You may consider yourself a good judge of character when hiring employees. But there's no way to tell in advance what people will or won't do after they're on your payroll. Because you hire people in the hope they'll succeed rather than fail, it's not easy to accept failure. Nor can you, as owner or manager, escape a sense of error when firing someone because it means you didn't hire the right person in the first place.
A recent U.S. Department of Labor survey showed that only about 50 percent of newly hired employees last more than six months on the job. Therefore, when hiring someone, you also must be prepared to fire that same individual.
Put policies down in writing-particularly those pertaining to hiring and firing-and document everything necessary to prove the employee was fairly treated.
Unfortunately, the hiring in our industry often is done by novices who make their decisions based on how they ``feel'' about a candidate after the job interview. Hiring strictly on the basis of ``gut feelings'' could leave an employer with totally different feelings later-namely, heartburn and ulcers.
When interviewing potential employees, guard against promising too much or implying things without meaning to do so.
Resist the temptation to oversell the position. Remember, the idea is to make certain the person you're hiring will fit the job and stay with you over the long haul.
Deciding what qualifications you need in an employee seems simple enough-merely list the specific needs and responsibilities of the job and then determine the skills and experience needed to carry them out successfully.
You must be brutally frank with yourself and recognize that the job you're offering may not be all that attractive to many applicants.
What you consider an exciting business or challenging opportunity may not appear that way to most applicants.
You may need to take a hard look at the negatives of the job and accept the fact that in order to hire the right person, you may have to lower your sights or take steps to make the work situation more attractive.
Consider the specific aspects of the job being evaluated. How attractive is your shop environment? Is your service and retreading equipment up to date or labor-intensive? How do the salary and advancement opportunities you're offering compare with those of competitors?
In other words, put yourself in the applicant's shoes and think about what he or she is looking for. You may not be able to eliminate all the negatives of the job. But you should be aware of them nonetheless and factor in the aspects necessary to deal with such negatives.
Because of their very nature, most U.S. retread shops have plenty of negatives, they certainly do not provide an ideal working atmosphere.
Hiring only people with experience not only limits the field, but leads to inbreeding. You may end up with employees who have been recycled from shop to shop-not an infrequent practice in our industry.
Firing someone is one of the toughest and most unpleasant things required of an employer. Doing so may bring crisis to the employee and his or her family. I've had to fire many people during my long career and it didn't get any easier after years of practice. What helped to ease the pain, however, was the realization that it is better to fire employees who don't measure up than retain those who aren't worth keeping.
Not firing a problem worker often makes a bad situation worse. It's not fair either to you, the employer, or to other employees.
But even if firing wasn't so unpleasant, it would still present potential legal problems. More and more terminated employees are suing their former employers for ``wrongful termination.''
For this reason, an easy-to-understand document outlining the warnings and other policy procedures leading to termination should be distributed to all employees.
Once you fire someone, the fact remains that you may have opened yourself to litigation no matter how carefully the groundwork has been laid.
Our nation's legal system gives employees the financial incentive to sue. It functions like a giant lottery offering big financial jackpots to those who sue and win. And the only way to avoid funding someone else's winnings is to make sure you don't have to go to court in the first place.
More often than not, it doesn't matter whether you win in court. If you're like most employers, by the time you reach that point, you will have long since spent big bucks on legal costs.
Therefore, when firing anyone, set up the exit interview with a non-involved third party. Never fire out of anger. And always give the decision to fire as much careful thought as you gave the decision to hire.
If you plan carefully, set policies wisely, hire carefully and write everything down, the firing process becomes much easier. It will sometimes come as an anticlimax if you have managed well. But don't count on it.