If you’re looking outside the painting industry to find your next hire, then you already know the importance of hiring for a great fit. Skills can be trained, but a can-do attitude and team player mentality makes the training process that much easier.
But gauging for fit is not always easy to do in a standard interview process. That quiet introvert may have a fantastic work ethic, but how can you tell when pulling forth answers to questions is more painful than cleaning six layers of dried paint from roller nap? And that gregarious extrovert may be better at initial impressions than follow-through, but who will know until after the hire when your productivity rates start to lag?
“It usually starts with the company’s clarity around the job,” suggests Art Snarzyk, founder of InnerView Advisors and a business management consultant in St. Peters, Mo. “Sometimes business owners just interview people and talk with them to discover if they fit or how to make them fit, but it’s a better practice to be clear about what you want first.”
That means taking a look at your stellar staff today and identifying the traits that make up a successful person in your company. That way you can ask questions that pertain to those traits.
Set behavioral expectations
Skills expectations are clear. You know your painters need to know how to hold a brush or operate a sprayer. But setting behavioral expectations can seem more challenging to painting business owners. Part of the challenge is trying to measure what may seem like ephemeral qualities. In fact, you can measure how well a painter works with the team and what that looks like for you and your company. You can track great customer service through feedback reports from customers or even their appearance on the jobsite (and the job interview). By understanding what is important to your company’s operation, you can begin to create a picture of what behaviors you need from your employees
With that understanding, you can start to craft questions for the interview process that provide the insight you’re looking for. Of course, there are times that will be challenging. As Snarzyk points out, “What I’m finding as I work with painting contractors is that, stereotypically, the technicians are very routine, analytical, exacting people. They’re typically a little bit drier during an interview, so it’s hard to get to know them. That’s just their style.” His approach to this is to ask something like: “Do you find yourself more introverted or extroverted, and why? How do you think that will help you here?” This type of insight can help you determine the right crew for your supervisors and how to motivate each employee.
Know personality types
You may also find that, in some cases, you need to adapt your managerial style to better work with certain personality types.
“Everyone’s talking about millennials,” Snarzyk says. “They make up the biggest part of the workforce and will for a long time. Really, we’ve got to get our heads around that.”
For Snarzyk, that means accepting that these workers just won’t stay with jobs as long as older generations did. Working to meet their core motivations can help retain these workers, and their knowledge, for longer.
“We’ve got to get good at telling people ‘here’s your career path if you want to stay here; and if you don’t, here’s what you’re going to get from us. Here’s what’s in it for you,’” Snarzyk suggests. Explain your goals to these millennial recruits. Consider explaining, “‘Over the next year we’re going to give you some people skills training or painting skills training. Maybe some time management. And you can take that on to whatever you do next.’ And hopefully they stay longer than a year because they like you,” Snarzyk says.
Fix bad fits fast
No matter how well you prepare, there’s still every possibility you’ll hire someone who ultimately turns out to be a bad fit for the organization. “There’s the ones where they’re a good person but just won’t learn, or they’ve got great skills but they’re just a jerk,” Snarzyk says. He adds, “Recognize those bad fits fast. They’re going to destroy your company culture, so they’ve got to go.”
But before you send every bad fit packing, see if you can diagnose the problem. Ask, “What is the bad thing here?” Rather than simply approaching an employee and telling them they need to fix their customer service or hit the road, it’s up to a good manager to identify how that employee needs to improve. As Snarzyk explains, that might mean, “‘Your customer service isn’t very good because you need better interpersonal skills.’ Or, ‘Your empathy is really nice but your interpersonal skills need work.’ Or, ‘your follow-through isn’t very good.’”
If it’s a cultural fit, well, those are difficult to solve. But if you can diagnose the real problem, you can keep an asset into which you’ve already invested time and money and who may someday grow to be a valuable part of the team.
Megan Headley is managing editor of APC magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.