Managing and Hiring People In Your Business
Next to serving Customers, hiring and managing employees is the next most important activity you will do in your business. With the right employees, you can make your business be everything you want it to be and more.
Knowing who or even how to hire and manage employees can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before. It’s not really taught in schools, and unless you’ve managed a team in the corporate world, you don’t get other opportunities to learn how to do it well. Even in the corporate space, it’s often done incorrectly.
The good news is, with a few mental models and systems in place, you can make hiring and managing employees a rewarding experience that gives your business what it needs at the time it needs it.
There are four components to consider in a well-rounded people management plan: Hire, Rewire, Inspire, and Retire. Let’s take these one at a time.
It sounds like it should be pretty simple, but there’s a lot that goes into hiring the right employee. The thing about hiring is that most of the work involved in doing it comes well before the act of making the offer.
To start the planning, first look at the work that’s happening today in your business. Spend a little bit of time looking at the efficiency of what you’re doing and look to eliminate, consolidate, or automate the things that you’re already doing.
This might allow you to avoid needing to hire altogether.
One of the best ways to do that is with a time study. You can do this as a solo entrepreneur or with a team.
The time study is going to do a couple of things for you.
First, it’s going to show you where you are wasting time and being inefficient. By working to improve your efficiency, you will be able to eliminate work in your business that’s not adding value, reducing your need for hiring new employees while maintaining your effectiveness.
Another thing the time study will do for you is to help you catalog the work that’s happening in your business. If you’ve done the efficiency work and still see the need to hire, you now have a list of work you can pick from that this new employee is going to take on and you understand how much time your business is currently spending on these activities.
With this list, you can then create a list of duties this employee will have along with a list of skills needed to actually perform the work. This information will then be used to create the job description you’ll use to market your open position.
Once you have the job description and answers to anticipated questions (like how many hours a week is this job?) you can start your search. Depending on where you are and what you’re hiring for, there are different options including job search sites, social media, and current employees (either as hires for this new job or referrals).
Before you actually bring somebody in to interview, you’ll want to define the questions you want them to answer and you should have planned out an interview process that they will go through. How many interviews are you going to do with them? Which people from your business are going to be involved in the process? What is the follow-up going to look like at each step?
Think through this from the perspective of your needs as a business owner as well as the potential candidates that will go through your interview process. Make sure you’re giving them a good experience!
You’ll also want to make sure you have some technology in place to keep track of the people that apply and the ones that you interview. This could be as simple as a spreadsheet if you are just starting to hire or don’t do very much hiring. If you’re hiring regularly and have your hiring processes well defined, you’ll want to consider investing in an ATS (applicant tracking system) that’s designed to help you hire more effectively and efficiently.
Once you’ve got a new employee on board, you’ve now got to teach them how your company does business. This is a much bigger effort than just teaching them the ins and outs of the position that you’ve hired them for, and something often overlooked, especially by those that are new to hiring.
Again, think from the perspective of the new employee you just hired. They haven’t worked at your business before. They don’t know what you like and don’t like. They don’t know your expectations and it’s quite likely that any place they’ve worked previously had different standards than you do.
How do you like to communicate?
How do you like to learn about problems in your business?
What are your expectations around getting the work done vs. being available to work?
What quirks exist in your business that don’t exist in other businesses they’ve worked for?
How do you treat Customers compared to other places they’ve worked?
The reality is that on a certain level, every business is unique just as one person is unique to the next. This is something that will take time (and effort) for a new employee to learn and as the employer, you should help facilitate that process.
Here’s an example.
Amazon is regarded as a very Customer-centric business. Everything they do is taken with a “Customer Experience First” approach.
Spirit Airlines is on the other end of the spectrum. They are regularly towards the bottom of Customer satisfaction surveys and focus on providing cheap travel options over anything else.
If an employee from Spirit Airlines took a job at Amazon, they would have to be retrained on perspectives on Customer service and related beliefs and perspectives. The reverse would be true as well.
This training goes above and beyond the technical training needed specific to how the job needs to be done.
Similarly, new employees to your business are going to need training above and beyond the technical specifics of their job responsibilities.
