The ability to attract and retain the right people in the right seats for your business can be one of the most challenging undertakings, but one that is without question essential to achieving growth.
At GMS, we’ve gone from 0 to now over 130 employees – 85% of which are technical staff that manage the help desk and NOC activities for our MSP customer base.
Over the past 19 years we’ve learned a thing or two about hiring and onboarding new employees that directly contribute to the success of the business and would like to share some of these lessons learned with the community.
Here are 8 essential hiring steps that will help you refine your hiring process.
Step 1. Stringent Candidate Screening
Everything that you do needs to be profile driven. Just like how in sales we focus on our ideal customer profiles, in hiring we need to work from a targeted hiring profile. At GMS we use the Kolbe index to help us understand the psychographic components of our hiring profiles to ensure each new candidate is a fit for the job role, the work environment, and the team.
While we can’t pre-screen based on tools like Kolbe, we can design our job descriptions to speak to and get the attention of candidates that we think may match the Kolbe profile that we need. We will dive into Kolbe further a bit later in this post but you should be thinking about your job posts as a marketing exercise.
Regardless of the specific job functions, the candidate is expected to perform, it’s important to start with foundational job requirements that serve as the baseline for all candidates across the company.
The idea is to build a team that encompasses the same broad base of core skills, particularly when it comes to basic technical acumen as well as customer and internal communication skills.
This foundation of core skills is built upon with specialized technologies or skills that are needed to support a vertical market or category of clients that you serve.
Here’s an example of a core skill set to start your hiring planning.
- Expected to hold the following (minimum) technologies skills and/or distinctions:
- [Enter in the core tools included in your support stack]
- [Enter in the core technologies that you support for clients]
- Functional and fluent in English to meet the specific needs of our client base.
- Functional and fluent in at least one subject matter to support that highly specialized technology beyond the core requirements
- [Enter in any specialized technologies ie. Mac support, Azure, Office 365]
- Certified in at least 2 industry recognized disciplines. ie. Microsoft; CompTIA; Cisco
- Experience (2 years) with web-based technology products (3 years) with Microsoft desktop environments.
- Ability to work in a highly dynamic environment and a proven ability to multi-task.
- Excellent problems solving abilities with the goal of seeing a problem through to its resolution.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills.
- Special considering will be given to candidates who have experience as a:
- Trainer / Instructor
- Teaching Assistant
- 1 on 1 desk-side tutor or coach
Nothing in the candidates’ resume should be accepted without verification. Testing for technologies specified in the applicant’s resume and validating their proficiency through mock support scenarios and online testing needs to be covered with the applicant before progressing in the hiring process.
Step 2. Testing Against Your Ideal Candidate Profile
Once you have a short list of candidates based on the outcomes of your initial meetings and technical testing, it’s time to start focusing on evaluating how each candidate may fit into your team.
A lot can be learned from a simple behavioral test. There are many variations out there, but as noted GMS has standardized on Kolbe as we have found it to be the most encompassing tool to uncover any predispositions a candidate carries and perhaps most importantly understanding what it will take to effectively (and how to best) coach and develop the candidate to grow within the company.
The Kolbe Index is a profiling tool which provides an accurate map of an individual’s natural instincts, or modus operandi (MO) and connects that potential to the job role required. This is incredibly helpful to further refine your short list and focus your hiring efforts on the best possible candidates.
Once the Kolbe profile has been met, higher more advanced technology testing validating their proficiency may be administered, this can be decided based on the outcome of Management interviews.
Step 3. Meet the Managers and Supervisors
Armed with notes from the initial interview, the outcome of the technical testing and the candidates profile -you or your Management and Supervisory team should be prepared to further evaluate each shortlisted candidate. This portion of the hiring process is centered around a cultural fit and aims to answer questions like:
- Does the candidate require micro-management or are they a self-starter?
- Can they think outside of the box? Are they customer-centric as well as technologically savvy?
- Can they handle the pace?
- Are they in tune with constantly learning and sharing new best practices versus the status quo?
- Can they appreciate that in technical support scenarios their customers often begin in a negative emotional state and that this raw emotion is not aimed at them nor their skills?
- Are they respectful of the needs regardless of their technological abilities?
- Can they accept your company’s core values? Will your company provide an environment which promotes growth and challenge?
Each of these points of discovery will be examined. The fit is fundamentally important. The cost of training is high, and the reward must be attainable on both sides of the interview camera.
Once the fit is established, the candidate (with their permission, and upon verbal acceptance of the high-level job requirements) the extensive background check is underway.
Step 4. Extensive Background Check
Before undertaking a background check, it is important to directly ask the candidate about their background giving them the opportunity to discuss anything you might find once a background check is performed.
Criminal background checks are certainly the most basic of checks to perform, but also understanding your candidates’ credit and financial background can be helpful information. When dealing with sensitive data and personal privacy issues you must tread lightly based on the laws within your state or province and be sure to seek legal counsel.
There are a number of companies out there that offer extensive background checks. GMS has taken the stance that working with a top tier service provider in this arena is an important investment and one worth every penny. Any costs associated with these checks are far outweighed by the potential loss of time and money investing in a candidate who does not meet the most basic requirements for employment.
At the end of the day, the background check must yield a complete and full clearing without blemish.
Once the background check comes back with full clearance, the formal ‘Letter of Offer’ is prepared.
Step 5. Preparing and Presenting the Letter of Offer
When the candidate becomes a recruit!
Before presenting the letter of offer it is always best to start with a verbal offer, explaining the compensation, duties, responsibilities, and expectations.
