How to find great people

“I just can’t find good people. That’s my biggest problem,” a frustrated contractor told me. 

“Who’s this young man next to you?” I asked. 

“That’s my service manager,” the contractor said.

“You know, he can hear you right now,” I said.

There are good people out there. Some of whom may working for you already. 

What is it that you are looking for? What would one have to be to be good enough for you? Are you looking for a kind, smart, good looking, physically fit, devoted, self-starting, common-sense filled, problem-solving, mind-reading, mind-blowing, sales stacking, no-callbacks racking version of you on your very best day? 

Instead, look for willing, basically capable people and commit to helping them get really good. Develop their technical skills, operational habits and communication and sales skills. And, love them. 

They are out there. You can magnetize them to your company and help them blossom under your care. Here are ways to end the I-can’t-find-good-people-blues. 

Offer a grand plan

Craft a business plan to help you gain clarity and commit to action that will help you expand your company. A growing company offers opportunity.

Consider why you are in business. Discover what makes you different and better. Map out your dreams and put the biz plan together. Then, share the story and the plan with existing team members and potential hires. 

Commit to becoming a ‘no experience needed’ company

The better your training and operational systems, the less skill you require walking in the door. Take responsibility for teaching employees, holding them accountable, and creating an awesome career ladder. 

Get others involved in your recruiting efforts

To vendors, church members, friends, family, business networking members, say, “We are growing a really cool company and are looking for right-stuff people to help us grow.” 

Never say, “I can’t find good people. Do you know anyone who isn’t a complete screw up?” 

Consider a professional recruiting service and online options. Craft a compelling want ad, “Ready to be part of something amazing?” 

Explore the Nexstar Legacy Foundation 

They partner great people, including veterans, with companies who are interested in developing their skills. Visit 

Implement an employee manual

Write down what is expected for every team member. Cover the basic understandings between employer and employee. 

The manual should include benefits, start times, uniform standards, safety protocol, progressive discipline, vacation policies, etc. You might be able to get one from your payroll service, and edit it. 

Create an organizational chart 

Map out positions and reporting relationships. Include short, bulleted position descriptions that describe the responsibilities of the position. 

“Here’s what you are to do…” 

Craft operations manuals 

Have a manual for every position on the organizational chart. Use the position descriptions as a guide. Write procedures for each responsibility. 

“Here’s how you do it…” 

Build a hands-on training center in your shop 

There’s no better way to learn and demonstrate skills. 

Adopt a sales trainer 

Use their sales systems as yours. Take the class, go to the webinars, read the books, and implement the systems. Sales skills are learned, not birthed. 

Coordinate your technical training with wholesalers and manufacturers Your vendor support team will jump through hoops to get your team up to speed on equipment, controls, and even sales and business skills. 

Be proactive in their training schedule development. Host the events at your shop if possible. This is an often underutilized opportunity for first rate-training at no cost to you. 

Partner up

Join your local PHCC or other trade association. Or consider a franchise. 

Do some dating before you get married, and find the organization that is a good fit for you. These groups pool resources to develop systems and training that you can adopt. Easier than building all of them from scratch. 

Develop a transparent wage ladder

Base the ladder on the organizational chart positions. This takes time to map out and strategize. Consider what is generous and fair, and what behavioral steps are needed to move from one rung to the next. 

Hire two when you need one

Make room for two employees if both are great. You said you couldn’t find any!

Let them know that you will back them up if they get into a bind. Commit to them, if you want them to commit to you. And it’s OK if you train them and they leave. Someday you may work for them. People are allowed to get on and off the train. 

Raise your standards, don’t lower them

Good people like to be held accountable. Rules are part of a good game. Don’t apologize for requiring people to show up clean, sober, on-time, dressed right, and willing to use your procedures. 

Ride along and sit side-by-side

Make sure the manuals are being used, and build strong relationships. This is where the love comes in. This is how you develop a culture. 

The time spent together allows for magical moments where team members – and you! – discover the joy of being part of a supportive, excellence-minded, fun, accepting, diverse, and developing team. As an owner, as a manager, your job is to help your team get good. And, what a cool job it is! 

Raise prices

The companies who have solved the “I can’t find good people” problem have taken the last few years to develop the tips presented thus far. That is what is required of you. It won’t happen overnight. There is no quick fix. But you can fix it. 

It will take your investment (and your customer’s money) to make it happen. Note that as you implement these projects, your sales and customer satisfaction will go up, too. Bonus! 

Let them help 

Invite your current team members to help you pull these pieces together. Your team can help you fix everything, including your staffing challenges. 

Most of the time, your employees will embrace projects like this, and feel honored that you’ve asked them to contribute. If you are a one-person company, share the plan with your new hire and have him or her help you build these systems. These take time. However, as one of my mentors said, “A year from now, most of this will be behind you. Or, ahead of you still. It’s up to you.” 

One more thing. Quit talking about how awful people are. Quit whining about their work ethic. The employees who do work for you – if there are any left – can hear you. If you want a different reality – lots of great people lined up to work with you – then start talking about that, and what you can do to make it so. 

English businessman, Sir Walter Bilbey said, “The employer generally gets the employee he deserves.” 

For more on business planning, check out The Biz Plan Challenge. You, me, other business builders…working in real time to craft customized Biz Plans for creating your ideal business and best life.

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