Jeff Korhan: Finding the Best

Columns - Industry Voices

Every month our columnists give their take on a common topic. Last month they wrote about the state of the industry. This month they offer advice on hiring new employees.

November 2, 2011
Jeff Korhan

  Jeff Korhan

When you have the right people on board, there is nothing more rewarding than operating a small business in your local community.

Years after selling my company, that's what I remember most – the people, and how we worked together well, regardless of the challenges. In fact, how everyone responded in those challenging times always affirmed who was right for our company, and where some changes needed to be made.

While I'm sure there are many ways to recruit and hire, what worked best for me was creating a company that others wanted to join – and hiring less on talent, and more on a desire to help build a business that we could all be proud of at the end of the day.

The community. Our landscape company seldom had difficulty attracting good people because we were active in our community. Being an active member in your Chamber of Commerce, organizations such as Rotary, and staying in touch with former professors all help to bring the best to your door.

Of course, you now have social media to better stay in touch with friends and share stories about the good work your company is doing. This is not only vital for attracting good people – it will bring in new business too.

The work environment. Those that choose to work in the green industry often do so because they enjoy working in a natural environment – with as little time in the office as possible. So, it stands to reason that working conditions are key recruiting tool.

We placed a great deal of emphasis on having a nice office environment that was clean, comfortable and informal. Many of our office staff told us this was a deciding factor for them joining our company.

They also appreciated that we used and invested in technology. The same was true for our production workers. Well-maintained and safe equipment and working conditions are essential in every position.

The right fit. Our experience was that hiring for desire and attitude works nearly every time. My biggest mistake early on was hiring for talent. We lost business due to talented employees that did not fit our customer-centric culture.

Of course, desire fades if the company does not have systems in place for ensuring success. This is why we placed a great deal of emphasis on showing candidates that we had processes that were clear and understood.

In fact, we walked candidates through the same materials we used for presentations to new prospects, and for the same reasons – to give them confidence and differentiate our company.

Finally, when you hire on intuition as we did, it is helpful to have metrics that validate your judgment. In the late '90s, we discovered the Kolbe A Index – a 20-minute questionnaire that is taken online. It proved to be invaluable, so we never hired without checking the Kolbe score against our subjective assessment.

When you have found a good person, the Kolbe helps you to be sure you are placing them in a position where they can succeed. You can learn more about the Kolbe Index at

Jeff Korhan is a speaker, consultant and top-ranked blogger on new media and small business marketing.;