By David Bennett, Senior Editor
Hiring the right people for a c-store operation can be challenging. One expert at the M-PACT Show in Indianapolis, which concluded March 24, explained how to build a better mousetrap to capture capable candidates.
Over time, Linda McKenna, principal and co-founder of Alexandria, Va.-based Employee Performance Strategies Inc., a consulting firm that provides performance improvement strategies to retail companies, has heard the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to c-store issues. In a session called “Hire the Best,” she shared tips on what operators can do to stock up on applicants capable of evolving into valuable employees.
Overall, it takes time, due diligence and planning to generate a pool of viable candidates.
“It is a challenge to get good people,” McKenna said. “There’s no easy way, no cheat sheet to getting good people.”
The process begins early with an effective interview that incorporates probing questions to separate good candidates from the subpar individuals. That requires extra time at the table. McKenna said in her experience, searching companies spend an average of 15 minutes querying a candidate.
“A good interview should be 45 minutes,” McKenna said.
MORE THAN AVAILABILITY
Even before managers meet an applicant face to face, the company should have practices in place, avoiding five common pitfalls that hiring managers fall into:
- Filling a shift, not finding a shift. McKenna told attendees to begin generating a candidate pool that includes desirable candidate that can be chosen when future vacancies arise.
- Interviewing when needed. Instead c-stores should be interviewing all the time so the candidate pool is deep.
- Halo effect from application. McKenna advised that hiring managers shouldn’t be enamored with every candidate that has c-store experience.
- Questioning techniques that don’t get to the root of why a particular candidate might be a good fit.
- Listening ability that doesn’t decipher pertinent information.
COACHING COMES INTO PLAY
McKenna followed the education session on good hiring with a second session, entitled “Championship Coaching,” which provided attendees pointers on how managers should engage a new worker to get a premium performance once the hiring process is done.
Often it’s the manager’s inability to communicate effectively from the onset and throughout a worker’s tenure that often enable’s that worker’s performance to decline.
“We fail to give feedback or enforce policy,” McKenna said, referring to everyday c-store operations.
Not informing an employee of what he or she is doing wrong, or failing to acknowledge their good work are just two things that can lead to an unhappy work relationship.
Failing to communicate effectively with an employee is usually based on a few reasons, McKenna said, including:
- Wanting to avoid conflict;
- Managers guilty of breaking the same policy;
- Compromising for a worker’s shortcoming because they are good in another area;
- Afraid they will quit;
- Uncomfortable having the conversation.
Instead, McKenna advised establishing an employee training program base on four performance coaching principals, which include performance planning; observation and ongoing feedback; performance review; and recognition and reward.