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Dear Adecco: Small Business Owner Tips #1 – When to Hire Your First Staff

A small business owner opens her business

In the spirit of the immortal Dear Abby, we’re kicking off Dear Adecco: a series of articles filled with advice for any small business owner because we understand the complexities of managing employees at a smaller organization where the quarters are often very close. Although the exchanges are fake, they address very real concerns that many a small business owner or supervisor think about every day.

Hiring Your First Employees

Dear Adecco,

After years in the financial services industry, I recently struck out on my own. My finance and insurance startup is growing faster than I expected it to, and it’s time I started putting together a small team. I’ve spread the word among my network about several job openings, and I’ve posted them online – and so far, I’ve gotten a lot of responses. I think I’m doing a good job of whittling down the resumes I like based on professional appearance, succinctness, and whether the applicants have cited specific accomplishments in their past roles. I’m also confident that I can spot bogus claims, and know the kinds of questions to ask in an interview to be sure. What concerns me is trying to identify who will make the best combination of people. I know the interview process will give me a better idea of what everyone is like, but are there other things I’m forgetting about that I should look for?

Dear Would-Be Boss,

It just so happens that entrepreneurship is one of Adecco’s core values, so congratulations on becoming a small business owner! As for your concerns, you’re struggling with a problem most startups experience when they’re on their way to bigger and better things. First, remember not to take on more people than you have to; make sure that the tasks you need help with are ones you consistently need help with, and think carefully about the headcount that requires. Are there tasks you can easily outsource for less than it would cost you to hire your own employee? And with that said, it’s important to bear in mind that hiring new employees comes with a host of new legal, administrative, and financial obligations, from drafting contracts to payrolling to offering benefits – even terminating an unsatisfactory employee isn’t as cut and dry as you might think.

If after all that investigation you still feel you need to build a team of employees, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your team functions properly. These include delineating and clearly communicating role requirements and expectations, providing each member with the level of independence they need to feel trusted enough to do their jobs and innovate, and recognizing both achievements and setbacks in such a way that your employees feel proud when they should, learn from their mistakes when they should, and feel accountable for what they do all the time. Finally, come up with ways to foster emotional bonds between you and your team members. Whether it’s an occasional team lunch, paintball, or treetop trekking, such activities build camaraderie. And team members that care about each other go out of their way to see each other succeed.

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