Have you tried hiring someone and it didn’t go well? Are you at the point where you think you need to hire somebody but afraid of messing it up or overwhelmed on pulling the trigger?
If so, you’re not alone. It’s a common spot to be in. I’ve talked with people that nearly went out of business after hiring their first employee because they didn’t approach it in the right way.
The common mistake seen time and time again is that entrepreneurs and managers don’t understand their teams’ systems well enough, then bring somebody into the chaos and try to explain it to them. It’s a recipe for disaster.
When I say systems, I’m using the word in a broad sense. I’m not talking about software, but a system is a collection of process steps you or your business use to get anything done. A system can be 100% manual and not involve any technology at all.
This collection of systems is how you and your team ultimately add value to your team, company, and customers.
Back to hiring – you want to hire someone because you’ve got more than you can do and think adding another person will add capacity and allow everyone to get more done. While this is true if you do it properly, if you don’t do it right you’re going to lose money, waste time, and impact the experience your customers are having, impacting your brand and future relationships.
So how do you hire the right way?
First, identify the areas of responsibility this person will have. For example, let’s say you want to hire a person to manage customer interactions. You break that out into “manage the Facebook page, manage the Instagram account, respond to email inquiries, and write a weekly blog for the customers.”
Each of these areas should be 1 thing! Break each out (so don’t say “manage social media” if that means Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and 10 others). We do this because the system for managing Instagram is potentially quite different than the system for managing Twitter or Facebook.
With these areas identified, identify the systems that exist in each area. Remember, a system is not just technology, but the way you get something done. Building on our example, we might have the systems of “weekly long post, daily meme post, review and respond to comments” as the 3 systems for “managing Facebook”.
Once you have these systems identified, start with one and start writing out the next level of details. This can be done in a Word/Google Docs file in narrative format. Number each step along the way.
Weekly Long Post
- Research topics for the post – look at new product releases, new functionality, trending news, Quora, and Reddit for inspiration
- Identify 3 post ideas and discuss with the team
- Pick one of the 3 and write a first draft
- Have the draft reviewed by the team
- Make edits into a final draft
- And so on…
When you write this narrative, keep a few things in mind –
- Think about how you would want someone else to do the process. If you normally write the post and the intent is to hire someone else to write it, you might want a review of the post before it goes live that doesn’t exist today.
- Estimate the amount of time needed for each step. This will allow you to total up the amount of work your new hire will be doing and help you set expectations with them for their work.
- Even if you don’t plan on having other people do the work, it’s still good to document the system. Seeing it written out will help you spot inefficiencies and is useful to communicate what’s being done.
- Look for steps you can remove. For each step, ask yourself how it’s adding value to the outputs of your system. For example, if you have 5 reviews as part of your posting system, are you really getting value out of having 5 reviews? Could you do 2 or 3 instead?
- Look for steps you could automate. Do you really need a person to manually post to 7 different social media accounts or could you use a tool to do it, reducing the amount of time it takes.
- Look for steps or systems you could outsource. Instead of hiring a person, can you find a 3rd party that can handle some or all of the tasks? For example, you could outsource initial contacts with your team to a 3rd party that charges you a small fee per response. This could end up being cheaper, and is always easier to “cancel” as opposed to getting rid of an employee.
- If other people are involved in doing steps in the system, have them tell you what they do. Do not assume you know or that they are doing it the way you told them to do it a year ago.
Rinse and repeat this process for each of your systems. Once you have them all documented with time estimates, you can identify how much work you have to give to a new employee. You’ve also got training documentation that the new employee will be able to use as a guide on getting work done.
While there’s no exact recipe for guaranteeing a successful hire every time (always lots of variables when people are involved), taking these steps ahead of hiring will set you up for success and will make bringing on an employee much easier to handle.
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