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  • Aspire » Hiring

    07 May


    Hire Quality People

    It was on a piece of paper, given to me by a dealer mentor when I bought my dealership in 1997. A handwritten recipe with 5 areas I should master to have a successful business. In fact, the entire hand written document only contained about 200 words. There was no fluff, just to the point directives, that if followed, would yield a healthy prosperous business. At the top of the list he had written: People, “Hire quality people”.

    From a recent poll in the Kansas City Business Journal:

    69% of metro area businesses hired someone in the first quarter of this year!


    I was reminded of that 15 year old note this past week as we were visiting with the owner of a young growing business. He was telling us how he simply hires the best of the best in what they do. He sees the value in paying for quality and knows the output is going to be relative to the quality of the employee. The other interesting component we heard is how he is defining a culture and when he hires employees that match the company culture the chances of a successful hire increase exponentially.

    I thought back to some of the early hires I made and how those decisions positioned us for growth when the opportunities presented themselves in the following years. If you have employees you need to make every effort to get the right people on your team; quality people. Competition is tough and there is no reason to think it will not keep getting tougher.  But if you Hire Quality People you have a great chance to win!

    Below are the words typed verbatim from the handwritten note in 1997:

    1. Hire Quality People

    A) Positions Company Better for Growth

    B) Positions Company Better in case of employee loss

    C) Customers – See Visually & Experience quality people, thus the dealer can keep customers

    D) Gets things done correctly.

    What is a Quality person? A quality person does not necessary know everything when you hire them, but they are trainable. They work well in their environment. They understand the whole is better than the individual. They are assertive. They are trustworthy and committed.  They share the company core values.  They ‘get it’.  They want to be there and they are capable of doing the work in the right way.

    What is amazing to me is that considering how much has changed in the way we do business in the last 15 years, just how accurate the advice still is. The clear message still resonates even today…Hire Quality People!

    We love to hear your thoughts, what are you doing to Hire Quality People?  (Or do you need to get rid of some less than quality people to make room first?)

    Chris Steinlage   Kansas City Business Coach

    Photo by Phillie Casablanca

    28 Feb


    One of the most common challenges we hear from business owners is successfully hiring good employees. One would think with the national unemployment rate still over 8%, the available talent pool would be well stocked with highly quality candidates eager to be the next superstar in your company. But the unfortunate reality is there are still a lot of people being hired that end up not being a good fit and often it means both the company and the employee end up back at square one.

    The good news is there are a number of ways to improve this. Following are what I found to be the top six drivers to increase the chances of having a successful hire.

    1) Job Description:

    Have a clear description of the position you are seeking to fill. Make sure you clearly explain the role and what is expected. Be as specific as you can be and don’t sugarcoat things – if you need someone who can make hard decisions, say that.  Being upfront about this will right away will create a clear picture and  immediately narrow the audience.

    2) Who to interview?

    Create a list of minimum criteria that must be met to be considered for a formal interview. The list for this will vary with the position but it could include: Experience, Education, # of jobs, etc. Run their name through the search engines. What is the content of their social media pages? If someone doesn’t meet a criteria they simply are not eligible and move on.

    3) Attitude:

    Hire attitudes! I have always believed this to be paramount. There may be no other attribute more critical to the success of the hire than getting people in place with good positive attitudes. You can teach a lot of procedures, processes, and policies, but positive attitudes come from inside your candidate. Your business environment can only foster it.

    4) Interview Process:

    Interview multiple times, the higher the position the more you will interview. Clearly communicate the vision and mission statement of your company. Does the candidate align with it? Ask open ended questions and do a lot of listening. The only way you will learn if they truly align is by doing a lot of listening. Ask thought provoking questions, then shut up and listen. My favorite questions have always been ones that show how they handle adversity,  do they tend to show heart and character?

    When you get a gut feeling there isn’t a match, trust your gut it is usually right. If there is a management or teams involved, get them involved in the process. Their conversations may uncover something previously missed.

    5) Personality Profiles:

    Have your potential hire (or at least your short list) complete a personality profile such as DISC. They are amazingly accurate in showing if the person’s personality is a good fit for the position you are seeking to fill.

    6) References:

    If you make it to this point with a green light, check references. Talk to as many people as you can; previous employers, co-workers, friends. At an absolute minimum, talk to 3. I know you’re busy, but this is the best way to really get a read outside of the interview.  Great questions for past employers are, “If you had the opportunity to hire “Mr. Smith” again would you hire him? If the answer is “Yes”, follow it with “Why?”. Listen to the answer closely, it will speak volumes.

    At this point, if your potential new employee still looks like the perfect match there is a great chance you have found someone who is going to impact your team in a very positive way. Get them on board, give them the tools they need to succeed, and get out of their way!

    Do you have a hiring process, when it’s time to hire? What have you found to be beneficial? Please share your thoughts in the space below.

    Chris Steinlage   Kansas City Business Coach.

    Photo by Photologue_np

    19 Aug

      photo by Jerry

    A lot of thought over the years has gone into what makes a business great. In the business classic “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, 5 years of painstaking research led to a lot of interesting conclusions about what separated great companies from good companies (and all the rest).

