Expanding from a scrappy solo operation to managing a team is a major inflection point for entrepreneurs. While exciting, hiring even just a few employees introduces substantial new complexities, risks, and costs. Founders hiring for the first time must educate themselves on recruiting, compensation, employment regulations, onboarding, training, and general HR oversight. Add these practices into your playbook as you make your first hires.
Write solid job descriptions
Rather than posting vague, generic listings, carefully outline the exact day-to-day responsibilities, required credentials, technical competencies, and soft skills needed for each role. Detailed descriptions signal professionalism and attract better candidates. They also inform compensation and evaluation criteria later on. Move beyond resume screening only and conduct extensive skills testing, multiple interviews, background checks, and personality evaluations for final contenders. Develop a standardized scoring system averaging input from future managers and colleagues. Just don’t allow urgency to override thorough vetting. Avoiding one bad hire offsets multiple lengthy searches.
Know compliance requirements
Ensure you comply fully with employment laws around pay equity, harassment policies, discrimination, disability accommodations, leave time, occupancy ratios, safety standards, etc. Require diverse interview panels and skills-based evaluations. Document procedures in an employee handbook. Seek HR guidance to avoid missteps. While tempting to lowball salaries and benefits when cash-strapped, this often leads to quick turnover or litigation. Benchmark comparable roles and local cost of living to offer fair rates.
Be clear on the entire compensation package base pay, variable pay, equity, benefits, retirement contributions, etc. Weigh tradeoffs like lower salary against more equity. Effective onboarding starts with setting up hardware, tools, accounts, and resources ahead of start dates so new hires dive in on day one. Provide hands-on training, thoughtful mentor assignment, and onboarding checklists. Introduce new employees to the culture, vision, systems, and team. Inspire them quickly to build engagement and trust.
Set clear expectations
Once oriented, provide staff with clearly written expectations, processes, quality standards, policies, and procedures to guide their work. Regular manager check-ins ensure they stay on track. Leave no room for ambiguity on responsibilities. Set challenging but attainable goals tied to growth and incentives. Commit to skills development, cross-training, and coaching beyond just initial orientation. Sponsor continuing education aligned to growth paths. A learning culture attracts ambitious team members. Training boosts capabilities organization-wide. Budget annually for these human capital investments. Employees can learn more about the company and its resources through news.
Implement a formal review process assessing employee output, achievement, collaboration, engagement, and areas for growth on a quarterly or biannual basis. Base evaluations and compensation decisions on tangible examples versus generalities. Tie rewards to measurable contributions. When problems inevitably arise with new hires, have processes for placing employees on performance improvement plans, providing additional mentoring, or administering appropriate discipline. HR guidance ensures you handle difficult situations legally and constructively. Avoid allowing toxicity or performance gaps to fester. While adding employees ramp up stress and demands for founders, it also marks a critical step toward scalable success. Make hiring and talent management strategic priorities from day one and continue raising the bar as your team grows. Investing in the right people generates immense returns.