Hiring good people Featured

7:00pm EDT December 26, 2007

Good employees are those who show up for work on time and are enthusiastic about getting down to business. They bring the skill sets needed. They get along well with fellow workers.

However, there is more to it than that. Both in his job and in the offices of his customers, Ron Biggs, vice president of business banking with Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, has seen a lot of successful hires.

Smart Business spoke with Biggs about what makes a good employee, and what a company can do to find successful hires.

Beyond showing up on time, what other aspects make a good employee?

Dependability. When you say you’re going to do something, then do it. When you are expected to be at work at a certain time or at a specific location, be there. When you receive a phone message or e-mail, return it in a timely manner — no excuses. When employers and co-workers know you are dependable, it makes scheduling and workload distribution much easier.

Trustworthiness. A reputation of being honest and above reproach in all your dealings will go a long way with any employer. When problems arise involving losses, questionable activities or other difficult situations, it’s worth a lot to know you can be trusted.

Manageability. There’s little that makes life more difficult for an employer than an employee who is difficult to supervise or always knows a better way to do things. There are no perfect bosses, but insubordination and resistance to doing a job the way the boss wants it done is no good for anyone.

Teamwork. Employers usually don’t cherish ‘lone rangers’ or employees who compete out of greed. An exemplary employee is one who others want to work with and spend time with in the workplace.

Are referrals from good employees generally successful hires?

Yes. A good employee sees the value in individuals who share the same work ethic or similar work-related aspects that would work well in the company. Employee referrals should be encouraged.

How does one assure that HR is a help — not a roadblock — to finding the right person?

Be involved in the process early. HR has to fill many positions in the organization and typically cannot know everything about every job class and who would fit best. Groups have personalities just as individuals do. The manager of that group should be involved to assist in finding an individual who gels with his or her group.

Does it cost more to hire and train a worker than to keep a good one happy?

Typically, yes. However, if an employee is unhappy due to pay or some other situation at the organization, then that problem may be too costly for the organization to resolve. Sometimes, it may be best to part ways with an unhappy employee because his or her influence on other employees may make a difficult situation worse — then the cost can be far greater than hiring a new employee.

Is money the key factor in job satisfaction?

Absolutely not. Employees may say this is their major motivator, however, if you have to come into a work environment every day that is toxic, then the money will play a minor role. A good employer will pay a fair wage and offer a good work environment. There needs to be a good balance between work and employees’ home life. Employees cannot feel like their work lives weigh heavy on them when they are at home with their families.

Is it usually better to promote from within?

Typically, if you can hire within, I would recommend it. The current employee knows the systems and would be more efficient initially. If the promotion is seen as justified by the other employees, then it is an easier buy in to follow this individual’s lead. However, sometimes to move an organization forward, a hire from outside the organization may bring in ideas that have worked at his or her organization and can be duplicated at your organization.

Younger people want to know where they are going in an organization. A more experienced individual may want to know if he or she is going to be an integral part of an organization going forward. I think great organizations have a good mix of both. Experienced workers have the knowledge and should be the mentors for younger employees. I have found younger employees can sometimes mentor the more experienced. More experienced workers may do something a certain way because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ However, a younger employee may look at it in a totally different and better way.

At what point is it worth paying the right individual more money?

If that individual can bring greater success to the individuals working around him or her, then it may very well be worth it to overpay that employee. Look at successful professional sports teams where one individual can elevate an entire team.

RONALD BIGGS is vice president, business banking, with Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati. Reach him at ronaldbiggs@53.com.