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HR 101 – When you want to hire staff – Part 1

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.

Let me just say from the get go, that in my opinion, we more often than not, hire staff that we either do not need or alternatively that are completely unsuitable.

Let me explain my statement.

Firstly we have the situation where we hire staff that we don’t need – this is what happens when you walk into your office and are confronted by this huge mound of paper, files, stuff all over the desk – well you assume that it is a desk, because you cannot see it. Your first ‘knee jerk’ reaction is “I need help” and your second ‘knee jerk’ reaction is – “I have to hire a staff member”. This is where you need to step away from the problem, take a deep breath, go and have a cup of coffee, a large whiskey (or whatever your choice of poison) and do nothing else. Chances are, you see, that you actually don’t need anything more than a student type person for a couple of hours to help you clear through the backlog.

Secondly we have the situation, where you are correct, you do need someone to help you and your friend’s, aunties sister who lives down the road was recently retrenched and ‘ag shame’ she could do with the money – so you hire her and then while she sits and watches you work, you do all the work because she has no clue how to do anything! Bad move that! In this situation you are stuck with the new employee that you actually don’t want because they are not helping you but rather costing you money and giving you additional work.

Here’s the thing, before you actually hire anyone, you need to sit yourself down and ask yourself some really hard questions like (but not limited too):
1. Do you really need help or are you just a little behind?
2. What exactly will the person do – or rather (in the spirit of being absolutely honest with yourself), what work, that you are currently doing are you prepared to relinquish to another person – because that is exactly what it is that you will have to do.
3. This work that you are prepared to give up to your new employee – how long does it take you to do it (this will determine whether you need a full day person, or a half day person or a now and then person).
4. Are you giving the person the things that you hate to do (in which case it would be crazy to hire someone exactly like you – you should be looking at someone completely different to you) or are you going to part with the things that you absolutely love to do (I don’t think that that is even up for discussion – do you?).

So now you have asked and answered the questions – now how do you go about finding that particular person and then interviewing them and then hiring them, and yes, it is a process.

Firstly, I would suggest that you write down exactly what they will need to do and what (if any) qualifications or experience you think that they will need to have in order to fulfil their obligations.

Hiring somebody’s aunties, granny who lives down the road and who has never used a computer to do all your online marketing, is not a good idea, I am sure you will agree. So it’s fair to say that it would be a good idea to take each task that you want that particular person to perform and list the minimum skills that they would require in order to perform those skills.

What usually happens now, is that you are left with a list of (but not limited to)
a. Qualifications (e.g. bookkeeping certificate)
b. Skills (e.g. computer literate and versed in excel and office)
c. Experience (e.g. 3 years as an administrative assistant)

and of course a list of what you want them to do such as (but not limited to):
d. maintaining of filing, both paper and electronic, in compliance with laid down procedures
e. data capture new members and maintain existing database
f. check and confirm prices and calculation on shipping documents
g. check and confirm duties charged on imports etc

Now you have the basics of a Job description – and here’s the bonus, the new staff member’s performance (or lack thereof) can be measured.

Once all your requirements and duties are listed, you can use the list to draft your job spec and once your job spec is drafted and you have handed it to the recruitment agency or posted it on the various websites you subscribe to, hopefully you will now start getting some CV’s in.

Next time we will have a look at the next step.