The beginning and the end. The alpha and the omega. The first date and the break-up. Everybody who knows the retail business knows that hiring and firing is a natural, though not always a popular, part of the job. Bringing on new employees takes time and energy away from your store, customers and sales goals. As for letting someone go, it’s never fun, regardless of the reasons why.
While these may not be the most likable tasks, knowing how to do them – and do them well – can make you sleep a little better at night. Below are a few helpful hints that will allow you to better manage the “people flow” of your business. So, let’s start at the beginning – hiring new employees.
- Know the Why: Before you begin the interview process, do some research to discover why people want to work for you. Poll your employees, and gain a better understanding of what they like about their job. Discuss what they like best about their jobs, as well as the less popular responsibilities.
- Sell yourself and your business: Too often, employers see an interview as a one-way street; an opportunity for you to determine if the candidate would be a good fit. To find the right people, you need to attract them to your store, make them want to work for you, paint a picture of a work environment that they desire. The bottom line is that you want to hire the type of person who is a sought-after asset; someone who will hopefully garner multiple offers. Your job as a prospective employer is to convey why your store is the right choice. After all, if you can’t articulate what makes your store special, then who can?
- Work your circle: The saying goes that it’s “not what you know but who you know,” and that works both ways. Network, network and network some more so that you know the right people who can refer your next new employee. Whether it’s friends, family members, fellow colleagues or even a professional organization, the best candidates are going to be those who are referred to you. In fact, your current employees are a great resource, and many companies have great luck with employee referral programs.
- Ask the right questions: When interviewing a potential candidate, make sure you dig deep to really try to know and understand the person across from you. In many cases, you can train a person on the skills or product knowledge they need. But, you can’t teach a person to have a better personality or more customer-service oriented traits or attributes. Attitude and personality are key, and if you can pair that with the right, or at the very minimum, applicable experience, you may just have your next star employee.
Hopefully, the time and effort you put into hiring pays off, and you have a long-lasting employee. But, despite your best intentions, sometimes people do not work out. No matter how many times you do it, firing an employee is not fun. But we have some tips that can make the process as good as it can get.
- Have a set process: As an employer, you want to have a clearly communicated and understood set of expectations that employees need to meet, as well as consequences for not meeting them. So, before you decide to let someone go, map out how that employee’s actions and behaviors have violated expectations.
- Practice your part: When firing someone, you want to be concise, clear and resolute. To do this, rehearse what you want to say and how you want to sound. If you waffle, it will not go well. Additionally, don’t get into an argument or a discussion about the situation. You should have clearly documented details about behaviors and consequences, so this is not the time to be dissuaded. A 2012 magazine article made the excellent point that sometimes managers offer to help . . .when they can’t. After all, if you’re letting someone go, you probably will not – or at least should not — be on his or her reference list. End the conversation with a handshake and your best wishes, and you’re done.
- Know the fine print: When firing an employee, there are HR details that you must know. Final paychecks or commission checks, the end date for benefits, unemployment benefits, as well as giving back equipment (phones, keys, or computers) are common questions for a soon-to-be ex-employee to have. So, before the conversation begins, make sure you talk with your human resources department. Some companies make it a rule to have an HR person sit in, or the firing manager has an HR member come in at the end. Bottom line, you need to have a way to get these questions answered effectively and efficiently.
Hiring and firing can be exhausting, but with a good plan and some practice, you’ll learn to better manage the situation – and the outcome.
Haden, Jeff. “The Best Way to Fire an Employee.” Inc. magazine. March 19, 2012. (September 27, 2014). http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/how-to-fire-an-employee.html