Before you hire your first employee, you have to make sure your business is ready and you’ve got all the human resource and legal information under your belt so you know what you’re doing.
First of all you’ve got to look at where you are in the business and what you want to do in the short to medium term. If you’re doing everything yourself, you’ve got to ask ‘what am I good at and what is mission critical for me to continue doing in this business?’. That will show the gaps where you need new people coming into the business to take on those roles. You’ve got to have a very clear mission and job description for the new person – but not too rigid, because people have to be flexible in a small business!.
The next thing to think about is cultural fit. Obviously having the right expertise is important in a candidate and there may be essential skills or qualifications you need them to have. But, you can often give people the new knowledge they need to do a job quite quickly but if they’re not a cultural fit with your organisation it’s going to be an issue you might not be able to resolve.
When you interview people, you’ll need to ask questions about what they see in their future – short, medium and long term. Find out what’s important to them and what motivates them. We’re all motivated to some extent by financial concerns, but some people are more motivated by having flexibility or working from home. Make room for adequate training, or development or promotion. How is the person going to grow as the organisation grows and develops?
It’s important to remember that however cool a person appears in their interview or how good they are in terms of their qualifications or experience they haven’t worked in your organisation before. Don’t expect people to get going too quickly — it takes time to bring out expertise in people. But make it clear what you expect them to achieve; that’s a process of negotiation, to bring out the right skills in new people, particularly if the firm is growing.
Finally – when we’re busy and firefighting situations we can tend to give negative feedback, and it can be easy to forget that the person you’ve just employed is only hearing negative things- so it’s important to give positive feedback as well.