Your business has reached the point where it’s doing better than ever. Your customer base is growing, and you think that it’s time to bring someone else on board.
Hold on a second!
Are you sure you’re ready, really ready for an employee?
While it’s great that you’ve arrived at this point, hiring isn’t a simple matter of putting out an ad and then going with the first candidate that catches your eye. Instead, it’s a decision that’ll have serious implications; it can either be a tremendous benefit for your company, or a costly mistake.
While employees, when hired with the right foresight, can be a tremendous asset, and indeed are often a necessary part of a company’s ability to scale, it’s important to make sure you’re ready for everything that bringing a new hire on board entails.
It’s also vital to ensure that your company is at the point where bringing on an employee is something that will not just help to reduce your workload, but will increase your profits as well.
Maybe you are just considering bringing on your first employee, or perhaps you’ve been toying with this idea for some time.
Regardless of where you are at in the hiring process, here are a few things that no one tells you about hiring your first employee. Read on to be prepared; and to make sure your company is ready for an employee!
It’s Vital That You Have a Clear and Detailed Job Description
Sure, you’re a small business, so naturally, you just want someone to come in and help alleviate some of the workload. But as tempting as that might sound, having a job description this vague will only set your new hire up for failure.
It makes sense when you think about it. Without clearly defined duties and responsibilities, your new employee will have a hard time knowing exactly what’s required of them. They’ll also be far less likely to excel in their role, since they won’t have a defined role in which to excel in the first place!
Additionally, it’ll be hard for you to track their progress and achievements, since without a role; you won’t be able to assign benchmarks. Do yourself a favor and create a detailed job description, it’ll be worth it.
An Employee Won’t Fix What’s Broken
Hiring an employee won’t make all of your business’ problems go away. If anything, it will magnify them! You shouldn’t bring someone on in hopes of having them fix everything and cure all your business-related woes.
Instead, you should hire someone to fill a specific role, one that will add real value to your company.
Before you hire an employee, you need to get clear on the business itself, and make sure it’s working, not failing. In most cases, you should add employees with the intent of scaling your business, so try to make sure your company is operating as it should be, before you bring employees into the mix.
Create Systems First
While it may be tempting to hire someone first and work out the details later, this could be setting yourself up for disaster.
Before you start the hiring process, make sure you have a documented process for everything your new employee will be expected to do. This includes outlining how it should be done and when it should be done.
Creating a step-by-step procedure that you can give to your employee is the best way to go. Throwing an employee into a disorganized company with no procedures or policies is a recipe for disaster and could have devastating results.
Take Your Time Hiring
Being picky is generally frowned upon, but in the case of hiring a new employee, it pays to be selective!
It might seem like hiring is easy, with so many candidates to choose from. The truth though, is that there are a lot of candidates but likely very few that are ideal for the role. Being picky about the person that you hire can help you in the long run, allowing you to ensure that you hire someone who’s ideal for the position, and a great fit for your company.
Not All Candidates Are Equal
While they may all be applying for the same position and their resumes may have similar qualifications, it’s important to realize that not all candidates are the same. You will need to interview each of them individually, check their references carefully, and see what they can offer as an individual before you make your final decision.
Never hire straight off of a resume without an interview and always check references to make sure the info in the resume checks out. If possible, you may want to consider hiring on a trial basis. A 30-day trial run should be enough time to ensure that the candidate and the position are a good match.
Consider an Applicant’s Potential
In addition to looking at your applicants’ experience, it’s important to look at their potential too. What you really want, is an individual who works hard –and has a tremendous amount of motivation and drive.
Someone who has a genuine interest in your company will make an excellent employee, and in fact, often this matters more than qualifications alone. Training can be provided, but a sense of motivation and drive are far harder to instill. Seek out an individual that has a genuine interest in your business and what you do.
Your Employee Isn’t Your Friend
While there’s nothing wrong with being friendly, and in fact it’s advisable, it’s also important to avoid mixing work and personal relationships. Not only does it set a poor precedent, but later on, when you have more employees, it could also open the door to allegations of favoritism.
“In most cases, people don’t need (or want) their boss to be their bestie;” writes Brian Scudamore,
founder and CEO of O2E Brands, “They want a manager who supports their success and helps them reach their career goals.”
