What to Do When You’re Hiring Your First Employee

Mary Hohn, Writer

Hiring your first employee is a big step for a small business owner, and one that benefits from some dedicated thought. Beyond the administrative and legal side of things, recruitment involves setting up your new hires so they succeed. By developing a clear onboarding plan, and anticipating what each individual needs, you can help build a team of employees that perform well and stick around.

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Establish your company culture

Company culture is the environment you create for you and your employees to work in. It includes everything from considerations around the physical setting, your company mission, its values and the way you go about achieving your goals. The earlier you can think about company culture in the early stages of starting a new business, the better — these formative times will make a mark on its future. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What are you trying to achieve as a business, and why?
  • How will you (and your team) get there?
  • What kind of people do you want to work with?
  • What do you think makes a positive and productive work environment?
  • What are the most important values you hold personally and professionally?
  • What have your best and worst experiences of work been?

Determine your management style

Rather than just going with the flow, great managers put thought and energy into working out a management style that empowers, inspires and leads their employees. You can look to your culture for guidance, as well as considering how your industry, the market, your personality style and the day to day demands of the business affect what effective management — management that helps employees do their job and the company make more money as a result — looks like.

Create an orientation plan

First impressions are lasting impressions. If you have a structured plan for your employee during the first week, they’re more likely to feel comfortable in their new environment and confident in you as their leader. Draft up a list of key information they need once they start, such as:

  • The main objective of their role
  • An outline of their responsibilities
  • How to use company systems, like point-of-sale software
  • A detailed list of your products and services
  • Your expectations for their performance and behaviour
  • What you expect them to achieve in a week, a month, three months and so on

Create opportunities for two-way feedback

Regular check-ins with your employees are crucial, especially when they’re new. During their onboarding, follow up on a regular basis to ensure they have what they need. Unanswered questions may lead to a lack of confidence. Long-term channels for communication should be created through regular formal check-ins. One way to make sure these are two-way is to ask your employee to email questions and concerns in advance, so that there’s an agenda for you both.

Invest in career growth opportunities

Ambitious employees want to build skills over time to grow their careers. Find out about their career goals to see if any training opportunities would be helpful, support them through professional development opportunities (either external or created by you), give them time off for personal development (where possible) and so on. If you’re seen to create these opportunities for your very first employees, they’ll recognise your investment in them and respond in-kind.

Give employees the resources they need

From day one, give your new hire access to the tools and software they need. From payment hardware that allows them to take payments wherever and however, to apps that help them track sales and customer feedback, equip your business with everything needed to help employees do their job well.

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Mary writes for Square, where she covers topics that affect business owners — from starting a business to growing a business — and the tools and technology that help them succeed.