Hardball, Part 2

In the current job market, highly talented job seekers can afford to be selective about the companies they consider, making it more important than ever for small businesses to correct internal deficiencies before recruiting new hires. Below are more hardball questions you may want to ask yourself to ensure your company is in the best shape possible to attract the best candidates.

What have you done in the last three months to recognize outstanding performance by one of your people or teams?

I don’t expect all-expenses-paid trips or unsustainable raises, but do you recognize people with a simple “thank you” when they do a good job? Do you ask for their opinions and solicit their input before making business decisions? I have more to offer than just a strong back and great customer service. Are you a strong enough business leader not to be threatened when one of your employees offers their opinion or actually wants to take ownership of their job?

What areas of professional growth are you, yourself, working on right now?

Your job ad stated that you offer complete training, maybe even opportunities for advancement. That’s great, but I know there’s a short ladder to climb in most small businesses, and I’m probably not going to pass you while you’re standing on it. This means my professional growth and income potential is limited by yours. Since I’m the kind of employee who’s looking to make a contribution to the company where I work, and who wants to grow in my career, I want a business owner who’s doing the same.

Do you invest time and money in your own professional growth, or has your thinking and management style calcified into “the way we’ve always done things”?

Are the work issues that keep you up at night now any different from those that kept you up at night a year ago? When I have a business-related problem that I’m not able to resolve, I’m going to ask you for help. Where are you seeking help if you’re continuing to struggle with the same problems?

If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you close the business?

If the answer to this question is yes, or if you even hesitated when I asked the question, then why would I want to risk my future by coming to work at your company? It’s not that I’m worried about you actually winning the lottery, but that’s an indication that you might be mentally checked out, you’re burned out, or you’re just not committed for the long haul. None of these are good from a company’s growth perspective because it means the company isn’t getting your full efforts. And if you’re not willing to give the business everything you’ve got, why would I?

Asking tough questions about ourselves and our businesses isn’t easy, but with the employment market as competitive as it is right now, giving our companies an honest evaluation based on hardball questions like these before we start recruiting employees can help us not only attract the best ones, but keep them.

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