How exactly did Slater Chartered Accountants find Tina Klevering, who we consider the BEST reception person in The Waikato? We won't fib. This is the story.
One of the most important roles in any firm is front of house. Finding the right fit for this job can be a challenge. Only yesterday I was talking with another NZ small business owner who agreed sourcing the right people is key to the happiness and overall success of any workplace.
So, when we rebranded and restructured a couple of years ago one of the most important questions we asked ourselves was how and where do we find a great reception person?
We understood this role was and is key to our success because chartered accountants don't sell one-off products to random customers. We sell repeat products and services to returning clients over many years.
In addition the reception position has evolved into a role requiring far more professionalism and technological proficiency than ever before. It's not just about making a coffee, that's for sure. The assumption that this is what it's about is outmoded and no longer justified. Rather, it's a pivotal position. Technological aptitude and an affinity with systems and process optimisation is an important part of this role. A high degree of adaptability is required, along with foresight and high emotional intelligence and the ability to read situations and people.
More progressive workplaces and small businesses in New Zealand understand today's Reception person also has to be a very motivated and proactive team member with an ability to contribute important feedback and insights. These invariably add to an improved workplace and firm performance. Tina had all these attributes but it took quite some time before we secured her. We knew the direction we were heading in as a modern firm. We knew we needed someone who could work with perfectionists and strong characters who love the challenge of work.
Yip, our front of house reception person had to be exceptional.
Restructure and change was the agenda and the drive to find the right Reception person was on!
It was a big challenge and we decided we wouldn't compromise our standards or what we needed and wanted. In the midst of the restructure/rebrand we often said to ourselves,"If we want to stay where we are as a firm, we don't make change. If we want to progress, we make the hard emotional decisions." It was an unwieldy time, with a staff replacement of 50%. The changes we demanded and drove were difficult for some and only the very best stayed.
We interviewed extensively for the Reception position for more than a year and even made a few errors of judgment along the way.
But we were certain if we just kept at it, we could and would find someone who could fit the bill and fill the position in the way we wanted and needed. All this was and is a part of the trials and tribulations of HR and small business. You have to be prepared to try and fail and get back up again. You have to be able to give certain scenarios a go, and if they don't work out, dust yourself off and keep going. Perseverance is essential. The right person for the job is out there somewhere, and if they're a good fit with your business or concern, you'll eventually source them. Yes, it can take time. But it is well worth it. Once you find them, with time they can grow into the role and own their position, and hopefully derive great personal job satisfaction. They become an intrinsic part of a productive and progressive team.
We also cemented what we wanted in writing. We made a very long list. This helped us clarify the essentials for the role and we discussed these at length.
He or she had to be:
- Very intelligent
- Confidential and ethical
- Punctual, efficient
- Friendly and cheerful
- Technically proficient and/or willing to learn our systems
- Able to move with us as we modernised
- Liked by our many and varied clients
- Great on the phone, email and great with our booking system
- Able to handle and maintain our extensive database
- Work in with a management trio
- Work in with the Slater Team
- Be proactive
- Able to teach and show others
- Be teachable
- Know when to come to the fore
- Know when to step back
- Great at typing
- Ok with words
- Able to juggle a 1000 things
The job adverts were posted over NZ. There were so many applications raining in from all over the North Island. Literally hundreds. We were inundated. Email after email and CV after CV came through to our inbox. Tina was already familiar to us, and on the last round of advertising she rang and spoke at length with us about her ideas and experience. She was motivated and proactive. Her manner was refreshing and articulate and grounded. Here was someone who might just have what it took!
After the final round of interviews we had a gut feeling. There was only one person who fulfilled all the qualities on our list:
Tina's now been with us over two years. The initial teething phase is over and she's well established as a remarkable professional who runs the front office and produces exceedingly high quality work for Slaters. She's a respected and valued member of the Slater team who owns her role and contributes with insights, ideas and solutions on a daily basis. Management and clients frequently remark she's the most competent reception person we've ever had. Everything runs smoothly. As Brett says, she's "the best in the 30 year history of the firm!"
It's gratifying when someone settles into a role so well.
From early on, Tina showed enormous aptitude for systems and processes and helped to redesign and improve the function and layout of our database which she now maintains beautifully. She also tackles many of the technical issues/details that bamboozle and frustrate the living daylights out of clients and even other team members and has quite a knack for making the difficult and maddeningly finicky look very streamlined, smooth and easy!
So a big shout out to Tina Klevering who's transformed the Reception and front of house area at Slater Chartered Accountants.
We really can't say it enough.
We know it. And we mean it...
She's simply the best!
Millie Slater is Marketing, Social Media and HR Manager at Slater Chartered Accountants. She's also a regular contributor to the Slater Blog. For more information visit http://www.slater.co.nz
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