Craft Venture: who do you want to hire?

Hi everyone!  I’m glad you’re back for this weeks Craft Venture!  Im Brenda from Phydeaux Designs – back to continue our new series on hiring help.  This week, we’ll step back a bit to talk about WHO you want to hire, to make sure your employee(s) are as passionate and motivated as you are!

I’ve spent quite a bit of time this last week looking into the possibility of hiring a part-time helper, which doesn’t scare me at all – I’ve recruited for all sorts of positions during my management career.  I’ve developed a set of criteria over time that better ensures hiring super star performers, which I’ll be sharing with all of you.

If you’re responsible for hiring staff for your employer (so that you’re not solely responsible for your financial bottom line), it’s a little less daunting to make poor hiring decisions.  You may have a poor performer, but you still get paid, they still get paid, and many managers just work around their poor performers in order to not deal with them.

However, as a small business owner, you are likely existing with a very small profit margin.  A poor hiring decision could end up being disastrous, not only financially, but also emotionally and even legally.

The good news is that you don’t have to make poor hiring decisions!  You can learn how to make really great hiring decisions.  It does take work and time – I’ve regretted every single “I don’t have time to spend on this” hiring decision.  You can absolutely develop skill and confidence as you make increasingly better hires.

But before we start in on the business of recruiting great staff, let’s back up for a more philosophical discussion that – trust me – is essential to successful recruitment.  The three bottom line skills/attitudes/talents that you need for great employees are  self motivation, internal locus of control, and an ability and passion for continual learning.  All three factors are very nearly always present in super star employees!

I often hear supervisors and managers say, “I don’t want to hire a super star, because he/she is so fantastic that they’ll only stay in my position for a year or two.”  Yes, it is expensive to hire and train new staff, but I’ll take a star performer for one year, over a poor to mediocre performer for several years!

Here’s why:  a star adds value beyond anything you can imagine, while a non- or not quite star adds relatively little to no overall value.  The former is self motivated:  skilled at problem-solving, wants to do a great job for the sake of doing a great job (whether it’s sewing on buttons, filing paperwork or packaging orders).  The former believes that he or she is in control of his or her circumstances and/or destiny; rarely would the star performer say, “but that’s not my fault.”  The former is completely jazzed about learning new things; even while filing orders, stars find the order details fascinating and go home satisfied, having learned something new.

The non- to not quite star might not be reliable.  The work he or she does won’t be exceptional or even accurate.  They aren’t self correcting, requiring your time to find and correct their mistakes.  If you need a line worker to do piece work all day long, you might not need a super star, but you definitely need someone who works efficiently and effectively.  If you have to motivate that worker all day long and also have to correct his/her mistakes, that employee is not adding much value.

(I also know that folks worry about hiring someone who just wants to take their job over or take what they’ve learned to start their own business.  Both are legitimate concerns, but the rigorous recruitment process you’ll learn about should weed out most to all of those sorts of people.)

You may be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, but how the heck do you find self-motivated people with internal centers of control who also love (and are skilled) at learning???”  Via your entire recruitment process!  Yes, every single step of your recruitment process is an opportunity for stars to shine and non-stars to weed themselves out.  And we’ll talk about this in the coming posts!

A great way to think about star performers is by drawing a diagram.  Let’s draw a grid using two star qualities:  self motivation and skilled learner.

We have two axes for the above grid:  self motivation along the bottom and skilled learner along the side.  Each axis ranges from “low” to “high” in that particular area (e.g., low to high self-motivation, and low to high skilled learning).  The grid has four quadrants, marked a-d, with each quadrant corresponding to a category that we’re about to talk about.

(I wish I could remember where I first saw this sort of tool – it’s not my unique creation!  This is a tool that my former boss and I used in many capacities, because it’s simple to use while being very visual.  We’ll talk more about how to use it in upcoming posts.)

I highlighted in red those who are LOW in both learning ability and self motivation.  These folks are your “hiring mistakes.”  Avoid!

I highlighted in green those who are HIGH in learning ability and self motivation.  These are your “super stars!”  Hire!

You could stack your job applicants in each quadrant.  You’ll have folks are really low in self motivation, but midrange in learning ability.  You’ll have very strongly self motivated applicants who are midrange in learning ability, maybe even due to a learning disorder.  The grid system allows you to literally compare your candidates on an easy to use chart!”

Using this, you can visually see who not to hire (in the red “d” quadrant) and who to definitely consider hiring (in the green “a” category).  But what about those other two quadrants, “b” and “c?”

Let’s start with “c,” high self motivation but low on learning ability/skill.  If you have a job that doesn’t require doing things exactly the way you want them done (e.g., very little training involved), folks in this category might work out well for you, particularly if you’re just not finding stars.

Then “b,” low self motivation but high on learning ability/skill, is a category full of opportunity.  You’re not going to hire folks in “d,” you do want to hire folks in “a” and you might hire folks in “c” (but only if you don’t have “a” candidates).  Those in “b” are able learners, just not very motivated.  As learners, they may be able to move into the “star” category simply by learning to be self-motivated!  I wouldn’t recommend hire someone from this category, though, because you don’t have the time and resources to try to teach them to be self-motivated.

To recap:

This is a lot for one post – more next week!  For now, think about this grid and how it can help you with your recruitment efforts.  You might use similar tools already!  Also think about these three main factors:  self motivation, internal center (locus) of control and ability to learn.  Think about how these come into play for you as an indie business owner, as well as your family, friends and current employees!

I’d love to hear what you think about these concepts!  Are you already familiar with these?  If so, what’s your experience been?  Are these brand new to you?  I’m very happy to answer questions in the comments.  If you have a more sensitive/confidential question involving this, email me at brenda { at }

Image Credit: Raised Hands and Hire Me

5 comments | Click here to reply

This was very helpful — esp. the chart! I’m just curious…for those of you who have hired someone, where did you find them? Did you place an ad? Hired a friend?

If you have a longwinded answer, you can e-mail me! pokeyandpancakes AT gmail DOT com


Hi Phoebe!

Thanks for your comment – I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this! We’ll have a whole post in the next few weeks about where to find applicants, but I’ve always had the best luck using Craig’s List ( Hiring a friend can be tricky – which we’ll also talk about in an upcoming post – but sometimes is absolutely perfect.

Have a great week!



This is amazing! What detailed info. Thank you Brenda for this thoughtful series. There’s a lot to think about here. I’m not quite at this point yet, but I will be certain to reference this series in the future.


Thank you, Mia! I’m so glad you’ve found this useful!


[…] Phydeaux Designs – back to continue our new series on hiring help.  Last week, we talked about the three main characteristics you want your employees to have.  This week, we’re talking about what you can afford to pay an […]

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