For many business owners and entrepreneurs, the first hire is the hardest leap to make. There are a number of fears that stem from uncertainty, loss of control, and loss of quality. Luckily, there’s a mitigation strategy for each of these concerns.
Outline and Follow Your Hiring Process. If you’re uncertain about how to bring on a first team member or get anxious because you’ve never hired anyone before, you are not alone. Hiring managers in large companies typically are given a structure they followed that was set in place by the company. They simply executed steps. Now that you are the one creating these processes it can feel paralyzing. To overcome this, you need to bite the bullet and create your own steps (and if you need help, LVL-Up is here for that). These steps, which eventually make up your process can be as simple or as detailed as you’d like them to be. Remember - you can always refine them over time! Your newly created hiring process will allow you to visualize where you are in the process of your end goal - hiring someone to grow your business!
Of course, after setting up your new process, you need to build up and keep your new team members accountable in performing what their duties are supposed to be. So you’ll need to….
Define Your Expectations. Loss of control in a business function is a real fear for business owners, especially those who are in their first few hires. This potential hire (who is faceless and nameless at this point) can give business owners this image of an employee twiddling her/his thumbs and dropping balls left and right, and eventually single-handedly ruining a business that has relied heavily on the owner’s reputation. You can mitigate the fear of loss of control by defining your expectations. At a minimum this includes creating a new hire’s position description so that a new team member can grow and be successful with you in expanding your business.
Again, having potentially never hired before, what stops business owners from taking this next step is not knowing what they need and want in a first hire - so write down what your business needs. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, Google “Position Description [insert position here]” and review some examples. In many cases, you may need to research and look at different examples if the position wears many hats. This first hire will not be perfect, s/he will not replace you - but rather they will allow the business to expand and should complement your skills. This is why position descriptions exist. They outline what is to be expected of a new staff member and what qualifications are needed for this position to be successful. These expectations should also include frequent (as in at least monthly) formal check-ins, during their first six months. This helps foster open communication and lays the foundation of a strong culture which sets up the quality of work that is produced by your team.
Encourage Open Communication to Create Your Company’s Culture. It’s hard to ensure quality work, especially from someone you barely know. You can plan to no end, yet still - that extra umph clients look for in your business are the soft skills that are hard to find. The good news is that you can train and build a company culture for this. You start by encouraging open communication. When you set the expectation of consistent formal check-ins, it’s important to also build in informal checks and communication - so that the feedback loop is shorter. Everyone thinks of the feedback loop as an external tool - find out what your ideal clients really want and make sure you are adjusting as a result. You can apply this same framework internally - find out what your staff’s knowledge gaps are and make sure you are teaching them accordingly. However, it’s difficult to do this when you don’t have a healthy open-communication culture - so starting building it from day one.
To close, it can be daunting to take those first steps of building a team. Begin thinking of yourself as a team leader. And if you find yourself stumbling, give us a call, we’re happy to help.