Your employees are your company's greatest asset. That's a truism so obvious it's equivalent to saying The Sun brings light and warmth. Still, we all can use reminders of the obvious in our lives from time to time. And with managing employees, it's important to keep that reminder lively in your memory. That truism, employees are your greatest assets, rings truer and louder and clearer, in small companies than their bigger competitors. Each new employee at a small company is guaranteed to have an immediate impact from the moment they arrive. The risk/reward ratio is higher with new hires at small companies. The cost of a mis-hire is considered to be, on average, 3-4 times their annual salary. The cost of mis-hire at a small company can exceed that and quickly reach ... the entire company. On the other hand, the reward from a great new hire at a small company can be...the entire company, again. A doubling of revenues or customers or cutting costs in half is the impact a good hire can bring quickly to a small company. What resources are available to insure you, small business leaders, hire the best? (I'll talk recruiting candidates and keeping your best employees on another post.) Let's assume you and your employees have gathered 3-4 top candidates to interview. I'm going to share with you the steps and resources I used with 100% success as CEO: 3 great hires and 1 bad hire avoided. Here they are: 1) Read Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People. Just read it. There's no need to read ALL of it. But read the first 2-3 chapters BEFORE you begin the interview. 2) Read The Smart Interviewer: Tools and Techniques for Hiring the Best. 3) Customize the "CIDS Interview". It's outlined in great detail in The Smart Interviewer. You'll want to customize it slightly for the position at your company. Why use the CIDS Interview? CIDS stands for Chronological In-Depth Survey. The CIDS Interview is a proven methodology for identifying behavior patterns in your candidate over the course of their education and career, to that point. The book outlines in great detail the questions you'll use to conduct a chronological in-depth survey of your candidate's background. Your goal is to identify your candidate's behavior patterns as they faced opportunities and challenges, successes and failures, from school to their most recent position. There's no trick question of the month involved here. There's no standard interview questions everyone now knows how to answer. It's a consistently applied survey of their responses to stress and change, opportunity and setbacks, success and 'learning opportunity' as they faced it throughout their adulthood. 4) Involve your company in the interview. Assign a different department/team/group to conduct the CIDS Interview with the candidate for a different period of their career or education: * Sales interviews them about their college years; * Operations takes their first job post-college; * Customer Service interviews them about their 2nd job, etc. It's vital to involve everyone in a small company in the interview and hiring process. It's obvious why. But...obvious truths need reminding. A. You have blind spots. We all have blind spots. This helps you protect you from yourself, in effect. Many hands make light work. Many eyes make all seen. B. Their involvement increases their engagement and endorsement of the decision. They understand why. They've participated. And rightfully so. No one likes a hire, especially a bad hire, dropped on their day. C. It makes for a welcoming reception for the new hire. They've met everyone already. They're greeted with smiles. Their desk is prepared. Everyone's prepared to make this person a success. 5) Commit to the time required. CIDS Interviews can take 4-6 hours per candidate. I found 8 hours were required. Compare that to the time needed to manage a bad hire and their aftermath. Is an hour of your time, or even 2-3 hours with a candidate interview, worth losing your company for? Ok, then. 6) Offer them $1000 to leave after 30 days. OK, I've never done that. But I'm considering doing it in the future. Zappos does this. I found this out a few weeks ago. They offer each new hire, at the end of their first 30 days, $1000 to leave. Pack up, see you later, thanks for the memories, no harm. And Zappos has grown from $70 million in revenues 5 years ago to ... a projected $1 billion in revenues for this year. Links for the story about Zappos' $1000 see you later bonus: * BrandAutopsy by John Moore, * Game Changer by Bill Taylor. And if YOU do this, offer your new hire(s) $1000 to leave right then, let us know the results. My thinking is you'll never need to do this with your investment in the CIDS Interview. On the other hand, it's a very primal way to make sure your new hire is a keeper. And it's a cheap way to fix it if they're not. Good luck. * * * * * About the Author: Zane Safrit's passion is small business and the operations' excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited. Zane's blog can be found at Zane Safrit.