Five tips to help create a better team

Ric Burnett
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

I recently received one of the highest compliments of my career. A guest stopped me and said, “Where do you find such great staff? Everyone always seems so happy to be here. It must be a really great place to work.” The truth of the matter is you can have the best place in the business, but if you don’t make an effort to find the right people, the time you put into a great culture won’t matter. You have to stop hiring the wrong people.

In the past, I’ve had employers and supervisors that have told me they just need a “warm body.” When this is your approach to staffing, you get precisely that. You get non-engaged, mediocre employees, and it shows.

With all this in mind, I wanted to share a few of my hiring and interviewing tips that have helped me cultivate a culture of rockstars, who are engaged and guest-focused.

1. Treat every position with respect

From the entry-level intern to the senior managers, you have to treat every job with respect. There isn’t a single position in your business that doesn’t provide a pivotal role at some point. When you take the time to interview for every position thoroughly, you set everyone up for better success.

2. Get as much feedback from the rest of the team as possible

I owe this tip to Eric Schmidt from his book, “How Google Works.” At some point, your staff will usually have some form of contact with one another. Getting as much feedback from your staff regarding the potential hire will provide you with invaluable insight into their more hidden personality traits.

During an interview, you see the best representation of a candidate. Knowing this is why I have any new candidate work a stage shift. For about an hour or two, they come in and perform a working interview.

This process will give them a chance to show their abilities. Also, it gives them a little more of a window to loosen up and show more of their genuine personality. I make sure to put them with staff members that will give candid opinions regarding their personality and work ethic. A working interview has helped me identify some negative personality traits and poor work habits that may not have come out during an interview. It also allows for more timid interviewees to come out of their shell, since you remove the pressure to impress the hiring manager.

3. What makes them excited?

Try and ask questions to see what about their position excites them, but also fish to see if there is something outside of the job that drives them. You’re not trying to get the standard responses about giving excellent service or something benign. What you’re trying to see is if they have anything that motivates or drives them. It’s an important characteristic, and the job doesn’t have to be their passion. But if they aren’t passionate about something, they may not be the right fit.

Employees who show they can be passionate have proven to be the best employees I’ve hired. It tells me they can get excited, which tells me I can get them excited about what we’re doing. If they can’t get excited about what we’re doing, then their lack of enthusiasm transfers to their guests and potentially other employees. Complacency doesn’t work for my crew and me.

4. Go with your gut

I’ve ignored this in the past, and it has burned me. Too many times, employers have reservations about a candidate, but they still offer the job. The potential of wasting time and money is too high for someone you’re not entirely sure is perfect. If there are doubts initially, they usually won’t subside the longer the employee is employed. You find yourself analyzing their moves, trying to figure out what your instinct was trying to tell you. Even if the employee is doing a good job, you have a constant reservation.

Whether you mean to or not, your interactions with them will portray what you’re thinking. If they feel they are under scrutiny, it can lead to anxiety about performance. Stress can lead to lowered employee morale as they share their insecurities with other team members. Trust your gut, and only hire if you are entirely sure they are the right fit. Do it for yourself, the candidate, and your staff.

5. Treat it like dating

Every position I hire goes through three different interviews. I tell most of them I see it similar to our three first dates. The first interview is a simple phone interview that only lasts five or ten minutes. I want to get an initial feel for the candidate. Are there any glaring communication issues? Can they talk competently about past experiences? Do I notice any obvious negative personality traits?

The next “date” will be a formal interview, in person. Here, we discuss in more detail their experience, but I also try to get a better feel for them on a personal level. What do they do for fun? What’s their favourite aspect of the industry? Where do they want to end up?

I need to know they have the drive to progress. Without the drive to grow, I don’t see anything they can gain from the position. If they aren’t learning anything and growing, eventually the only thing motivating them to work will be the paycheck. Their potential plateaus and boredom with their job lead to restlessness. It’s a recipe for turnover.

The third “date” is the working interview we talked about earlier. This is the final one to catch anything I may have missed and to get feedback from the rest of the team. The working interview is for the candidate as much as it is for the rest of the team. As much as they are trying to sell themselves, I’m also selling the position. There always runs the possibility that what I promised and how they perceive the job don’t line up. A working interview allows them to see exactly what they’re getting into and decide if it’s truly what they were expecting.

You get out what you put in

If you’re continually dealing with turnover or can’t seem to put together a team that consistently puts out quality work, you may need to look back at how you put the team together in the first place. Hiring takes a lot of work, and you get out what you put in. Taking the time to hire the right people will not only save you money in the long run, but it will also lead you to higher team morale and increased productivity. If you want to succeed, you don’t have the option to go about it half-assed. Take the time and build the team you want to take your business to the next level.



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