Starting with staff

By: Fiona Clark

If you have been in business for some time, think back to the beginning and you’ll probably remember the growing pains, the excitement, the worry, your first clients, and people who supported you from the beginning.

Businesses go through different stages of growth, and some things you will never forget – particularly the times you needed to dig deep and make things happen against all the odds.

There are many factors that help to create a successful business, and one of these is staff. In order to grow, you need help and expertise from people who are better than you at certain tasks. It can be a challenge to move from the start up phase, where you are doing everything, to employing your first staff member. Often cashflow can be an issue and it seems expensive to pay someone when you could do the task yourself. However, if you keep doing time consuming tasks, how will you find the time to grow your business?
Bringing in staff can transform your business, provided you get the right person. It is important to take the time to attract, interview, and hire someone who will add value to your business and be a good fit for the company. There is a saying that goes: ‘hire on character and train on skills’. So finding someone with the right personality, drive, commitment and motivation is a lot more important than how good they are at skills that can be taught.

The induction process for this new person is vital and sets the expectations from the beginning. When you’re busy, it can be tempting to only spend a day with a new staff member, show them once or twice how to do things, and then expect them to get on with it and function at the same level as you from then on. 

However, this approach only sets them up for failure and you for disappointment. Being organised and structured with induction training from day one is crucial if you want to set high standards and teach staff your way of doing business.

To do this, create a training plan for the first 2-4 weeks, with key tasks the new staff member will learn each day. Ensure you provide time for training, demonstrate the practical skills, supervise client interactions and make sure your systems are followed. Introduce the staff member to key suppliers, top clients, and key contacts they will need to build relationships with.

Provide the support to enable them to learn, have fun and be confident in their decision to work for you.

If you want high performing staff, then spend the time upfront and train them well. It is the best investment you can make for both of you.

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