Whatever You Think is Best
I’ve hired dozens of people in the last 12 months, and kept about 5. The shared skill set that these 5 people have is critical thinking. I can answer their questions with “whatever you think is best”, and be confident that they’ll make a good decision.
Hiring: To hire someone, I post job descriptions to odesk, craigslist and Facebook groups (I’ll try newspaper ads soon). And I always ask a question related to the job that requires thoughts and good communication to answer. For example- when posting a job for sales people, I ask… “Give me an example script that you think might work if you cold called a business to sell them a new website design”. The pitch doesn’t actually matter as much as their thinking process behind it.
Training: Once I have a 2-3 people who answered this question well, I’ll begin training them. First I’ll do the task my self, verify it works, and create a checklist/ video for executing it. I’ll assign a similar task to each person and see who executes/ communicates with me the best… ad that’ll be my new hire. And of course, I keep everyone else who did well in my contacts list in case I need them in the future. Overtime while this new hire executes the task, they’ll have occasional questions and new ideas to try. I require them to add those in the original checklist I created for them… that way I can more easily replace them if they ever quit (no one works for the same company forever anymore). This way, my company is building an asset (employee manual), which adds to the value I’m getting for the money I pay them.
Managing: Once these people are trained up well enough to not be micro managed at each step, I begin the process of managing them. To do this efficiently, I usually require they enter their time and tasks into a Google form (like a timesheet basically). I also assign them a specific Google spreadsheet to keep notes for each activity they need to do/ have gotten done. So if they are making cold calls for example, they’ll have a list of everyone they called with followup notes/ status/ etc. Again, this makes it very simple to replace them if they ever leave the company.
Firing: Usually if someone has made it far enough to be managed, they’ll never get fired. I may however, stop sending them work for a while. Here’s why… every single freelancer gets busy-as-hell running their business. They are in the freelance trap where they don’t know how to manage their time. And since that’s the product their business sells, they get too busy sometimes because they say “yes” to every opportunity. Usually this busy-season will last for about 3 months and then they’ll slow down again and start asking about more work (this lasts for about 3 months also). So the best way to handle this in my experience, is to hire 2-3 people from the start and just send work to whoever is least busy so you’re made a priority. Otherwise, you’re business is depending on one person to do their job, and they’ll always tell you they are on top of it- even when they are not. By fluctuating the work amongst several people, you can maintain consistent reliability for your customers. There is the rare occasion when I’ve needed to fire someone, mostly because I didn’t vet them well enough. In these cases, I pay them in full (even if I don’t think I should) and let them leave gracefully with a few constructive tips on how to improve.