A good employee can be a game-changer, but a bad employee can be, too. Their lack of proficiency or effort can cost your business in lost opportunities and low company morale.
So let's take a look at both kinds of employees, starting with the good. We interviewed Amber Ushka (@AmberUshka), the vice president of human resources for the government sales leads company Onvia (@Onvia), for her take on the employees every business needs. Here are her recommendations.
1. The Mascot
First, get the picture of a giant-headed bulldogs and crazy chickens out of your mind. We’re not talking about your alma mater’s mascot – at least, not exactly. Mascots represent their institution; they’re the walking embodiment of everything it stands for. Your business needs plenty of those.
“Skills can be taught, but the cultural contributions someone will make through demonstration of our values is critical to success,” says Ushka. “The ideal employees are a full-on match to our values and our culture, period.”
The takeaway: Culture matters – a lot. Determine what your values are and create an interview to see if candidates are a match. Read “3 Blunders that Can Tank Your Small Business Culture” for ideas.
2. The Storyteller
The storyteller is the candidate who knows the journey of their career. According to Ushka, it’s the super stars who connect the dots between where they are and where they are going: “I like to hear about destinations – you know, the ‘Where do you want to be in five years’ question – but the journey is more interesting and tells me more how they plan to add to their 'story' when they land.”
The takeaway: Good employees understand their career and are constantly learning from it. They add to their story every day, leveraging their experiences and engaging proactively, says Ushka. For someone like that, their work becomes much more than a job.
3. The Questioner
Ushka also looks for candidates who are inquisitive. These employees constantly ask ‘what if,’ which means they’re also the agent of change for your business. She says, “Being curious keeps your mind hungry for knowledge and looking to make things better, faster, stronger.”
The takeaway: Look for candidates who ask questions during the interview. It’s usually a good sign that they prepared, but it might also indicate a person who will grow throughout their career.
Now let's switch gears. Watch out for the next two employees – these are the folks you want to avoid at all costs.
1. The Victim
Victims are some of the most difficult employees to manage. They shift the blame to others and rarely take responsibility for their actions. While that’s annoying to you and their coworkers, it also means they never take the opportunity to learn from their professional mistakes. Hiring someone like that could mean you see lots of Professional Liability Insurance claims.
2. The Goof-Off
The goof-off is there to coast and get a paycheck. They usually drag their feet until someone else comes along to do the heavy lifting for them. The impact on morale is clear, but the bigger risk is that they’ll ignore tasks.
Consider what can happen if this employee overlooks a spill and a customer slips. Suddenly, you’re facing a General Liability Insurance lawsuit. Or what if they’re slow to address a problem with a client? That can easily grow into a Professional Liability claim.
The takeaway: Avoid these types of employees by finding out about their experience with taking charge of a process or project.
Ushka suggests looking for candidates who can describe a time they took ownership of something, even if the outcome wasn’t ideal. “I like to hear candidates talk about their role in it, what they could’ve done differently, what they learned," she says. "They didn’t just sit back and let someone else drive it or worse – be a victim of it.”
The first step to a successful interview process is getting good candidates in front of you. Learn more in “How to Write a Killer Job Description in 4 Easy Steps.”