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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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5 Ways to Hire the IT Best & Avoid the Rest

Posted April 26, 2016by David Russell

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and un-hire an applicant? They seemed like the perfect choice at first, but you quickly realized they weren't right for the position. The time to discover this is not after extending the full time position, but before!

In my program, Dave’s Hire The Best – Avoid the Rest 12-Step System for leaders who are addicted to hiring low performers, I encourage you to never hire a job candidate for any position before first giving them a "test drive." I have been teaching my system since 2004, and this may be its most powerful attribute.

But wait, what exactly is a candidate test drive? How do you route that test track? And do you know how to determine which applicants are worthy of stepping behind the wheel?

Before committing to a full test drive, you can screen potential new hires by giving them simple tasks that demonstrate how well they are able to follow instructions. Here are a few I recommend: 

 

1. TEST ATTENTION TO DETAIL 

In your job advertisement, require respondents to reply with a certain subject line in their email and answer 2-3 questions. If they cannot follow these simple instructions, and write an email devoid of typos with reasonably good grammar, then they are probably not worth your time.

 

2. FURTHER QUALIFY 

After you complete a phone screen of the applicant, one option is to send them an additional 6-12 questions to email back to you before their first in-person interview, or to answer during their first in-person interview. In crafting these additional qualifying questions, think about which ones will actually help you get to know each candidate better.

WARNING: What is the primary objective of your hiring process?

I suggest that it is NOT to find the best candidates. If you hire people systematically then that will happen organically as a result of following a proven system.

Your primary objective is to save time, which ultimately also saves money.

Stop wasting your time interviewing and hiring people who tempt you with their “first date” and “hire me” sweetness. You have to get past their prepared answers and comfortable scripts to really get to know each person. Otherwise, too often you will hire Dr. Jekyll and within a short amount of time realize you got Mr. Hyde.

Let's continue.


3. ASSESS

What happens after candidates pass their first in-person interviews? Are they ready to test drive? Not yet. I recommend you continue to assess these individuals for attitude and aptitude. We have dozens of clients that use our MANAGEtoWIN Talent Assessments, which provide several extremely important insights into each candidate. Our clients are able to leverage summaries and findings on data such as: 

  • key behavioral strengths based on Dominance Influence Steadiness Conscientiousness (DiSC) analysis
  • job applicant motivations in the workplace based on Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values (PIAV) analysis
  • ability to follow simple instructions
  • preferences in supervisors and coworkers, and how you can best align your management style 

Finally, clients receive a written statement of what we see in their report and our data-backed, unbiased opinion on whether they should hire certain applicants. More often than not, this process reveals attributes of candidates that are not quite so apparent otherwise. 

Are you in such a rush to hire someone that you settle for anyone? 

Get real. Too many leaders make hiring decisions too quickly. They think, "I can work with this person. They seem okay to me. Then I can get back to my real work!" A survey years ago concluded 63 percent of all hiring decisions were made in the first three to four minutes of the first interview. Have you been there, done that? (I have, but never again.) 

Be aware of your bias to fill the position so that you can avoid making foolish decisions that waste your time, cost you money, and distract the job candidate from making a career move more suited to their best interests.


4. WRITE

I have some clients require job candidates to sit down and write anywhere from a paragraph to a page on anything. They do this before beginning their first in-person interview. The candidate is being tested primarily for their writing skills, but also to see what they will write about. Whatever candidates choose to communicate provides insight into the team member they could be if hired full-time.

 

5. TEST DRIVE 

There are two things I tell my clients they must do before hiring anyone:

  1. Test drive them for a minimum of 1-4 hours doing actual work, if not several days or weeks.
  2. Pay the job candidate if you have to, but confirm they can actually do the work! 

You would be amazed by how many people interview well, but then perform poorly on the job if they have not completed a reasonable test drive. 

In your offer letter, confirm your company will do a thorough background check prior to the person's first day on the job. I have a particular recipe for a background check that is very effective. I learned it the hard way. Email me if you want details.

You must test drive every job candidate for every position. No excuses. Whatever work they will be doing, have them do some of it before you make a job offer. If they are a technician, then have them work on real tickets with one of your senior technicians. If they are going to manage your social media accounts, then have them do some sample posting for you. If they are a salesperson, then the first time they arrive for an interview have them sell you something. Anything. You have to confirm they can build a relationship with you and that you will want to buy from them. If you would not buy from them, then why would anyone else? If they are going to be a receptionist, then have them answer the phone a bit or complete other duties of that position.

No one is perfect at hiring. We all make mistakes. “Bad Bosses” repeat hiring mistakes. Great leaders learn from their mistakes, vow never to repeat them and put systems in place to protect themselves and their organizations.

If you truly want to hire the best and avoid the rest, then you have to decide what type of leader you're going to be.

Email me if you have any questions, and check out my previous posts to transform the way you manage your managed IT services personnel:

The Definitive Guide to Managed IT Services [eBook]

David Russell is the author of Dave’s Charm School of soft skills training, plus CEO & Senior Consultant at MANAGEtoWIN. He’s been called the Leadership Guy for IT entrepreneurs and has spent the better part of his 43 years in business (34 in the computer channel) working with entrepreneurs to help them hire, manage, develop, and retain superstar employees. David’s mission is “No Bad Bosses.” His LEADERSHIP Essentials services and Certified LEADER programs are totally unique, 1:1 transformational learning experiences. Read more of David’s commentary on leadership, hiring, and company culture at the MANAGEtoWIN blog, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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