Make friends outside of your company, friends you don’t have to pay to shoot the breeze with! And try to keep your professional life, well, professional.
The Hiring Process Can be Time-Consuming
While you might think that hiring an employee will free you up to accomplish bigger and better tasks within your company, and that should be the long-term goal, the truth is, employees take a lot of time, especially in the beginning.
While they may be accomplishing their necessary tasks, you are still responsible for your company, and now you are responsible for ensuring your employee has enough to do as well. Not to mention all of the extra work that goes into keeping up with the rules and regulations that you’ll have to comply with as an employer.
Additionally, you are also still ultimately responsible for ensuring the tasks that you delegated are getting done on time, and to a high standard. While it is true, adding a new team member can relieve you of some duties, you will also want to be realistic in your assessment, and prepare yourself for the additional work this new team member will take.
Your Roll Changes
Before you have employees, it all comes down to you. If something needs to be done, you are the one to see it through to the end. When a problem arises, you know instantly that it’s your responsibility. While this can be overwhelming at times, it’s also a lot simpler.
Once you hire an employee to do these tasks, it might take some time to adjust to your new role. Instead of seeing things through from start to finish, your role will be assigning and delegating tasks, and ensuring that they get done.
Instead of managing tasks and deadlines, you will be managing employees. You will be taking on a new position within your company and it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for your new role.
Becoming a Boss Can Be Lonely
Something that no one tells you when you hire an employee is that you are going to be a party of one. You won’t have the company of coworkers to talk with and rely on. There will be no support system or safety net. It is just you. Although it can be tremendously rewarding, becoming a boss can also be a lonely position.
Being aware of this reality, though, allows you to take proactive steps to combat this. For instance, you can work to build a new support system and assemble a team to help support you, in different ways than before.
Hiring Can Be Overwhelming
Hiring an employee can be downright overwhelming, especially if it’s your first one. In many ways, taking on an employee is almost like starting a new company. There are many different things you will need to consider from payroll to taxes, time tracking, procedures, benchmarking, disciplinary actions, and more. Not to mention the process of hiring itself can be full of unique challenges as well.
Where do you advertise? How do you advertise? How do you interview? What do you look for in a candidate? Who do you hire? How do you vet a potential employee?
Hiring is a unique process, and going into it unprepared can quickly cause you to feel as though you’re in over your head. For this reason, it’s important to do your research up front, to make sure you’re fully aware of your responsibilities and obligations as an employer. This will allow you to navigate the process more easily, and with far less stress.
It’s also important to remember that you should avoid rushing the hiring process. Make sure you find the right employee, the most qualified applicant, and don’t just settle for the first resume that lands in your inbox.
You Will Face Challenges
Think back to your own prior work experience as an employee. Did you ever doubt your supervisor? Did you question the way things were being done?
Of course, you did, and you shouldn’t expect anything less from your employee! Know that they will question your methods, reasoning, and expectations too. This can be a double-edged sword.
In many ways, having someone to raise questions or challenge you can help you to think about the way that you’re doing things in a new light; and open up potential opportunities for you to improve outdated systems or inefficient methods.
On the other hand, though, it’s important to be able to hold your ground, and not let your new hire call all of the shots. Be open-minded, but don’t allow yourself to be pressured into doing something that you feel isn’t in the best interest of your company.
Being in a Position of Leadership Will Change You
Finally, it is important to realize that becoming a boss will change you. You are going to be put in a position of leadership, and for many, this may represent the first time this type of opportunity has arisen.
It’s important to enter your new role with the realization that you will be growing and changing, and that’s okay. You won’t have all of the answers, and you will make mistakes, and that is okay too.
Don’t pretend to know everything and don’t try to make everyone like you. Instead, know that being a leader is a difficult position for anyone. Instead of trying to be perfect, work on being a great leader and everything else will follow.
Don’t try to fight against change or growth, instead go into the position knowing that you will change, and change is good.
While hiring a new employee can be an exciting time, and represents a significant milestone for your company, going into the process informed and fully prepared will help you to know what to expect, and will give you a far greater chance of a successful transition.
What about you? Which aspects of hiring do you feel are often overlooked?
Eric Czerwonka is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Buddy Punch