You should have one or more documents that detail the culture that makes up your business and covers these elements that aren’t widely known to outsiders. A review of these documents should be included with your onboarding plan for your new employee.
A few months down the road (and potentially every few months after that for 18-24 months) you can gather feedback from your employee on “things they wish they knew” when they started and update any training material you have related to this rewire phase.
Inspire comes in two flavors. There is the inspiring you do as a leader to those that you directly supervise. There is also the inspiring you do to train other employees in your organization to be leaders.
First, you need to have the mental models and tools to inspire those that you directly manage. When your business is small, this will be everyone, but even as your business grows and you hire other managers, you will still have employees that are reporting to you.
You need to be able to inspire these employees at least to the level of giving your business what it needs for success. This is time-consuming, hard work to do properly.
Every employee in your business is a unique individual. They require different things. They learn in different ways. They have different motivations. To be an effective leader and inspire the people you manage, you must understand them on a personal level.
One mistake I see all too often is that a manager treats all of their employees the same way. This rarely works well and doesn’t work at all if you have a diverse team. You must learn about each individual and adjust your approach with each employee to give them the best experience possible.
If you are at the point of having other managers in your business (or when you get there in the future), you’ll also need the other slide of Inspire which is how you train your leaders to manage the people they are responsible for.
You need to proactively teach them how you want them to manage others. You need to ensure they are instilling the values that you want to be instilled in your employees. You need to show them how you want your employees treated.
Similar to the rewire point that every business is different, the same applies to Inspire as well. If you’re bringing in a manager from a different organization, don’t assume they know YOUR style of leadership or what expectations you have of them as a leader. Their last employer was not like you and your new manager will need some time and coaching to figure that out.
Retire comes in many flavors. The way to sum it up is with the question, “how do you handle people leaving your business?”
There are many reasons people will leave your business. They might get a better job offer somewhere else and want to move on.
They might have performance issues that they are unable or unwilling to correct.
They might actually retire and be done working.
While this isn’t a problem you need to solve on day one of having employees, you need to have systems in place before someone leaves to properly handle departures.
You’ll need a process for managing poor work. Depending on your state or country, the requirements here vary, so you’ll want to consult with an HR professional to understand any local requirements.
No matter the requirements, you’ll need a system to track problems with employees and an escalation path that would eventually end in termination of the employment agreement, should the employee be unwilling or unable to improve. While this should rarely be your first choice in dealing with a problematic employee, there are many potential legal pitfalls here and it’s good to have them sorted ahead of time.
If you’re at the point you have several employees, you want to start thinking about a succession plan for the employees that you have, especially for critical positions in your business. For example, if you have managers that are responsible for their own teams, you should have a plan for each one specific to what you’d do if that person left the business. Is there someone on their team that could get promoted? If not, is there someone that could get some training or additional practice/experience and be good enough?
You don’t need to try and build different systems for every single reason an employee might leave, but you should at least have one system you’ve put thought into on how you’ll handle employee departures.
To Sum Up
Hiring and managing people will be one of the most important things you do as a business owner. With a little preparation, you can do it well even if you’ve never done it before. If you don’t prepare, this will be a source of ongoing frustration and could eventually lead to your business shutting down.
There are four areas to consider when managing people
Hire – how do you bring people into your business?
Rewire – how do you teach new people the “way” of your business? (not just the technical how-to)
Inspire – two parts
How do you motivate the people working directly for you?
How do you teach other managers in your business to be the managers and leaders you want them to be?
Retire – how do you deal with employees leaving your business? (actually retiring, finding a better job, getting fired, etc.)
Spend some time answering these questions and you’ll be better prepared to deal with managing people in your business.
I do work one on one with businesses to help them with all manner of organizational structure and team building. If you think this is right for your business, start by booking a 15 minute call for $95 with me and we’ll start the journey together.
On this initial call, we’ll cover your goals for hiring and come up with a plan on how we can work together to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. You’ll end up with some short term actions you can take and, if applicable, a long term option (at an additional cost) to work together to achieve your goals.
If you have any questions, reach out to me on your social platform of choice or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.