How To Avoid Building A Cowboy Workforce

Carl Meredith is the Managing Director of www.MyJobQuote.co.uk ,that combines technology with manual checks in order to provide users with a choice of affordable quotes from quality tradespeople.

Those working in the trades are often plagued with stereotypes, with media reports of cowboy builders and horror stories abounding via word of mouth, bringing a lot of suspicion to the trade. If you’re a genuine worker, it can be hard to navigate, but if you’re running a business and employing other people, it’s even harder. 

When your reputation is at stake, and one bad experience could cause real damage, how do you work out who to trust? Who deserves a place in your team, and what warning signs suggest you need to steer well clear?

Here are some tips on building a reliable and trustworthy team that you can depend on…

  1. Don’t rely on recommendations…

Many companies get into trouble due to taking too casual an approach when it comes to recruitment. Taking on a worker based on who they know, rather than what they know, is a recipe for disaster. Friends and family members likely mean well when they offer up recommendations and there’s no reason why you can’t add their suggestions to the mix, but they should still have to meet your usual recruitment checklist before they get invited onto the team. It’s far less awkward to say no at this stage, than have to fire them further down the line and end on seriously uncomfortable terms.

  1. Turn back the clock…

If you’re prepared to take someone on after a ten minute chat and a good vibe, you need to re-evaluate your strategy. It’s worth taking the extra time to make sure you have all the information you can – think about asking for references that you can speak to directly, and not just one or two; the more the merrier. If you can get a good view of the person’s history, you’ll understand their work ethic and how they will deliver for your business.

  1. Get social…

Do your research when it comes to social media and review sites. While it might not seem relevant, you can actually tell a lot about a person (or at least their persona, lifestyle and peers) according to their social media profiles. A cowboy might be able to cover their tracks in person, but things often end up coming out of the woodwork when you look online.

  1. Over-promising leads to under-delivering…

If someone sounds too good to be true, if they claim to be experts at every possible skill and have experience in every possible situation, then you should be extra vigilant when it comes to getting the proof to their pudding. It’s all very well singing your own praises, but there’s a big line that needs to be drawn and no candidate should ever cross into fabrication.  Alarm bells should always sound if a candidate has done everything you ask, a million times, far better than anyone else.

  1. Not admitting their own weaknesses…

Being humble enough to admit weakness suggests that a) they are honest and b) they are willing to learn, develop and improve. If they refuse to admit any signs of imperfection, it could be a sign that they really don’t think they have and will therefore struggle with criticism or, worse, they are locking their skeletons away in the hopes you won’t find them.

  1. Supervise…

Don’t bring someone onto the team and immediately leave them unattended. It might not have to be you yourself, but somebody experienced should be on hand to oversee any new starter at all times, no matter what rank they come in at. This is not just a case of protecting yourself, but also a better practice way to manage and train new staff rather than just chucking them into the deep end and leaving them to get on with it as best they can.

  1. Listen to customers…

If your reviews change, or your relationships start to show unexpected fractions, consider why this might be. If your new starters are dealing with clients or suppliers first hand, don’t be afraid to ask them how they are getting on to get that outsider perspective. Some might not feel comfortable speaking up or complaining, so if you show a little interest it can help you get a better impression of what’s really going on when you’re not around.

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