When you’re the sole employee of your small business, dress codes, absenteeism, and professionalism are not issues. Hiring that first employee brings on a raft of new things you need to consider, communicate, and regulate.
You can access a great deal of information on the internet, from your fellow entrepreneurs in your networking group, or a consultant, but the bottom line is you need to determine and then implement your own employee relations plan.
You should decide from the start how you want your employees to present your company to the public.
That means a dress code:
It also means setting expectations about attendance:
You could get lucky and the first person you hire will be the important right fit - but you can influence your luck with some careful hiring practices:
Hiring your first (and subsequent) employees is a big and exciting step. With a bit of thoughtfulness and planning you can minimize the stumbles and be off to a running start.
Despite your due diligence, your insightful interview, and your fair, firm and consistent counseling, your new hire is just not working out. As this becomes clear, it is important to look at the training you have provided and when the training occurred. Perhaps most importantly, do they have context for what they’re doing. It’s not enough that you just impart your expectations and expertise; make sure they understand why things are done a certain way.
It doesn't take long to become apparent that the employee is not –for whatever reason- managing to fit in. You should not linger in rectifying the problem, and, in fact, they may do it for you! Remember that your company culture is still being established, and this one employee is bending it in a direction you don't want. Unfortunately, no matter what you do, you will not change their basic personality. The more you invest yourself in trying to make a bad hire into a good one, the worse you will feel when the time comes to let them go. Out of fairness to the employees you already have and to the one you need to move along, take your time hiring, don't when you're firing.
When you fire an employee, give them the courtesy that you should extend to any human being. They deserve a face-to-face meeting. Nothing else works. The employee you fired will remember how they were treated and so will your remaining employees. Absolutely never ever fire someone over the internet.
Hopefully, you thought long and hard before scheduling the termination meeting. You have your reasons if you choose to provide them, and a coworker on hand to support you. Your words should be straightforward. Being wishy-washy gains you nothing but grief if the employee believes he has one last chance to affect your decision. Have a termination letter ready to give them when they leave – but don’t just read it to them. Instead, tell the employee up front that you are terminating him. If you choose to, explain why, and then outline the steps of the termination.
After your meeting, the former employee should be escorted from your premises. All company property needs to be returned, and you should act quickly to cancel their email access. In the internet age, the termination will not stay confidential for long. Your former employee can say what they will regarding the termination, you, on the other hand cannot.
Are you required to pay off the terminated employee at the termination meeting? That is something you need to research in advance.
A final step when you terminate is looking carefully at the entire process of bringing on a new hire. The buck stops with you, and it is your responsibility to vet prospective employees.
Look back at the interviews:
Look back at your new hire orientation:
The new hire process provides many opportunities to reveal your company culture. You can never repeat the basics enough. Discuss your goals and how you plan to meet them. How do you treat your customers, your suppliers, and each other? Of course, talk is cheap. What will really make an impression is how you live out these things every day.
After being very critical with your new hire process, determine what could have been better and change it. Establish what works and do more of it. It is your responsibility to learn and do better. That's how you eliminate the dirty job of having to fire someone.