09/04/2014 12:49 EDT | Updated 11/04/2014 05:59 EST

The One Thing I Did To Hire The Best Employee Ever

I was terrible at hiring, could not find the right fit and wound up doing more work rather than less with each hire until I finally figured this out. The one thing I did to hire the best employee ever: I stayed awake all night.

Her interview with me was at 8:30 am.

When I came in to work at 7:00 am I was exhausted, my eyes were bloodshot and the coffee wasn't even helping. I was mad at myself for having to fire the last three people I had hired into this position, I was making poor hiring decisions. I was frustrated by the fact that seemingly, no one cared about doing good work or productivity anymore. I was deflated because I knew that if I hired again like I had been doing for the last 8 months, nothing would change.....I would have another lead weight employee and I would wind up doing more work, not less.

She walked in for the interview and in that moment, my shattered and exhausted ego relented and gave way to the following three things:

1. I will hire on feel and fit, not paperwork

2. I will disclose in full the terrible parts of this job

3. I will disclose in full my own terrible shortcomings and what it is like to work for me because of them.

After my traditional line of questioning and selling up the great points about the career ahead for anyone lucky enough to get this position, I launched into my full disclosure and she sat staring at me like one does a child who is walking a fine balance atop a 4 foot brick wall.....with anticipation, excitement and a heaping does of sheer shock and wonder shaken together.

A couple of excerpts from my disclosure statements:

"I receive anywhere from 60 to 130 relevant e-mails per day. If an email is longer than three paragraphs I will not read it. I will ignore it. If you send me an email like this, you will be ignored. This is just the truth. My attention span is short. In fact, and even worse, I will forward all emails longer than three paragraphs to you and ask you to read and summarize for me into relevant bullet points so that I can digest it. This is truly how I operate."

"I dislike tardiness so much that if I see you are even three minutes late to work, it will wear on my opinion of you."

I told her that I intend on hiring for this job just once and that if this job sounds like a fit, I would be happy to have her.

She accepted the job.

It is now 10 years later, she is still with me and I love how we work together. Full of trust and truth. We get things done together that neither would do alone because we know the limits of the other and the strengths of the other.

Let's face it, after working with anyone or anywhere for more than 6 months, you know all of the terrible, annoying, both small and large issues with a boss or colleague. Does it not make sense to disclose this stuff out of the gates so that you can find a person who is willing to work with the firm despite its shortcomings?

I liken it to job dating.... we don't marry someone after one date, we take some time to get to know what they are really like before we commit our lives to them. I think the same should be true about how we approach our careers.... we need to know the good and bad to make a great decision.

Underperforming, unambitious and just plain poor employees will weed themselves out of the process when you disclose your inconvenient truths. Only the committed, determined and self-aware will accept and isn't this who we all want working for us anyways?

It took me staying up all night and reaching near exhaustion to get fed up enough to seek a new solution to hiring... I hope you find you sleep easier knowing what I know now. You have to balance the great parts of the job you are offering with the truthful parts of both the job you are offering and what working for you can be like in order to find the right fit for a long term hire you'll be grateful for.

In the spirit of hiring with ease... from the Barefoot Boardroom,

PS - Thank you for turning up for yourself and your business and for sharing my insights with others....for you I am truly grateful.

It's nearing the end of summer for us up here in Canada.....

I love summer but fall, oh fall, how I am looking forward to you.....

Here's to the changing of all seasons, in nature and business.


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