Business is easy until People (aka Employees) get involved. This is a great line from Dave Ramsey's book "EntreLeadership." Adding employees is a game changer because you instantly become a manager, deal with HR issues, personalities and of course, payroll. I sat down with Alan De Keyrel, owner of CWS to talk about his thoughts on employees.
Me: You now have 18 employees. What’s your hiring philosophy?
Alan: Hire slowly. It’s one of the most important decisions you will make. It takes time to learn a person’s skills and determine how they will fit with the rest of the group. Often, when people quit, you feel like you have to fill the hole quickly, which is probably the worst move you could make. At CWS we do multiple rounds of interviews. We do a quick initial. Then have the candidate meet with the people they'll work with directly, and then entire team.
ON HIRING & MOTIVATION
Me: What's important in dealing w/Employees?
Alan: The most important thing in dealing with employees is finding out what motivates them: Money? Job stability? A fun place to work? You need to know what's important to them. I always ask that question in the initial interview. My other mandatory interview question is to ask what winning means to them.
Me: How do you motivate Employees?
Alan: By providing opportunities to learn and grow and again, finding out what motivates them. Here at CWS we do DISC personality profiles so we can understand what motivates each other and how to best communicate with different personality types. Everyone has access to a teammate’s profiles and they are displayed near each person’s desk.
Me: What do you do when an Employee isn't working out?
Alan: Figure out why it isn't working out. If it’s a work ethic issue that’s one thing but often it’s something else. We do KRA’s which is a written document that states what our expectations are so it’s clear. You can’t leave that up to chance and hope that they are on the same page. Additionally, look to see if you've given them all the tools they need. Sometimes after you get to know someone better you discover they have different skills or passions. Are they in the right seat on the bus?
ON EMPLOYEE HAPPINESS
Me: How do you deal with employees differently than typical companies?
Alan: I don't know how other companies do it but here at CWS we treat them like family and pay them like we’d want to be paid. Flexibility is also key in today’s world. We set up our technology so we can always stay connected. Let’s say there’s bad weather. An employee has access to all their files, can remotely log in to meetings and is always on chat so they can work from home and stay connected. We think of all our employees as part owner. They have a say in decisions and get to see the company financials.
Me: What do you do to enhance employee happiness?
Alan: Tons of stuff! Turn over issues are costly so we invest in keeping them here. A few years back I read "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh. Ever since I've spent time and money making employees happy. We actually have a line on our P&L called "Employee Happiness." That expense goes towards things like monthly massages, holiday parties, lunches, and surprise awards. In fact, we’ve doubled the amount that we spent on Employee Happiness from a year ago.
Me: What advice would you give to someone just starting in business in regards to employees?
Alan: If you're a new business without a lot of revenue, hold off on hiring employees for as long as you can. But realize a highly effective team is always better than what one person can do, but it comes with new challenges. I wish that I would have taken more time to read books about leadership, teamwork and motivation, before I started hiring people.