When you’re an entrepreneur or a startup founder, hiring your first team member is vital for the success of your business. They will represent you and determine how smoothly your business will grow. That’s why I was extra careful and took my time to find the first person to join me in scaling my business.
Here are five things you should do before you hire your first employee:
1. Create A Delegation Plan
You need to assess the needs of your business and then identify the tasks that you want to delegate. This way, you’ll know exactly for which position you need to hire. This is a vital step when hiring your first employee so you direct your resources only into things that you really need. Think about all the tasks you do and group similar ones together. Based on this information, find out which tasks are the most time-consuming and then hire someone to handle those tasks.
After a thorough assessment of my needs, I realized that what I needed the most was someone who could produce content for my clients. Since I had to focus on other aspects of the business, such as operations and lead generation, I needed someone to help me with the time-consuming task of creating content.
It can be challenging to properly carry out task delegation if you’re doing it for the first time. Clearly lay out all the responsibilities and expectations in a written format for your new employee’s reference. Make sure you are firm and direct in your communication, and don’t forget to double check whether they understand what is expected of them.
2. Manage Your Expectations About Their Capacity To Perform
You should remember that the employee won’t start performing to their full capacity on their first day of work. They need time to get used to the demands and processes of your business. Even if they have the skills to carry out the task, they will need a few days to adapt them based on the specific needs of your business. Prepare to invest your time and money into training and guiding them so they can eventually become a valuable asset for you.
In my case, I started training my first employee by laying out all of the requirements for a certain task in written format, giving them the freedom to clarify any doubts with me. After they completed it, I reviewed their performance and then gave them feedback as well as suggestions for improvements. I repeated these steps for a couple of weeks until the employee perfected the process, after which I gradually increased their workload. This whole process took a little over a month.
3. Develop A Plan For Holidays And Leave
You’ve been working on your own until now, so you could have easily managed your holidays and days off depending on your project timeline and workload. But now that you’re going to have an employee, you need to have a proper holiday calendar in place that is beneficial for both parties. You also will need to clearly establish the number of paid days off allowed.
This may seem like a small and basic step. However, it is often overlooked by entrepreneurs while scaling their business, because they’re so busy focusing on other aspects of their operation. I have to admit that I, too, made this mistake, and it resulted in operational delays for a couple of months.
Don’t forget that your employees are humans, too, and that they will require a break every once in a while. Consider nationwide official holidays and the official holidays in your state. Then create a viable holiday and paid leave plan before you look for your first employee.
4. Consider Their Long-Term Goals
When you hire someone, you’re making a long-term investment. You need to make sure that your first employee feels the same way about working with you. Otherwise, you could end up investing a lot of time and money into training the employee only for them to quit a few months later.
You should have a clear idea of your potential employee’s long-term goals before you decide to hire them. It’s not enough to just ask them about it. Consider their potential, but also look at their background to see how often they switch jobs and whether they seem to be going on a specific career path. This will give you a fair idea of whether the candidate is likely to stay and grow with you.
5. Develop An Effective Feedback Process
You already know the importance of having a trial run to make sure your new employee can deliver. However, they won’t know how or what to deliver unless you provide them with the necessary guidance. The initial training and briefing process isn’t always enough for this, so you’ll need to plan on providing ongoing feedback during the early stages of employment.
This feedback will help your employee understand what they need to improve or do differently. You should then observe their ability to implement this feedback to improve their performance. Try giving them informal feedback every couple of days in the beginning. For bigger assignments and projects, you could provide feedback after each one they complete. You could do this via private messages and emails or face-to-face meetings depending on what’s convenient. You can then have a more formal performance and feedback review session after their first week of joining, and then after the first month. This will necessarily require an in-person meeting, a Skype call (for remote offices) and/or a formal email detailing the feedback.
I try to be as specific as possible when providing feedback so that the employee has a clear understanding of my expectations. I also combine the feedback with a solution or suggestion to give them proper direction. Most importantly, I never resort to harshness or rudeness, because my goal is to improve the employee’s performance, not dissuade them from working with me.
Originally published at forbes.com.
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