7 Common Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Hiring Their First Employees

7 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Hiring Their First Employees

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you work hard to grow your business.

In the beginning, you likely put in long hours and do all (or most) of the work yourself.

Then, as your business grows, you look for help. This could be in the form of contractors or employees.

Eventually, even if you use freelancers, you likely start to look to hire someone to help you with the work.

The problem that many entrepreneurs face, though, is that they make mistakes when hiring. They need help, but in their decisions, they end up hurting themselves as well.

It doesn’t have to be that way (at least completely). There will always be learning through experience. But you can also learn from others’ mistakes to save yourself the trouble for at least some of them.

In this article, we discuss 7 mistakes entrepreneurs make (and leaders of all types, really) when hiring.

1. Not knowing who/what you need

Sometimes you know you need someone, so you start trying to hire, but you haven’t really thought through exactly who you need and what they need to be able to do.

You haven’t really thought through the role.

What role are you hoping for them to fill?

What tasks are you wanting them to take over?

Know this before you start hiring.

How can you decide what to hire first? Here are some things to consider:

  • What do you do well, and what do you not do well?
  • What tasks take up most of your time?
  • What is important that only you can do (and what isn’t)?
  • What tasks drain you and your energy?
  • What one thing, if someone took over, would be the biggest relief?

Think through these questions and see what aligns. If it’s something that only you can do, of course, you aren’t going to hire for that. Are there things that take up a lot of your time that you don’t do well?

Are there tasks that really drain you that aren’t part of what’s important only for you to do?

Those could be directions for what to hire for.

2. You hire too fast

Sometimes we are tired, overworked, stressed, and we just want to get someone in the seat to get started.

You are already busy, and taking the time to review resumes and interview people just adds to that.

Because of that, because we just want to fill a seat and get going, we sometimes hire too fast.

Be careful about that. Make sure to take the time to go through the process well. It’s better to take the time on the front end than take the time to deal with a bad hire later.

Even with taking your time, it can be a good idea to start off with a trial run (such as a probationary period).

Also Read: How To Effectively Handle An Underperforming Employee

3. You just “trust your gut” when hiring

You just “trust your gut” when hiring

Many times people think that their intuition on hiring is spot on. They think they can tell who is a good hire and who isn’t just by meeting them.

However, generally, despite what we think, that is not the case.

Just relying on how we feel about a face-to-face interview can cause us to make a poor decision.

Don’t just trust your gut or their responses. If possible, have them perform some kind of task. See what kind of work they have done.

Make sure to talk to their references – and then ask those references for who else you might talk to. This can give you a better picture of what that person is really like and if they would be a good fit.

You can also take them to an environment that is out of the office and see how they respond to people and others.

For example, if you go to a restaurant, how do they treat the hostess or waiter? Do they throw and leave trash on the ground?

You could even take them on a walk down the street. Sometimes people respond differently and are less guarded in unfamiliar situations.

4. You don’t set clear expectations for the job

Once you hire the person, you want them to get to work. Sometimes, however, we don’t set clear expectations of what exactly we want them to do.

What are the main tasks you want them to do? What does the outcome look like?

Make sure you are as clear and specific as you can be.

And, truth is, if this is your first hire, you may not exactly know – it may morph over time – and that’s okay. Just be as specific and clear as you can be, and let them know the situation and ask for their suggestions as well.

5. You abdicate responsibility

Sometimes when entrepreneurs hire someone new, they breathe a sigh of relief, completely let go of whatever tasks they gave to the new person, and they don’t look at it anymore.

They abdicate.

That’s dangerous – you don’t want to do it.

You aren’t doing the job anymore, that’s true, but you still want to take responsibility for the results. You want to check in with them, see how things are going, how you can support them, and if you are getting the results you are expecting.

This doesn’t mean you hover over them, but you do want to check in with them. Hiring and delegation is not abdication.

This is especially important if they handle your finances and books. If you never check and examine – you may get burned and not realize it till it’s too late.

6. You micromanage

Mistakes entrepreneurs make - You micromanage

On the flip side, instead of abdicating, your response may be micromanaging. You want to make sure they do it exactly the way you want, how you want it, and you hover over them to make sure they do it “right”.

This is ineffective and demotivating.

As we talked about earlier, you want to set clear expectations for the outcomes that you expect, offer whatever support they may need, then release them to get there in their own way.

What matters is not how they get there; what matters is the end result.

If they make a mistake, check to make sure your expectations were clear first and that you gave them the time, resources, and training they needed, and then make it a learning experience.

Mistakes are going to happen. It’s part of learning. Focus on learning, not punishing for mistakes.

Listen to Podcast: Episode 5: One of the Big Killers of Business

7. You expect them to have the same passion as you

As an entrepreneur, you likely are very passionate about your company. You love it. You eat and breathe it. It has special meaning to you. It’s yours.

Sometimes we expect our employees to have that same passion, but that’s a mistake.

They may love their job and love what they do and what the company is and does, but the chances of them having the same passion as you do are not high.

To you, the business may be “everything”, but to your employees, it’s a job (though hopefully one they love). There’s a difference there.

Hire and begin them well

I hope this article helps you hire better and saves you from pain down the road.

Make sure to:

  • Know who/what you need
  • Take your time in hiring
  • Don’t just trust your gut – gather other information
  • Set clear expectations for the job
  • Stay aware of what employees are doing and their outcomes
  • Focus on the outcome, not the way they get there (don’t micromanage)
  • Realize they may not have the same passion as you do (and that’s okay)

Do you have any other helpful tips for other entrepreneurs who are hiring? Share in the comments below.

You can find more related articles here.


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