This is the Number One Mistake to Avoid After Hiring Your First Employee. Are You Guilty of It? Hiring the "best candidate for the job" won't necessarily cut it anymore.

By Alykhan Jetha

Key Takeaways

  • Many business owners believe in hiring people who are smarter than them.
  • This is a great idea, but all these efforts would go in vain if the new hire is left shooting in the dark.
  • Good habits take time, but starting strong sets you up for success in the long term.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a small business owner, you've been the driving force behind every aspect of your venture. But as your business gains momentum, the time inevitably arrives to expand your team and hire your first employee.

It's a universal experience I see many entrepreneurs going through in their early stages.

Making that first hire and building a team for the first time is a major milestone. Aside from taking some time to celebrate it, it's a crucial moment worth being intentional about. Hiring the "best candidate for the job" won't necessarily cut it; the responsibility goes far beyond selecting the right person.

There are so many articles on how to source and identify the "right" talent — but there are fewer resources on how to ensure that the "right employee" contributes in the ways you need them to in the first months of their tenure as employee number one.

In this article, I'll shed some light on the post-hiring phase with a specific focus on the biggest red flag founders should steer clear of during this phase.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs a CRM

The biggest red flag: A lack of proper systems to measure employee performance

Small business owners often overlook the importance of having robust systems and procedures for assessing employee performance and ensuring accountability.

Trust me when I say that it's a big deal. I've seen it firsthand. Not having clear accountability can hurt your company and its culture. Here's how:

  1. Divergent ideas: Many business owners believe in hiring people who are smarter than them. This is a great idea, especially regarding subject matter experts. However, all these efforts would go in vain if the new hire is left shooting in the dark. Studies show that about 85% of leaders don't define their team's focus, and employees lack clarity about their goals or KPIs. Without checkpoints, their own ideas might take over, drifting away from your goals. This divergence creates problems that are hard to realign.
  2. Substantial waste of resources (opportunity cost): Not having established systems to measure performance comes at a high cost, including wasted time, resources, and missed growth opportunities.
  3. Unaccomplished goals: A whopping 93% of employees aren't clear on their organization's objectives. This mismatch leads to unaccomplished goals and frustration among employees and leaders.

Related: 5 Tips for Effectively Onboarding and Training New Hires

Solution: Build a robust performance-tracking mechanism

The good news is that, as entrepreneurs, we can tackle head-on the potential ramifications caused by a lack of proper systems. While I may not have the "secret recipe," I've learned a few things along the way. Avoiding the pitfall requires a multi-step approach:

  1. Well-defined responsibilities: Clearly outline tasks and roles for each person. This ensures everyone knows what they're responsible for.
  2. Clearly laid out objectives: Set crystal-clear objectives for your new hire. Establishing tangible goals tied to specific success metrics can make the path forward much clearer for the new employees as they know what is expected and how success will be measured.
  3. Drafting the strategy: Once you have established clear objectives, allow the employee to work on a strategy to accomplish these goals. Together, review and refine the plan to address any potential gaps and establish measurable milestones for regular check-ins to track progress.
  4. Regular check-ins: Implement a check-in rhythm that makes feedback a part of everyday life. According to Gallup, 47% of workers receive infrequent feedback from managers. The regular check-in mechanism acts as "glue" for accountability by tracking progress, addressing issues, and keeping everyone's efforts aligned with primary strategic goals. Adjusting your mindset to one driven by giving feedback rather than just doing (or fixing) something yourself is a muscle we have to train. Thankfully, there are many tools to help you streamline your regular check-in process and make it as easy as possible. Perhaps I'm biased, but Daylite has been an effective tool for our managers to use. The Projects dashboard helps give our managers, whether they're managing a team of 1 or 10, a high-level overview and update about the tasks and projects in a single glance, setting the stage for check-ins.
  5. Create integration moments: Spend time with them - and make it fun. It could be a simple thing such as coffee together in the morning (virtual or physical). Use that 10-15 minutes to get "synced up" and align on priorities for the day while getting to know each other on a deeper level. Alternatively, consider a practice that many legendary business people have done in the past: break bread together (i.e., have lunch or dinner together). A meal without distractions creates time together and solidifies integration. At the start of building Marketcircle, we had dinner together (it was out of my house at the time).

Related: 7 Keys to Achieving a Balanced Recruitment Strategy

Start early, win big

I've heard so many business owners say, "I wish I started delegating earlier in the lifespan of my business."

Successful delegation, so that you can clear your plate as the business owner and focus on scaling the company, starts with establishing proper systems and structure with the very first employee you bring on board and extends as a practice to every employee you bring on after that.

Early implementation of these practices helps small business owners prevent detrimental habits (which definitely die hard) from forming. Good habits take time, but starting strong sets you up for success in the long term. Your future business will thank you for it.

With all these in mind, you're on track to build a winning team and make your business thrive.

Alykhan Jetha

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder of Marketcircle

Entrepreneur, bootstrapper, underdog. President & CEO, Marketcircle. 20+ years as a tech & software entrepreneur – and incredibly proud of what Marketcircle has achieved. But it started quite differently. Passionate about lean entrepreneurship & process-driven startup growth.

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