When it comes time for Shelly Sun to hire a new employee at BrightStar Healthcare LLC, she’s done plenty of research to help her reach a decision with her team.
That’s because the founder and CEO spends months sometimes even a year networking to find the perfect match for her $12 million health care franchising company. And almost everyone she knows hears about her hunt for the smartest people in the field.
“It’s about talking to as many people as possible,” she says.
Smart Business spoke with Sun about hiring employees and creating a culture that keeps the business running smoothly, even when she’s on vacation.
Q. How do you create a culture that keeps the company running smoothly?
I wouldn’t have been ready to put this culture into my company three years ago. I’ve evolved there by putting together an advisory board of people that are smarter than me and having to listen to them to be the most successful.
Really look at the core functional areas of the company and who your department head is for that and have them put together their own strategic plans for their division and present it to all their fellow team members. And as hard as it is, don’t say anything. If I start interjecting my opinion, it’s going to be Shelly’s strategic plan for their department, not their strategic plan for their department.
I intentionally don’t attend some interim meetings because everybody’s looking to take a cue from the CEO. If I’m squashing it or asking questions as though I don’t support it, everybody else will follow suit.
I want to have my say at the ninth step of 10 in the process, but having my say in steps one through three means nothing happens in four through eight other than what I already came up with.
Q. How do you find those self-starters for your team?
The old saying, ‘Hire slow; fire fast,’ is probably one of the smartest sayings ever created. I don’t know who said it first, but it’s probably one of the best guiding principles in any organization at any level.
I think that when you rush it, you hire the wrong people. You hire out of desperation versus true fit.
Assess your own culture. For any CEO, depending on what their culture is if it’s a more formal culture, then they want to look to network people that are more formal, and not everybody will be, so that’s why I start early. Any hiring manager should start early.
It’s always a stronger hire to network (with others) to a hire than find them cold because you can find out true information about them. Because I’ve gotten them as a reference from someone, and that someone knew them typically in some kind of work setting, I can find out what makes them tick.
That’s important information you can’t get by calling the human resources department.
Q. Once you have the right people, how do you turn them into a unified team?
Not only do we have the culture and have everybody know each other already in our organization, but everybody has buy-in to who we hire. I don’t want them just looking at only a 12-month horizon; they need to be thinking about the people they’re going to hire with the skill set that’s going to grow with them, as well.
I think peer interviewing is very overlooked in most organizations. It’s probably the most important. We’ll get [candidates] in for a full-day, in-person interview. All of those people that are presenting their strategic plans? They’re interviewing with all seven of those plus me.
What I typically see from my peers is that the person comes in and interviews with human resources and then they interview with the CEO or whoever is going to hire them, and they don’t hire with all the other departments. From our organizational standpoint, I think that would be a mistake in our organization to not have all the departments involved in those key hires.
Q. What are the key aspects to creating a sustainable business?
That is only accomplished by hiring the best and creating a culture where they feel comfortable being able to run a company as though they owned it. What I’ve tried to do is establish that kind of entrepreneurial culture. If they don’t all win together, nobody wins.
I don’t feel like I have to be the one to step in and make sure they’re staying on the right track. I would if I needed to, but I try to bite my tongue and not, because the group will self-correct without me having to.
For the first time, I feel like I [can] go away for 10 days’ vacation with my family, and I don’t have to check in with the office at all. That’s truly the benefit of being an entrepreneur. It’s taken me seven years to have the right culture and the right team to feel like I can do that.
Megan Tackett also contributed to this story.
HOW TO REACH: BrightStar Healthcare LLC, (866) 618-7827 or www.brightstarhealthcare.com