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.
An employee handbook is like the user manual to your company, it will help you and your employees see eye to eye on everything from how much vacation they get to what’s expected of them on the job.
Think about the culture you want to encourage in your company. Look at the size of your company to determine which federal laws affect you. Do you want to be able to terminate unsatisfactory employees in a timely manner? What benefits are you going to provide? Will you need a dress code?
Encouraging a friendly, ethical, and efficient work place for all employees starts with the owner and the Employee Handbook.
To begin; list the expectations you have regarding mutual respect, common courtesy, and consequences for insubordination. Unlawful discrimination or harassment can cause problems you don’t want and your employees should not have to deal with; you can handle this from the start by including wording that prohibits this behavior. Don’t be vague, if you are unsure about the wording, this might be the time to hire a consultant for input.
You should include:
The size of your company dictates the federal laws you are required to follow, and the laws should be included in your handbook. The following are some examples:
Once everyone has understood the new policies, draw a hard line as a business owner. Be firm that this handbook applies to everyone, period. The handbook being in place means no playing favorites. Everyone deserves equal treatment, but you’ll need to make sure of this for the policies within your handbook to be taken seriously by the rest of the team. You as the small business owner and your managers need to uphold the handbook to the highest extent, and that means playing by the rules you set.
Review your handbook at least once a year to make sure that your policies are in alignment with the company’s norms and with your state, local, and federal laws.
You reserve the right to change your policies at any time. When changes are made, your employees should receive an updated handbook or an addendum they can add to their existing book, and they must always sign and return a receipt for it.
Maintaining an Employee Handbook doesn’t need to be a daunting task, but if you are unsure, there is help out there. An Employee Handbook is a critical building block of your new company. It helps set the foundation for your future growth and success. Make sure you put your company on a firm foundation, and if you need help, EBR Consulting is here to make it easy and pain free.
Are you trying to decide whether to hire an employee or not? It’s a big step in owning a small business. Think about how much your time is worth. If you were offered $10.00 to stop what you are doing and sit in a dark room for an hour, would you do it? What about $100.00? $1,000.00? At some point we will cross the threshold of what your time is worth, where sitting in that dark room will profit you more.
Here are just a few reasons you should bite the bullet and hire an employee:
There are things you need consider when making the decision to hire someone:
After you’ve considered all of these things, you’ve interviewed candidates, you’ve done your due diligence and chosen a candidate…You give your candidate an offer letter and they accept.
Life is good, right? Yes, but you haven’t crossed the finish line yet.
Now you need to train your new hire. You can’t expect them to jump in feet first and be totally knowledgeable about your company, your customers, and how you like to do things.
This point is where your company culture really comes in to play. If you are casual - or appear to be casual - about returning calls to clients, your new hire will understand that customer service is not your priority. If your attitude toward your customers, suppliers, and others is less than respectful, it will be apparent and your new employee will eventually mirror your attitudes.
“Set the example,” “walk the talk,” and “begin as you mean to go on” are cliches for a reason. They work and will make you a better boss and your new hire a better employee.
Hiring your first employee should be a fun experience, highlighting your growing and maturing business. If you are unsure about how to take that first step, get some help. EBR Consulting is here to help you take those momentous steps with confidence.
You may think that because your small business currently has one employee - yourself- you don’t need to worry about something like company culture, but that’s exactly when you should start. “Begin as you mean to go on” is a good way to look at it.