making decisions for their job in your company.

It is not enough to simply give them a job description and expect them to know exactly what that entails for you and your business. By showing them, even the experts, what you expect, going over the details more than once is important. Then, after the training is done,  you need to monitor what they accomplish. Point out what you love about their work, what is done correctly, and what needs to change. Have regular conversations (in team meetings so everyone can see the solution, or alone when needed, to ensure the person is not centered out) to point out what is working and what is not.

Expect there are going to be times when things go wrong. Do you remember how many times, when you started your business, that you made the wrong choice? Let them fail at non-critical work so you can teach them how to learn and grow. Go back and point out the procedures you had them create. If the process works better another way, let them suggest the better way and get them to update the procedures. By monitoring their growth, managing the operations and modify the process, you create a business with people that can learn and adjust as your business needs to pivot through industry and economic changes.

AND, if your person is not capable of learning and growing into the position, then take this as your learning opportunity. Clearly you have not hired the right person to start, so go back to your hiring process and find out what better questions you could ask to ensure you get experts that can take on new work, learn, implement, recover from failure, and own the job they were hired to do.

You’re not even thinking about when you will leave your business. You just want to grow and be successful. BUT, if you have a business that is structured for you to exit in the future, you have a business that can grow and be successful. Want to see how your business fairs? Take this free assessment.

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This article is 100% original content – The articles you read in this blog are 100% created by Barb Stuhlemmer, not by AI.

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