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90 days before launch

Hiring the right staff can make all the difference

Aug 1, 2013

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story-header-90daysIt probably won’t come as a surprise that you can’t run your business alone. There’s too much to do and not enough hours in the day. You need employees, and you’re going to want them in place before you launch your business. But don’t hire just anyone. Making a bad choice and hiring someone who doesn’t fit with your organization or isn’t working at full capacity could cripple your young company. You want an employee who believes in your organization and what you’re trying to do, and represents your company in a way that makes you proud. So how do you find this all-star employee? In an interview, look for someone with personal qualities that would be an asset to your business, rather than skills and experience (these are important, too, but skills can often be learned). It’s also important to consider the whole team when hiring. Identify your own deficiencies or those of the employees you already have and look for someone who can fill the gaps.

Tip: Do you really need to hire someone?
Sometimes it might be cheaper to hire contractors or consultants and outsource some services, such as marketing or accounting. Not only could you save money, but these individuals often have expertise that could come in handy.


Poster boys (and girls)

Your company’s employees represent you, in their dealings with customers, other businesses and the community. And their behaviour can make or break you. That’s especially the case for John Evans, president of EverLine Coatings and Services. EverLine is a Calgary property maintenance company (with a focus on line marking) that has built its brand around professionalism and client relationships. “In this industry, a dose of professionalism has been sorely needed,” Evans says.

Fulfilling these commitments to professionalism, timely project completion and high quality often falls to Evans’ employees that are out there working on the job site. So for him, hiring people that have the right attitude and will represent his company appropriately is key to EverLine’s success. “Ultimately, they’re our core people and what they do affects the company and will affect whether or not our reputation spreads and we get more work or less work,” he says.

EverLine was founded in January 2012, and because it’s such a young company, Evans has found it’s important to look for people that are able to think on their feet and adapt. He also says it’s important to be forthright with new employees in telling them that the company is young and setting expectations for where you want the company to go and how they can be a part of that. “They’re going to be working towards the betterment of your company, as long as you set the expectations,” he says.


Bad apples

Hopefully, you only ever hire great employees who work to build your company and never want to leave. That’s the ideal situation, but it’s likely that at some point you’ll end up with an employee you’re less than thrilled with. That might be because the person doesn’t fit in with your company culture, is not performing or has done something specific that warrants firing. But getting rid of that employee isn’t as easy as you’d probably like. If you find yourself in this situation, make sure to familiarize yourself with Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and call a lawyer. In many cases, general incompetence or a lack of fit is not enough to fire an employee with just cause, and even if they did commit a serious offence, it can often be difficult to prove just cause. Without just cause, you have to give the employee termination notice, which varies based on how long they’ve been with the company, or termination pay, which is equal to wages they would’ve made in the termination notice period. In other words, a bad hire can turn out to be very expensive.

A good practice to avoid getting into situations like this is to have a probationary period when you first hire an employee. In a probationary period, termination notice and pay are not required, so if you find the employee doesn’t live up to your expectations or isn’t right for your company, there’s no financial or legal repercussions if you deal with it during that probationary period. These typically last three months (but can be longer), and they’re not guaranteed – you have to include provisions for a probationary period in the employee’s contract.

Sara Tharakan, HR Professional, CHRP – Strategic HR Services

A. The phone number to an HR expert for 24/7 compliance and legislation advice. When working with an organization I provide this service free of charge, it is that important. As a new business owner you need to stay focused on building your business. Whether you are a one-man shop or have thousands of employees, don’t let people problems get in the way of your success.

A. Skills and abilities will change with every role that you are recruiting for but the one thing that is common to all is the right fit. As the business owner you are establishing a culture and values that work for you, when you go to recruit ensure that they share the same ones.

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