Who are your best hires?
Who are the people who will advance through the ranks of your company? The people who probably won’t move out of the warehouse?
While most of us tend to look for new hires who show promise of moving through the different positions of our company, that’s not always the best option… for them OR you. The idea that you should only hire people who will move up the career ladder is a myth that too many AV companies buy into.
Here’s how this looks for the typical AV production rental company:
1. We hire someone for their potential to become a show technician.
2. We train them for 90 days in the warehouse.
3. During these 90 days, we start scheduling them to work shows.
4. When they’re ready, they become full-time show technicians, but then we have no one to fill their spot in the warehouse.
In this method, we’ve not only limited our pool of new employees, we’ve set ourselves up to be short-handed in the warehouse as soon as someone moves on. Many of us are stuck in this hiring pattern but, fortunately, there’s a better alternative.
Why We Hire People on a Traditional Career Path
If hiring people who intend to move up in the company creates more work for you, why do we do it?
Simply put, it’s how we were brought up. From childhood, we were taught about the career ladder in school, on TV, and thorough our parents’ and grandparents’ lives. We were raised to believe that’s what we’re supposed to do. Consequently, we assume everyone should be on this same trajectory.
However, not all motivated people want career advancement. In reality, there are many people who are highly motivated to earn a steady paycheck and put groceries on their table. They’re happy to work the same job for as long as you’ll let them — and they’ll be good at it. Not everyone has to (or even wants to) become a salesperson or a technician.
We incorrectly assume that warehouse workers don’t want to stay there. Owners tell me, “They’re asking to be technicians! They want to learn and do new things!” But when I ask the workers why they want to be technicians, they say it’s because they want the overtime. They want to make more money, but our compensation systems discourage people from having careers in something useful like working in operations.
Another reason we hire this way comes from the idea that every employee should be billable. We think, “I don’t want to hire someone that won’t generate income!” And the best way to make employees billable in our industry is by sending them out on jobs… but that means they don’t stay in the warehouse.
4 Truths About Your New Hires
While the myth that we should only hire people who will advance through our company persists, the reality of our industry looks much different. The truth is, not all employees will want to move up. They’ll be drawn to the paycheck before they think about job satisfaction, which can actually hurt your company in the long run.
1. Career path people are rare.
Career path people are rarer than we think. It’s great when you hire someone who’s clearly on the upward track to do great things in your company. You were likely that person when you started in the industry.
But there are also people who are content doing a great job in the same place for a long time. The more we embrace that approach, the more potential it has to benefit our company and our employees.
2. Workers are first drawn to earning opportunities — not the career.
When you’re an entry-level worker pushing road boxes, it’s hard to see the career ahead. But in time, they’ll see a potential career. For now, they want to earn a living, so they’ll follow the money. If the opportunity to earn more money arises, even in the same role, they’ll go there.
3. Job satisfaction becomes more important as the career progresses.
As financial needs are met, job satisfaction gains importance. If we want employees to grow within their current position, we need to encourage job satisfaction sooner. Job satisfaction increases both employee retention and their knowledge base of the organization. Plus, when it’s time to hire someone new, you have experienced people working alongside them who can be invaluable trainers.
4. We promote potential lifetime employees out of their best jobs.
If we believe every employee’s career path is promotion, we end up creating the Peter Principle — promoting someone to their level of incompetence. If I promote a competent person, and keep promoting them, eventually, I’ll move them into a job they’re not equipped to do. After a while, I’ll need to fire them.
Rather than promote people past their point of success, find where they work best. Then, let them thrive there.
2 Ways to Put Employees on the Right Career Path (For You and Them)
Don’t buy into the idea that we can only hire people who will advance in the company. Set career paths for all types of workers: operations workers, technicians, salespeople, and administrators. You can do this by creating levels within each type of job and by offering overtime opportunities for everyone.
1. Create levels for every type of job.
Create levels 1, 2, and 3 in every position to allow all employees to grow their compensation — no matter their career path. They can work to increase their income without having to completely change roles.
To make this financially feasible for your company, cap the compensation for each position so employees can’t infinitely grow their salary.
2. Offer overtime opportunities for everyone.
When asked to describe our industry to someone outside the AV field, I sum it up in one statement: We move heavy things in trucks and we create overtime.
We’re in the overtime business. Overtime is part of what we do.
Balance overtime opportunities between your staff and the use of outside labor. Smart scheduling that fairly distributes the income to more employees enables you keep people in operations jobs longer.
Not every career path in the AV industry looks the same — and it shouldn’t.
The better you establish processes in your company to accommodate different types of hires — those who stay put in a role and those who move through the various departments — the better equipped you’ll be at all levels of your organization.