Ask Different Questions

We can learn a lot about ourselves and about business from people we’ve hardly met. In this instance I’m referring to applicants interviewing for a job with our company. But we must be willing to ask the right questions and listen to the answers.

Many business owners and managers have been conditioned to have all the answers to our workers’ questions, to be right in the decisions or the comments we make, and to win—sometimes at debatable costs. Kick butt; take names; ask questions later.

This is especially true when it comes to hiring people. But in my opinion, we too often ask the wrong questions … or at least we’re not asking the right ones.

For example, consider the way in which many of us arrive at the compensation package we’re planning to offer a new hire. Some might check websites to see what comparable wages are for similar jobs in the local area. Others might ask colleagues to see what they’re paying at their company.

Regardless of the answer, the question we’re ultimately asking is how much we have to pay the person to perform the job needing done. Or stated another way, how much we can get out of them for the compensation we’re willing to offer. We compare what we’re offering to the “going rate” for similar positions. We worry that if we offer too little, candidates will go elsewhere. But if we offer too much, we might wonder if we could have hired them for less.

In my opinion, I think we need to add more questions to our thinking about hiring.

  • What can this person get from us for the compensation we’re offering?
  • Are they capable of helping the company achieve its objectives and move it closer to its vision?
  • Are they able to push me to grow and become a better business leader?
  • How will they help us think differently about the company? Will they bring fresh eyes and challenge the way we’ve always done things?
  • What life experiences or points of view will they add to the tapestry of our company that will make us a better place to work?
  • Will they help us compete better in an increasingly diverse marketplace?

Great employees make us better. In fact, that’s one of the things we should be paying them to do. Great workers draw out the better versions of us that may have been tucked away all along but perhaps didn’t have a reason or a need to come out. They teach us how to lead the caliber of people we’ll need to drive a larger company.

It’s understandable that workers like this can be frightening to some business leaders. Still, we need people who can ask questions we didn’t even know to ask. And once we find a person like this, we need to compensate them well for the value they will bring to the company, which will definitely be higher than the “going rate.”

The next time you’re interviewing, ask yourself what the person will bring to the company to improve it or help it grow. Better yet, ask them. Then consider how much having a better place to work or a more competitive business is worth and see if it changes your thinking about what you’re willing to pay.

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