The verbal offer should be submitted to the recruit by a supervisor or manager who will be acting as the recruits’ direct report and should yield a verbal agreement between both parties. If you find yourself with two comparable candidates it is good practice to present a verbal offer to your top two recruits in case your primary choice declines. There is no reason not to be transparent that with each candidate as to the situation.
To ensure communication is clear from the outset it is best practice to also have an Executive in the meeting, or if schedules do not permit to record the meeting to ensure the offer was presented accurately, in accordance with your policies and that any questions the recruit may have were handled fairly.
Step 6. First 90 Days
The first 90 days with a new hire are critical, your expectations of them need to be clear and communicated in a way that helps them completely understand what is required and how they can be successful in their new role.
It’s important to note here that while the first 90 days are critical, training is an ongoing investment and needs to be treated as a priority every day.
Training on every aspect of their job function is absolutely required and should be delivered both by their supervisor and their peers and should also include documentation for future review.
Your training program should start with the tools they will be using and the support processes they are to be following. This is the foundation of their day to day and must be followed without fail.
Client-specific knowledge (including communication practices and expectations) should be gained by reviewing documentation, support processes as well as past interaction recordings (if you have them). Each major process should be tested with mock scenarios, giving the new hire ample opportunity to ask questions and test their own understanding of what they are learning as they go.
Once the recruit has a handle on the job role, a period of time spent shadowing your top employees is essential to ensure the new hire is comfortable with all tools and processes as well as to understand how they should be communicating with clients and peers alike. The broader the exposure you can give the recruit, the more empowered they will be to let their personality shine.
Constant check-ins from the Executive team to assess how well a new hire is fitting in and how well they are absorbing the training are important and also serve as an opportunity to ensure the training being delivered is on par with what the Executive team expects.
Given the Kolbe testing completed earlier on in the hiring process, you have an incredible opportunity to tailor your training delivery and testing to match what you know about their learning style.
Step 7. Ongoing Development + Growth
In our industry, it is critical for any team member to be able to adapt to change and continually obtain new skills and certifications. Employees who embrace this as all but guaranteed to be successful with your company, and if you treat them right and focus on what drives them – long-term, loyal members of your core team.
To make sure your ongoing development plan matches both the needs of each of your team members, as well as your corporate requirements – we suggest segmenting each plan into three major categories:
- Current Subject Matter Expertise
- Knowledge requirements to meet Corporate Goals and Objectives
- Individual Education Opportunities
At GMS our technical staff (whom we refer to as mentors) are the heart of our Support Services. When new skills are required or updates to tools and technologies are needed, GMS takes a strategic and tactical approach towards managing continuing educations.
To ensure each team member has the right mix of training to both attain their own personal goals and to satisfy company goals, we further segment our training categories with the following use cases:
- New Skilling: We all need to learn new skills constantly. It should be understood that a portion of your team’s time needs to be spent acquiring new skills. Company time should be devoted to this effort to make this part of your culture.
- Up-Skilling: Each team member should have or be working towards a specialization in a certain subject matter. This is a big part of their personal development plan, and just like new skilling company time (or production time) should be invested to continuously improve their knowledge of the selected subject matter.
- Re-Skilling: Because of the breadth of knowledge required by technical team members in our industry a constant effort is required to ensure your team members stay up to date with the core technologies required both within your support stack and within your clients’ environments. Re-skilling can take place in the form of a chosen subject matter expert who updates their training, then retrains their peers – or group re-skilling efforts in the form of online learning, seminars etc.
Step 8. Retention Planning
At GMS we’ve been fortunate enough to have fostered a culture of life-long learners. And more importantly, learners who have a passion to teach others what they know. It has taken a considerable investment of time and money but has yielded and continues to yield incredible results.
Here’s how you can do this too:
- Make accessing training and accreditation a frictionless process.
- Clearly communicate your expectations on continuing education and how this will benefit both the company and each team member individually as well.
- Make ongoing training and accreditation something to be proud of amongst your team.
- Don’t make training a once a year or ad hoc focus… make it a constant part of your team evaluations and planning process.
- On the job training is a daily occurrence, and each day offers your team the opportunity to enrich their skills and the skills of their peers and direct reports.
The GMS skills development program along with our diverse corporate culture combine to create a high level of employee satisfaction. In fact, GMS boasts one of the highest full-time employee retention rates in the industry at 95%. We strive to measure, improve and understand employee engagement every step of the way. Our workforce is under several corporate microscopes every day. Our performance and skills are tested daily, often hour by hour. GMS strives to align their leadership abilities to ensure employee engagement is optimized.
Our hope is that by sharing some of the methodologies and processes what we have learned and honed over the years will inspire you and your team to take another look at your hiring processes as you continue to hire top-notch team members that drive top-line revenue growth within your business.
About GMS Live Expert
GMS Live Expert is an Outsourced Help Desk & NOC designed specifically to help Managed Service Providers augment the capabilities and availability of your existing team. Click here for a 3-minute overview video.
- 24x7x365 Coverage
- 100% North American based + white labeled
- Phone, chat and email support
- 130+ team members, your account is assigned a ‘pod’ of 10 – 12 to build familiarity
- 500,000 (and growing) tickets supported each year
- HIPAA + GDPR + PCI Compliant
- Customizable coverage times – Business hours, after hours – you name it!
- Enterprise-grade NOC – available for full server management or on an ad hoc basis (patching, triage, projects).
- Flexible pricing models – per user, per server, per network and per workstation pricing designed to lower your total support costs.
- Aggressive SLA’s to protect your customers support experience
- Bi-directional ticket system integration.
- RMM agnostic – we work with all tools!
- Documentation sync facilitated through IT Glue.
- Support available in both English and French – Spanish coming soon.