Hiring your first assistant feels liberating and empowering. It gives you a sense of momentum and achievement through leadership. Done well and strategically, it can help increase your productivity and growth. Done to project an image of professionalism and success, or serve as a business-fashion accessory can be a costly tactic for your business. Everyone loves the trimmings of success, but the question is are you hiring to fuel the growth of your business or the growth of your ego?
Whether you're considering your first hire or your next, here are some considerations and guidelines to help you avoid the high costs of the vanity hire, and instead impress the masses with true wealth and discretionary time.
First things first. Keep your eye on the prize.
The point of building a team, outsourcing and delegation is to help you manage the growth of your business, pushing certain work off your plate to make room on your schedule for the most important things. This is important to keep top of mind, because most first time managers often end up simply shifting their time and effort originally spent on the work and spending that same time managing the new hire, be it a contractor or employee. The net effect of this is a decrease in production and productivity and an increase in costs. It may help you feel more important when you have a team to manage, but if the title and state of mind simply adds costs and slows you down, it's a bad business move. Managers who stay focused on achieving the primary objective with their new hires get much more out of them.
Before you hire, check to see if you properly set the table.
Before you rush to the job boards and interview room, how will you prepare for the new hire's position? Will you take the time to craft a thorough and explicit job description that accurately describes the scope of work, and specifies the regular tasks that need to be performed? Will your next team member know where their responsibilities start and most importantly stop? Are there systems of organization, communication, documentation and policy firmly put in place?
Taking the time to do this well, upfront and in advance can significantly cut back on the time you'd otherwise have to spend onboarding, training and managing someone. Just as there are many ways to set a table before your guests arrive, there are many ways to prepare for a new team member. You can take a red Solo cup approach and keep things spartan, or bring out the fine linens and silver for an elegant affair. It's important to choose the approach that best fits your business and circumstance, but generally, the greater care you take to prepare for that next hire, or the finer the table setting, the more enjoyable the experience.
Have you mentally prepared? Use the kid brother rule.
Having realistic expectations is a hallmark of a good manager and owner. Are you expecting Albert Einstein to walk up to your work and figure things out intuitively, or do you picture a kid brother, five years younger, less experienced and new to the work. If you prepare for the latter, you save yourself a lot of grief by taking greater care in preparation and communications. This can yield you better performance and stronger relationships.
Many entrepreneurs fail to remember just how much of the essential business information is stored only in their head versus what is documented and institutionalized as knowledge throughout their companies. Using the kid brother rule and mindset, you can ensure the right information is conveyed, in a way that is embraced and remembered.
Check your ego. Ask yourself if you're considering hiring this person to impress and influence others, or take important work off your plate?
This is easier said than done, as it requires courage and vulnerability to be brutally honest with ourselves, but it's essential for the entrepreneur. Are you hiring to delegate, impress or merely keep up with the trends at conferences? You may feel pressure to hire to meet business trends; because your competitors do, or others in the industry have. Remember this, there are far more foolish entrepreneurs likely to make a vanity hire, than those who operate strategically with discipline. And many will go out of business or change tact. These ego plays can give you an advantage if you avoid them, because a smart hire or a non-hire, provides more value than a vanity hire. Your resources are better spent fueling the true growth of your business instead of your ego.