Browsing articles in "Employees"
Apr 14, 2011

Small Business Q&A: Making Good Hiring Choices

In another Small Business Q&A post, we take a look at a common hiring question.

Q: I feel like my business can’t grow because I do not have enough people and I have to do everything. How do I make good hiring choices at this stage of my business?

A: Often, some of the most difficult situations come at this “maturing” stage of a business. That is, your business is growing up to really take on its own identity, and to survive, it needs to expand beyond you.

Hiring is tough, no one who has done it will argue with that. There are so many dynamics, from team building, to building a symbiotic arrangement of positions, to simply finding enough time to hire someone. After all, if you had all the time you needed to hire, you probably would not need anyone to help you. The key is to be smart with your time, and your goals, in order to achieve the long-term results you are after.

When I look at hiring, the first thing I think about is being clear about what I want. This may sound funny, in that, of course, you want someone to help you. However, at this stage of your business, your first few hires will probably be your hardest. Never again will you bring on staff members that have such a profound impact on your business, and on the way you interact with your business. Continue reading »

Apr 10, 2011

Small Business Q&A: Establishing an Internet Usage Policy

In this post we will look at a common question that I get regarding Internet access for employees (and how to manage it)

Q: My employees have Internet access at their desks. How do I establish rules for Internet use that will be effective?

A: We read articles about employee Internet usage all the time, and I do not know of a business owner who does not squirm at this topic a bit. Most business owners do not want to be policeman/policewomen over their staff’s Internet usage, but they also want to insure productivity levels that are in-line with company goals.

Since privacy issues can be a concern, what I have seen that is quite effective is giving new hires an Electronic Use Policy to sign upon hire. This way, each party knows what is OK and what isn’t. Often, egregious Internet usage starts small, and before anyone knows it, it has become a big problem. Continue reading »

Apr 6, 2011

Preparing to Hire Your First Employee

Some of the most common questions that I get from small business owners I work with have to do with hiring, especially hiring the first employee. From personal experience, I would have to say that this area is one of the more challenging and confusing for owners of growing businesses.

Entrepreneurs often have two particularly nasty habits. The first is that they finally breakdown and hire someone when they cannot stand to do a particular function anymore. For my business, this was customer service. Although I loved interacting with the customers, I found the stop/start on a dime nature of customer service work makes working on long-term strategic and planning projects very hard.
When faced with this scenario, entrepreneurs will often hire a fully qualified person to fill this roll, and then drop the function like a hot potato in the new hire’s lap. Being so relieved to never even have to use the words “customer service” together again, the entrepreneur will often ignore this function completely.

Inevitably, a real “out of sight, out of mind” mentality develops, and the new hire goes along his/her way to fulfill the function the best way they can. Unfortunately, without an appropriate level of management and oversight by the business owner, the new hire’s function can “go rogue”, losing the qualities the business owner worked hard to create. This scenario can also cause a lot of stress and strain on the new hire, since it feels like they are working without a net, and many/most people like some amount of structure and communicated expectation in their job function. Continue reading »

Mar 29, 2011

Hiring by Design (Rather than by Default)

As almost any business owner and they will tell you hiring is a thorny subject. After all, with so much at stake with a hiring decision, it is understandable that this process would create angst and confusion. Depending on your industry, it can take anywhere from 3-12 months to train an employee, and starting over after a bad hire not only resets that clock, but also means that all of the recruitment expenses must be paid again (and you take the morale hit of having to introduce another new person into your team).

It is important to note, though, that even though these expenses are considerable, it NEVER makes sense to prolong a firing decision when you know someone has to go. Damage to company morale, company performance, customer/vendor relationships, etc. can go FAR beyond the cost of cutting bait. The old saying of “hire slow and fire fast” might as well be permanently post-it-noted to your computer monitor.

The trap many employers fall into when hiring is feeling they have to hire someone RIGHT NOW! And, like any other large company expenditure, the first (and most important step) in this process is to simply know what you want. This may sound simple, but I have talked with so many business owners that have ended up hiring bad fits for their business, simply because they did not know exactly what they wanted. Also, the whole resume reviewing, interviewing, hiring process can be so deeply psychological, business owners will always benefit by designing exactly what they want in a new hire before the hiring process even starts. Hiring the best of a bad lot will never yield good results, and sticking to your guns to get what you want may be the most valuable hiring decision you can make. Continue reading »