    Some of the key drivers included things like great leadership, and disciplined focus but one of the fundamental keys to a great business is that they have great people. In other words, using Collins terminology you have to get the right people on the bus if you want to succeed.

    But what are the Right People?  How do you evaluate them?  Let’s hear from Jim Collins first:

    Read More…

    22 May

    photo by woodleywonderworks

    As a small business owner there are probably a lot of times when you feel like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders.

    The reality is that you can’t do it all – at least not for the long run, and if you ever want to take your business to the next level, you are going to have to go out on that limb and get some help.

    I’ve had a lot of conversation this week (several of them in BANG! Sessions) with business owners that are struggling with finding help.

    In several cases, they’ve been burned previously by hiring someone that over promised and under delivered.  In other cases, they were struggling with the right kind of person to bring on board – the low level assistant that can get the grunt work out of the way?  Or should they bring on the sales lead that can take a real leadership position and really get some responsibilities off their plate? Read More…

    20 Aug

    Monty Python’s Spamalot was in Kansas City’s Music Hall this past week and I was fortunate to see it last night.  For those that don’t know, Spamalot is “lovingly ripped off” from Monty Python and The Holy Grail.  (their description, not mine).

    “Always look on the Bright Side of Life” is one of the big numbers in the show (although it’s actually from the Life of Brian).

    Anyway, the point is that the show was very good, lots of spoofs on Broadway in general and they managed to keep almost all of the best parts of the movie intact.  There were some extremely funny moments, definitely two thumbs up!

    But probably the biggest reason for their success last night at least was because of how much fun the cast was having.  I have never  been in a major off-Broadway production, but I’ve seen a lot of them and this cast just appeared to be having more fun than others I’ve seen.  And it made the audience enjoy the whole thing even more…


    Children laugh an average of 400 times a day and that number drops to only 15 times a day by the time people reach age 35. Preschoolers must know something we don?t. Laughter releases endorphins (a chemical 10 times more powerful than the pain-relieving drug morphine) into the body with the same exhilarating effect as doing strenuous exercise. Laughing increases oxygen intake, thereby replenishing and invigorating cells. It also increases the pain threshold, boosts immunity, and relieves stress.

    For those that have been corporate cube dwellers, the word fun is almost forbidden (at least in 95% of the corporate environments that I’ve seen).

    Which by the way is one of the reasons that most corporate environments are broken.


    There’s a great ad running on CNBC for CNBC in the “I am American Business” series.  (See writeup and video clip here)

    Herb Kelleher, the former CEO for Southwest Airlines is explaining his philosophy on business as (I’m paraphrasing here):  Employees first, Customers second and Shareholders third.  If the employees are relaxed, having fun while they do their jobs, the customers will enjoy themselves and come back, which makes the shareholders happy.

    Herb Kelleher and Southwest Airlines are a legendary success story, especially in a difficult and competitive industry.

    And the focus at Southwest is on having fun…


    In 1998, a film was created by John Christensen at the Seattle Pike Place Market entitled FISH!

    What John captured and translated into film was that even in a workplace where fishmongers spent stinky, grueling 12-hour shifts stocking, selling and packing fish, remarkable results can occur when people accept the invitation to: 1) Be There for their coworkers and customers; 2) Play; 3) Make someone’s day, and; 4) Choose their attitude about how they show up for work.

    The success of this story has gone on to create a thriving educational and training company centered around the philosophy that not only is it okay to have fun at work, it’s required if you want to get the best out of your people.


    Here are a few reasons why this idea works and is so important:

    1. More Productive:  Your employees (and you…) will do their best work in a relaxed, supportive environment.
    2. Better Customer Experience:  Your customers will notice and appreciate the festive atmosphere.  *Note – this must be in addition to professionally providing good service, it can’t be just about having a good time.
    3. Improved Employee Retention:  Your employee retention rate will be much higher than average.  There’s another post I could write on this, but suffice it to say that employees in 2007, especially the younger generation are not willing to put up with a bad environment just to keep a job.
    4. Improved Hiring response:  If you’ve got a positive workplace, people will be clamoring to work for you even if the pay is just average.  Having fun could save you money!

    So how does your business stack up on the fun meter?  And I’m not talking about forced fun like awkward team-building exercises or the occasional Pot Luck lunch.

    What do you do to genuinely generate fun for and with your employees?

    If you’re not sure, perhaps it’s time to schedule an all hands with your staff and ask them what would be fun…and productive.


    Always look on the Bright Side of Life

    words and music by Eric Idle

    Some things in life are bad
    They can really make you mad
    Other things just make you swear and curse.
    When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
    Don’t grumble, give a whistle
    And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

    And…always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the light side of life…

    If life seems jolly rotten
    There’s something you’ve forgotten
    And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
    When you’re feeling in the dumps
    Don’t be silly chumps
    Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

    And…always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the light side of life…

    Share any fun ideas you might have here – I’d love to hear them!

    Shawn Kinkade www.aspirekc.com

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