Sooner or later, your business will grow to the level where you alone can no longer get everything done. It is inevitable: to grow and stay on track with business demands, more help is required.
Hiring a firm’s first employee is a big change that is both positive and challenging. The new hire will not only take on part of the workload but will hopefully bring new skills and practices that weren’t previously available at the firm.
The goal is to train and set the new hire up to be as successful as possible.
How to Get Started Delegating Work to Your First Hire
1. Defining Responsibilities
Before seeking out resumes and beginning the interviewing process, it is important to make a list of the new employee’s required responsibilities. Make a list of all the tasks that the new employee will work on, including those that are recurrent and those that happen infrequently. Be sure to write them all down.
Try to make sense of where the tasks fit in the grand scheme of the business. It is ideal to organize them so that they include a complete range of responsibility, from beginning to end. The person will thus have ownership of the whole process. For instance, you may be interested in delegating bill payments as well as bank account reconciliations to the new hire. This area can all be grouped into purchasing and cash responsibilities; from there, it will be clear then that everything that falls into those areas can be delegated to the new employee.
Your new hire’s responsibilities may not be limited to accounting. As in any small operation, an employee will probably work in more than one area. Perhaps the new person will take over customer service and respond to requests from clients to ensure they are happy with the product or service they received. Include these additional tasks within the list of responsibilities for the new employee. Even with these additional tasks, I would suggest delegating an entire area where possible, such as customer service. The quality of work will be improved because there will be one person who is responsible for the process from beginning to end.
The areas of responsibility will provide a clear idea of the competencies and skills needed. Taking those into consideration, you can move forward with the interview process and hire the best candidate.
2. Setting Up Your First Hire for Success
Once you have found the ideal employee and have finished the onboarding process, it is time to delegate. The best way to delegate is to take the time to spell out everything that is included in the job description. This is where processes come in: You can organize the tasks and responsibilities you have documented as processes (see my blog posts How to Improve and Grow Your Business with Effective Processes and Peace of Mind: How Processes Can Ease a New Employee Transition for more information on processes). That means laying out the details of how often something needs to be done, what it involves, and how these tasks fit into the wider operations of the firm. The processes can then be set up in a calendar or as tasks in a software program. Setting up all the tasks may take more time in the beginning, but view it as a long-term investment. The employee will know what is expected, and you will minimize the probability of errors in the long-run.
Be sure to then go over all these steps in detail with the new hire. As you review everything, you can adjust processes to ensure they are complete and easy to understand. I also recommend monitoring and checking in with the new hire as he or she executes the processes to learn if the training was missing something. You can listen in as tasks are completed to ensure that the new employee is absorbing the firm’s culture and overall mission.
3. Delegating Your Tasks to Your First Hire
Delegating is probably one of the hardest things to do for a business owner. A mistake we all have made is turning over all the duties and never looking back. That is a recipe for disaster; no one, no matter how smart or experienced, will understand the particularities of the business and its context right off the bat.
Of course, the other extreme – micromanaging – isn’t healthy either. Your employee will not have a chance to blossom within the firm. Find a happy medium: believe in your employee but always make sure to check in that things are going well.
4. Reviewing Your New Hire’s Work
A new employee provides the firm with the opportunity to ensure a higher level of quality with a second set of eyes. Before, perhaps it was only you, and things went out as you sent them. With another person in the firm, you can implement extra levels of review and receive helpful feedback. A review process will also help you make sure your employee is delivering a consistent product and service.
To implement levels of review (see my post Get the Best Result Every Time with Multiple Levels of Review for more detail), take the list of deliverables you documented before. Then, set up a schedule of when you will review each one. If you are delegating the bookkeeping, for example, review the work product in detail. You may discover mistakes due to misunderstandings or lack of training. These can be corrected as you go along without sacrificing quality.
Depending on the strength of your new hire, you will be able to allow the employee to work more independently faster and do more high-level reviewing. However, you still need to keep reviewing work at a more general level even after training is completed. We are all humans, after all, and there will always be a mistake or two.
Start Delegating Today
It takes less time to delegate and review than to do all the work yourself — that is, in fact, the whole reason the new hire is there. Furthermore, you will be able to remove yourself from the day-to-day operating of the business. This will allow you to look at your business from a distance to question ways of doing things and improve methodology.
Passing on responsibilities you have nurtured can be very difficult to do, yet it is also one of the most rewarding. You and your new employee will be able to take your business to new heights and experience many successes together. You will also grow as a business owner as you trust your new employee and can responsibly turn over your baby to someone else.