Right start

Smart hir­ing is the se­cret to the success of a small busi­ness, Ben Pike dis­cov­ers

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SMALLER busi­nesses are sab­o­tag­ing their chances of success by hir­ing the wrong per­son­al­i­ties when build­ing their en­ter­prises.

Work­ers also can sab­o­tage their ca­reers if they seek work at a com­pany where their ideals do not fit with the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s out­look, although they can reap great re­wards by work­ing for the right small op­er­a­tor.

Small Busi­ness Aus­tralia says more than half of all failed hires at a small busi­ness re­sult from the em­ployer hir­ing some­one whose per­son­al­ity does not fit in with the job or the com­pany cul­ture.

Ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Bill Lang says the av­er­age small busi­ness has be­tween two and three em­ploy­ees on the pay­roll so hir­ing peo­ple un­suited to those roles will have a big im­pact on the bot­tom line.

‘‘ The big­gest mis­take that first-time em­ploy­ers of­ten make is hir­ing some­one with the right skills who they think can hit the ground run­ning but they have an is­sue with their at­ti­tude and val­ues, which is dif­fi­cult to change,’’ he says.

‘‘ Of­ten when you can, dig up a per­son’s true per­son­al­ity through be­havioural in­ter­view tech­niques. How is some­one likely to be­have in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, es­pe­cially the sit­u­a­tions you will have in your work en­vi­ron­ment? And then you want to val­i­date that when you ring up past em­ploy­ers and get ref­er­ences.’’

Lang adds that when an in­ter­nal per­son is pro­moted within a larger busi­ness, em­ploy­ers gen­er­ally can pre­dict how they will per­form in their new role with 80 to 90 per cent ac­cu­racy. But the per­for­mance pre­dic­tors for an ex­ter­nal hire are about 55 to 70 per cent ac­cu­rate.

It means a self-em­ployed op­er­a­tor can strug­gle to re­cruit well, as hir­ing in­ter­nally is not an op­tion.

But this is no rea­son for sole traders to throw their hands in the air and go it alone, as hir­ing staff can do won­ders for busi­ness sus­tain­abil­ity.

‘‘ If sole traders avoid hir­ing staff they loose out on larger con­tracts for their ser­vices,’’ Lang says.

‘‘ They miss out on in­creas­ing rev­enues and prof­itabil­ity. Be­cause they stay as a oneper­son op­er­a­tor they are not build­ing a busi­ness that has any as­set value.

‘‘ Tak­ing on all the work

FIRST-TIME EM­PLOY­ERS

them­selves can of­ten also be very stress­ful.’’

It may seem that hir­ing staff brings a lot of risks but Lodestar Lead­ers direc­tor Paul Flana­gan says there are plenty of places small busi­ness own­ers can go for help.

‘‘ It is good value for small busi­ness to be­long to an in­dus­try and em­ployer as­so­ci­a­tion be­cause, for the fee they pay, they get em­ploy­ment and in­dus­trial re­la­tions ad­vice about set­ting up con­tracts cor­rectly,’’ he says.

‘‘ And if they are on good terms with ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple in the in­dus­try who they are not in di­rect com­pe­ti­tion with, it’s worth net­work­ing with them to get ad­vice.

‘‘ I find that the acro­nym AART (Achieve, Ac­tiv­i­ties, Re­sults and Tools) is a very help­ful way of find­ing the right per­son for the job.’’

Be­com­ing an em­ployee of one of the 2.7 mil­lion small busi­nesses in Aus­tralia also is a great op­por­tu­nity to take a more cen­tral role at work.

This is es­pe­cially true for peo­ple in the ser­vices sec­tor, which com­prises 85 per cent of the to­tal small busi­ness con­tri­bu­tion to in­dus­try.

‘‘ Small busi­nesses have more flex­i­bil­ity and can be more cre­ative with the job de­scrip­tions they of­fer prospec­tive em­ploy­ees,’’ Flana­gan says. ‘‘ A new em­ployee may have ad­di­tional skills in cus­tomer ser­vice or par­tic­u­lar parts to their per­son­al­ity that are worth devel­op­ing.

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