Entrepreneurial teams -- if they’ve done their jobs well -- will eventually need to start hiring a team. This period of initial expansion is full of growing pains, and there are some common pitfalls that young companies face when hiring their first employees.
If your business is ready to take on new team members, here are those pitfalls to avoid, to increase your rate of hiring success:
1. Don’t: Hire before you know what you’re hiring for.
Many entrepreneurial teams want to speed up the hiring process. But hasty hiring leads to a host of problems, not the least of which is hiring for the wrong jobs. You may think that you need an account manager, for example, but once a hire is settled into the position, this person may realize he or she is actually functioning as a customer service manager. And that would be a job requiring significantly different skills and expertise than what this person was hired to do.
Always take the time to develop clear and thorough job descriptions that are outcome-focused rather than task-focused, to ensure that the skills of new hires are properly aligned with their responsibilities.
2. Don’t: Arbitrarily create compensation packages.
Before posting a single job opening, get out into the market and learn what each job title is commanding in terms of salary and benefits. Take the time to research the salary range once you have a good job description. Salary information can be obtained from other job postings and/or salary calculators. You can also reach out to LinkedIn groups or HR reps at local networking events and/or professional meetings to get additional data points.
3. Don’t: Overinflate titles.
Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of inflating job titles. Sometimes this is an effort to compensate for a lower salary. Other times, it simply reflects a lack of understanding of the job itself. Calling a receptionist a "director of customer service" or granting a new graduate the title of "marketing director" benefits no one. It may help sweeten an offer of employment, but at some point, that employee is going to want to be paid at the level of his or her title.
4. Don’t: Leave new hires hanging.
An entrepreneurial team is busy; there is no doubt about it. However, team members should never be too busy to onboard new employees. The first few months on the job can set the tone for an employee’s entire tenure.
Carve out time to train and acclimate new employees. Set regular meeting times and make them a priority. If you want new team members to take the ball and run with it, they’ve got to be comfortable with the plays you expect them to make. Communication with new team members is essential, and it’s every leader’s responsibility to provide this.
5. Don’t: Try To combine two jobs into one.
When a company is in the early growth stages, everyone must wear a variety of hats. While this may be obvious to the leadership team, it’s not always so obvious to new hires. Try not to combine the responsibilities of two jobs into one. If this simply cannot be avoided, leadership must get together and prioritize responsibilities for each new hire. Which aspects of the job are primary? Which are secondary? Be clear about those priorities, and keep an eye on the situation to determine the right time to split the job into two separate positions.
The early stages of a business’ growth are exciting times. They are also busy times, and many entrepreneurs rush the hiring process. So, tap the brakes and take the time to approach hiring with a strategic eye, to ensure that the team members you hire today will facilitate further growth tomorrow. A rushed decision can be a costly mistake.