Kelly McNelis | Crain's Seattle

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Kelly McNelis

Background:  

Founded by Kelly McNelis in 2011, Women For One is an online community where women from more than 50 countries share their stories of entrepreneurship, grief, relationships, recovery and more, with the goal of empowering one another. Storytellers have included everyone from the anonymous to Arianna Huffington.

The Mistake:

We’ve hired several people that haven’t worked out for us. They weren’t necessarily bad hires – more like incorrect hires, and it was probably because we were hiring out of need.

We saw that they had the experience, did one or two quick interviews, and brought them on. Instead of the position dictating what the person’s skills should be, it was kind of the other way around. But because we were kind of desperate, we just hired them and thought: “We’ll just try them out and see how they do.”

They ended up being mediocre at best, to the point where I was doing their job for them. I wasn’t expecting excellence anymore. Ultimately, we had to cut the cord.

If you want to hire someone for a specific job, have them do it first.

The Lesson:

Expect excellence. As soon as I decided I wanted this, I dove into some courses on how to hire, and began envisioning a person who could supplement our team in moving forward. When we started the hiring process up again, we had each candidate demonstrate their ability to do the job.

Which is another lesson I learned: If you want to hire someone for a specific job, have them do it first. That’s how we found the best hire we’ve ever had: We had her create a website, upload a blog, do a video, speak to why she wanted to work for us, and what she thought our values were all about.

It took us almost a year to find her, and we made her go through so many hoops. But since we hired her eight months ago, we’ve found her to be such a solid team member. My business has just completely exploded and expanded in such a positive way.

I go so much more slowly when I hire now. I really look into referrals, and I’ve learned to trust my gut. Even when I feel the tiniest “no,” 98 percent of the time, it’s for a reason. Great business leaders trust that feeling.

Follow Kelly McNelis on Twitter at: @kelmcn

Follow Women For One on Twitter at: @womenforone

Pictured: Kelly McNelis | Photo courtesy of Women For One

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