As an entrepreneur, you’re accustomed to working long hours and on holidays and weekends. When was the last time you went to your dentist? When was the last time you had an uninterrupted night out with your partner?
Regardless of how you would choose to spend it, hiring help can net you some much-needed — and hard-earned — free time. Here are some tips to staff up your company. In addition, make sure to read the .
1. Don’t expect to hire a replica of you. Each person you meet and interview will be a living, breathing human, with their own habits, mannerisms, and ideas. This is fine — as long as their ideas and habits are not diametrically opposed to yours.
My first hire was 20 years my junior and relied on schedules to get things done. I, on the other hand, am more freewheeling. But she’s a perfect fit because she complements my way of working. Over time she’s grown into managing portions of my business that I neglected — like maintaining scheduling and billing.
2. Know exactly what the new hire will do. Working through your thoughts on hired help is essential. Before you advertise for help, sit down and write a job description. List your goals for the new hire: Do you want someone who can fill in on short notice when you need to take a day off, or do you want someone who can work a regular schedule? Do you want someone who can meet with clients, set their own schedule, and attend meetings and events on your behalf? Or do you simply need someone who can pick up your overflow? If you can clearly articulate the job to all applicants, they will have the opportunity to determine if the job is a fit. Concentrate on specific job-related descriptions, and not subjective information.
3. Determine what type of manager you are. Be honest about your work and management styles. If you say you want an independent thinker, but end up checking up on him or her constantly, you may end up with an unhappy helper. On the other hand, if you hire someone who needs lots of feedback, make sure to provide it.
4. Plan ahead. If you expect to hire someone by the middle of next month, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Finding the right person takes time. Plan to advertise, interview, and train until you find someone who is a great fit. And never pass up a great hire. If you find the right person, hire him or her right away.
5. Make sure your employee is covered. Ask your insurance carrier about your responsibility for insuring your team members.
6. Determine your time-off policy. Just like you, your team members will need time off, whether to recover from the flu or just to recharge. How will you handle these absences?
7. Create disciplinary and review processes. Eventually you will need to mete out consequences for poor performance or chronic absenteeism, or reward people for exemplary performance. The trick is having these policies in place before you need to use them.
Develop these policies before you bring on your first team member. Questions to address in this process include: How many emergency absences are acceptable in a given time period? How will you deal with customer complaints and concerns? How will you reward outstanding performance? How will you communicate with your team?
8. Conduct background checks. If an employee breaks the law while performing his or her duties for your company, you may be held liable. Conducting a background check can help determine if an applicant has a criminal history, and can help insulate you against possible lawsuits.
You can perform a search on the Web, ask your insurance provider, consult a lawyer, or contact your local police authorities for recommendations on companies to conduct this check for you. In each instance, you will need the applicant’s signature and understanding that you will have a third party conduct a background check as a condition of employment. See How Is a Background Check Different from Checking References? for more information.
9. Create an Applicant Fact Sheet. It should include the job description, expectations, and hiring process. Provide a copy to each applicant.
10. Create a training program. Whether it’s a detailed manual or one-on-one training for a certain number of hours or days, make sure you have a written training policy. Your training program should include all aspects of the job you expect your new hire to complete. Many misunderstandings and frustrations occur simply because a new hire did not understand the boss’s expectations.
Following these tips will place you well on your way to a happy and productive working relationship with your new help.
Peggie Arvidson-Dailey is the author of “How to be a Client Attraction Guru” and the owner of Peggie’s Pet Services, LLC.