Why I am going on a blind date…with my employee

Blind Date EmployeeOK. Now before you get all grossed out and start gagging at the thought of a boss dating her employee, let me put this in context. I have an employee, I love her, she is amazing, she has worked with me for 3 months, I have never met her and I am taking her to lunch tomorrow and meeting her for the first time. It is like getting ready for a blind date.

Still confused? Well, I love her in the sense that she is an amazing employee. She is proactive, she is efficient, she is thorough and boy does she totally get my warped sense of humour (plus she loves dessert and hates seafood so really we are a match made in #numbersnerd heaven).

So why am I working with someone I have never met?

“No disrespect, but accountants are normally so boring and traditional. How the heck did you get this to work so well?”

That is the response I get all the time when I say I have never actually met Christine, one of my amazing bookkeepers. And yes, I am an accountant by trade – I have the certificate on the wall to prove it and the years of late night study etched into my brain forever. But that doesn’t mean I am traditional and boring and do things in a traditional and boring way.

What I realise in running a business is there is no ultimate rule book, there is no single play list, there is no guide which tells you what to do. You see, I make my own rules and play by the beat of my own drum. And it works for me as I have thought about the end result and what I want to achieve.

“Hiring staff is far more than a process. It is about finding the right fit to help grow your business. Qualifications mean nothing if it is backed with an attitude that stinks.”

So what did I do to hire the best people…well I am so glad you asked:

  • I realised what my bottlenecks were. You see, when people hire, they try to fix the problem by putting on a bandaid as a solution. Whilst this fixes the exterior problem, the underlying cause is left to manifest itself into an even bigger problem. Work out what is really the root of your issues – and hire to solve that. Bandaids are not a long term solution for anything.
  • I didn’t read a single resume. OMG. Who does this?? ME ME. OK, after you pick yourself up off the floor, let me explain. When I asked people to email through their applications, I requested a cover letter and CV. Anyone who couldn’t follow simple instruction was not even considered. Yes, I play hard ball at times. But if you want to work with me, them’s the rules. I was astounded that in the first 48 hours of having the job ad live, only 50% of responses had that initial attention span I required. Field narrowed and not a single resume was read.
  • I asked questions. I know right – but it is just a job ad – don’t they just apply? Sure they do, but I want them to think about why they are applying. I want them to understand what the job is and why they would be the perfect fit. So in the job description I advised to apply outlining why they would be suitable and why they would want to work for my business. Call it deja vu, but the old “attention to detail” culled another 50% of applications. Some told me they would love to apply for the admin role (um nope – it is a bookkeeping role), some told me they saw it on Seek (nope – didn’t advertise there). Again, this was just by reading the email they sent – not a single resume opened.
  • I didn’t tell them my name. OK – so by now you have probably thought I have totally lost the plot. How can I advertise a job and not mention my name? Well, I mentioned the business name, but not my personal name. Now anyone who follows me, knows that I get around a bit on social media (in a good way – I promise!). In fact, I am on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Linkedin. Plus I have my website and I am a member of so many professional groups. All of these platforms – my name is splashed around several times over. It is not hard. When applying for jobs, do your research, use the business owners name and make it personal.
  • I called for a chat. Not an interview, but a chat. Why call it an interview if I have no idea if I want to hire you – that is just misleading. How about we have a chat, see if we can get along over the phone, see what your intentions are and then, if all goes well, we shall arrange an interview. 10 minute chat, as opposed to an hour interview. Time is money people, time is money.

So I think my “ten minute chat” with Christine lasted nearly 45 minutes. We probably spoke about bookkeeping for 10 of those minutes. We laughed the rest. We just got each other. Christine lives around 3 hours away from me in country Victoria, yet her passion for numbers, her enthusiasm and her work ethic easily shone through in that phone conversation.

“In order to hire the best, you need to ensure you don’t have blinkers on. Be open to possibilities you haven’t thought of. Never pick qualifications over cultural fit.”

So tomorrow, Christine and I have our first “blind date”. I am picking her up from the train station, we are going for lunch…and hopefully this will lead to an ever lasting love (of a work kind). Wish me luck (but I think I have already won)!

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