In recruiting, it’s often tempting to paint a glorious picture of what your small business has to offer to the potential employee, indeed as the employment market hots up – it’s likely you’ll be competing with companies with deeper pockets and swishy benefits. But in putting together this “gold plated” experience for new members of the team, are you really going to find the right employees to make a real contribution to building your small business.
I advocate an alternative route, and it’s one which doesn’t meet with universal approval. As a small business, we don’t have a corporate IT department, or facilities department, or a tea trolley for that matter, and so we need to recruit team members who are on the lookout for what needs to be done and who are prepared to get in and do it. When interviewing candidates, I think it’s important to make it clear that the relaxed environment and informality of a successful small business are only possible if everyone’s willing to muck in and pick up the jobs that need doing. This isn’t to everyone’s taste of course, and it’s a useful thought process for a “big company” employee to go through before deciding whether they really want to leave the cosy world of the well defined corporate job and venture into the exciting world of small business.
To bring this into the very sharpest focus, and help employees understand that we’re serious when we talk about self starters, our new starters are presented with a checklist on joining the team, and not too far down after the mandatory health and safety briefing comes the line: “Assemble furniture”
Observing what happens next will both tell your team a lot about your ethos as a company and also tell you a lot about your employees. Whilst your interview process will have tried to screen candidates for how proactive they are, how they respond to new challenges, how able they are to follow unfamiliar instructions, how willing they are to ask for help, how they collaborate etc, the interview process is a notoriously difficult environment in which to assess these characteristics.
After a couple of hours with an Ikea desk, chair and pedestal drawer unit, however, you’ll have an excellent idea which new starters are going to get on well with life in a changing, growing small business.
Add to that the added sense of achievement when the team members walk up to their newly installed workstations, all made by their own hands, and you’ll see why I’ve been an enthusiastic advocate of DIY employees.
In case you’re wondering, yes, the desk at which I’m writing this was put together by yours truly.