I often meet people who tell me they have tried to hire employees and “people just don’t want to work.” Here’s the thing – being an employer is a skill like any other. If you try it once (when you are new and inexperienced at it) and then give up, it is a skill you will never master. Learning to set expectations, motivate people to do what you need done and provide both recognition and reprimands are just a few of the skills needed to be a great employer.
There is a reason there are hundreds of books on leadership and management – it isn’t an easy skill to learn. About the time you think you have it, you will hire someone new and will need to learn a new skill to help that person be a functioning member of your team.
Here are five pitfalls to avoid:
Lack of Clarity in Hiring. If you don’t clearly define the position you want to fill and the skills that the ideal person will have, you are unlikely to hire a person who fits your needs. Your neighbor, cousin, pastor, etc. will recommend someone and you’ll hire them without considering if they are the right person for you. Hiring someone is a long-term commitment. Just because they are recommended by a friend, doesn’t mean they are a right fit for your team.
Lack of Clarity in Onboarding. If you aren’t clear about what you need the person to do, then you are unlikely to be prepared to give them good orientation to the tasks you need done. Take accounting. Assume you find someone with fabulous QuickBooks skills. That doesn’t mean they can pick up the QuickBooks for your business without some training on how your business organizes data and what tasks are needed. Every employee should have 30-60-90 days goals that outline what you expect them to accomplish. This keeps both of you on task for getting those things done and is a metric for measuring their performance.
Failure to Provide Performance Feedback. A new employee needs to have scheduled times where you tell them how they are doing and help them fix things that aren’t going well. This is a good time to review their 30-60-90 day goals so you can give them feedback specific to what you told them you expected. There are two reasons this is important. First, they can’t fix something they don’t know is broken. Second, people want to feel they are successful. Without your input, they may reach the wrong conclusion.
Failure to Catch People Doing It Right. We all have a tendency to notice the things that are irritating or frustrating, while completely missing the little moments where someone is performing perfectly (or even nearly perfectly). If you want people to keep performing well, make it a point to catch them doing it right. They need specific feedback so they know what to keep doing. Saying “good job today” does nothing. Be specific. Everyone wants to be seen and noticed – give people attention for the things you like and you’ll see more of those things.
Assuming. As soon as the words “they should know” come out of your mouth, you are assuming that this person should know your standards and expectations without you having to say what they are. Unless you personally covered the specific situation with them yesterday, “they should know” is assuming. Everyone comes from different backgrounds with different frameworks of thinking. If a specific dress code is important, provide clear examples of what is and is not acceptable. If you want the phone answered a certain way, provide a script and enforce using it. In the long run, you’ll both be happier – you will have things the way you want them and your employee will not have to guess what you expect of them.
You may notice these things are related. Being clear about what you want and giving people timely and helpful feedback are the most critical skills for being a great employer.
Charlise Latour is a business coach and owner of Accelerate Your Success. She works with each client to determine what their goals are and create a plan so they can achieve them. She is actively involved in Dancing & Singing With the King, which raises money to promote dance education including working with local schools to offer dance classes during the school day. This is a natural fit as she is an avid ballroom dancer.