Thursday, January 22, 2009

Staffing your landscape company? 5 things you must ask

Mel Kleiman runs the Texas-based consulting business Kleiman/HR Exchange. I heard Mel speak at a Bayer “Healthy Lawns, Healthy Business” seminar a couple of years back. I was impressed with Mel, an energetic and entertaining presenter, and with his suggestions for hiring new employees. He laid out a plan. Having a plan is better than having no plan.

I kept asking myself, why didn’t I ask those same questions when I was interviewing applicants for a job in our company? As it turned out, I got lucky and hired a good editor and fellow employee, anyway. Yep, dumb luck. I admit it, just like in my selection of a wife almost 40 years ago. Sometimes things work out in spite of being clueless, right?

But, you can’t count on luck in the landscape business. Not now in this cutthroat environment you can’t. You don’t want to make mistakes in taking on new management or landscape field supervisory staff.

Consider asking applicants the following questions offered by Mel Kleiman (click on the headline to visit his Web site) for finding the best candidates to join your landscape company:

#1. "Tell me about your very first job." One key here is: "Don't watch the movie backward." It makes more sense when you watch it from the beginning. (There is also a lot of other great stuff you can learn from this question.)

#2. "How would you rank yourself on a scale of 1-10 as a [job title]?" This question, when used correctly, combines behavioral interviewing and situational interviewing into one question that is easy to learn and use.

#3. "Which work achievements or accomplishments to-date are you most proud of?" The number of achievements or accomplishments is not as important as the motivations that drove them. Capacity+Attitudes+Personality+Skills+ Achievements=Success.

#4. "Did your previous employer do a Performance Review?" If used correctly, this question will help confirm what has been learned and will also help you to get real, relevant references.

#5. "Do you have a question to ask me?" Faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, this question will uncover those hidden motivators and drivers that help determine not only if the person can do the job, but if they will do it.

— Ron Hall

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