We’ve all heard the business adage "Hire character, train skill." But what does it mean? How do you do it? And, finally, how important is it when it comes to your wedding and event business? In this post, I’m going to be speaking entirely about independent contractors as opposed to employees, as the process is a little different when hiring for short-term gigs rather than full-time work with a company. So, let’s get started!
Unfortunately this isn't as simple as the phrase implies. Sure, you can find someone with integrity, loyalty, common sense and a positive attitude, but you may need to start from scratch when it comes to training them in the ways of your industry. Especially when it comes to independent contractors, you may prefer to hire someone with a bit more relevant experience. While absolutely noble and altruistic, finding a blank slate to mold into your ideal team member and teaching them everything you know might be a bit time-consuming for a busy professional with a bustling business.
Just as clients are looking for someone with expertise that they can trust with their event, you too should be looking for people that you connect with and who “get” you and your business. If your company encourages a whimsical, creative style coupled with a down-to-earth attitude and sense of humor, then those are the exact qualities you should be looking for in a new addition to your team. You may admire someone’s work or like their personality in general, but if they don’t align with your brand they are not a good fit. You need to be confident, right from the start, that they are trustworthy and will get along swimmingly with your existing team - even if that team is only you.
Action Item: Make a list of attributes that are important to you when working with someone. This is a good starting point when hiring someone with the right character to suit your business. Also, take a look at your reviews and highlight adjectives that appear repeatedly throughout. This is how your clients view your business and will accurately describe the type of person you should look for when hiring.
I personally believe that most new hires, especially for temporary jobs such as weddings and events, should already possess the skills necessary to fulfill the job description. They should have years of experience freelancing, running their own company or under the employment of a company like yours. You want someone who has run into problems and learned to solve them on their own and someone who understands your industry because they have already worked in it extensively. Perhaps they already have the equipment and education necessary to perform the duties required.
Keep in mind that you will be training them in the practices of your business and how to embody your company’s brand. If you choose someone who mostly possesses these qualities already, you will be halfway there. If they arrive at your company with some expertise and skill, this process will be much easier to implement. How you proceed will vary from company to company. Perhaps you have a formal training program in place for new hires, maybe they simply shadow you or a team member for a period of time, or you might have a written business manual that outlines all your processes. Whatever your method, new hires should be given a firm idea of the types of clients your company handles, the various protocols applied to each of the projects they will be handling and how to conduct themselves in most situations.
Action Item: Take some time to think about which method that fits your style and personality: a training program, shadowing, business manual, or a combination of methods. This may require some homework on your part before you start looking for new hires; however, being prepared before you start interviewing will instill trust with prospective contractors that you have a plan for their work with your company.
In summary, finding the ideal independent contractor for your company doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating, especially when hiring for individual projects and events. You are not committed to working with an independent contractor indefinitely and if you find they are not a good fit, move on. Only you know what is best for your business. so trust your judgement, do a little preparation and take your time to build what will hopefully be a lasting, mutually beneficial working relationship.