If you’re running your own business – be it a small business, a freelance business, or anything you’ve started and built from the ground-up – one of the scariest things can be hiring new people to help you with the volume of work that comes in as your business grows.

Don’t get me wrong: I think some of this can also come whenever you’re hiring for an internal team or some other scenarios I’m not considering, but this is all in the context of my experience.

It’s one thing to know when to hire, but it’s another thing to know who to hire, and then how to bring a person on board to begin working on projects once they are contracted to do so.

Hiring New People

First, I know that each company is different:

  • some places hire you as an employee with full benefits and have certain projects already ready,
  • some places offer a type of probationary period where the employer can see if the employee fits with the culture or vice versa,
  • some places bring new employees on and then have them work on bugs for existing projects, perhaps internal software, perhaps not,
  • and some places hire people on a contract basis.

For me, I’ve opted to go with having people on a contract basis. There’s a reason for this, but it’s content for a different post.

Hiring New People: The Obligatory Stock Image

Hiring New People: The Obligatory Stock Image. Oozing with “no.”

The point that I’m working towards, though, is what to do with a new hire once they are on board (regardless of if they are an employee or a contractor) and how you begin to trust these individuals.

1. Know Where To Look

Before bringing someone onboard, it’s important to know what you’re looking for in adding a person to the team.

  • What’s the level of skill that you require?
  • Do you want to handhold them through the processes that you have in place?
  • How much control do they have when working with project management or clients?
  • And so on.

When you know what you’re looking for, it helps to narrow down the pool of people from which you choose to look for said person.

2. Trust First

I’ve had trust being dolled out in two ways:

  1. “I trust you until you give me a reason not to do so,”
  2. “I don’t trust you until you’ve earned it.”

Whatever option you choose to take, make sure that you have good reasons for that particular path and that the person understands it.

I operation off of the first one option and I’ve found it to be far more relieving than taxing when working with others, and it helps to instill confidence and freedom with all parties involved.

3. Listen To Them

Depending on the person you bring on board, they may have more or different experience than you. In fact, they likely do have a different experience than you.

The tough thing is that if you’ve built a business that has a certain set of tools or procedures for how you develop, test, and then deploy your work, then you’re likely going to want to have the entire team use those tools.

And there’s something to be said for that.

On the flipside, if the person you’ve brought on board is using a different set of tools, then why not ask why they use those over another set of tools to see there’s not a further way to improve your process.

I don’t think it’s accurate to claim you want someone who is a team player but only plays by the rules you set. Sometimes players offer other strategies for the team.

My Experience

An obligatory shot of our Slack channel.

And an obligatory shot of our Slack channel.

With all of that said, here’s what I’ve found to be successful when having to add new people to a business – as scary as that is – while minimizing the fear that can come with it:

  1. There’s a level of skill that I expect such that I don’t have to do any handholding. The requirements for a project are presented, we chat about them and hammer out any questions, and then we – or they – get to work on the project.
  2. I trust the people with whom I work until I have a reason not to do so. It’s more work for all involved to have them earn trust, plus I wouldn’t want to be mistrusted, either. If I cared enough to join the team for work, I care enough to do the best I can.
  3. I try to listen and evaluate the input those with whom I work provide. Sometimes I change my mind about the processes I use. Other times, I do not. But that doesn’t mean I don’t hear them out and explain the rationale as to why I don’t want to change at this point in time.

And finally, I’m new to all of this. But as I’ve begun to share more about how I’m trying to grow Pressware, I’m sharing all of the things that I’m doing in hopes of not only garnering feedback but also providing a bit of help.

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Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. Hi Tom,

    Nicely put – glad that you’re growing Pressware, the process seems well thought so far.

    I’ve posted a 6K words guide a while ago on hiring and outsourcing, and the different models of work as we see them – http://devwp.eu/outsourcing-and-hiring-remote-talent/

    Other than that the contract basis sounds good, especially if you turn it into a legitimate trial through building different plugins or components that would not affect the bigger picture of a project. Communication and collaboration are essential, and even if a developer is proficient in what they do for a living, that doesn’t mean that they’re a good team player who can support the business needs.

    Happy to share some thoughts from our experience if you’d like, you know how to find me :)

    • Nicely put – glad that you’re growing Pressware, the process seems well thought so far.

      Thanks! I try — I’ve a plan for something I want to begin to implement in the back half of the year that will require some changes, but, as we’ve discussed, I’m taking this really slow.

      I’ve posted a 6K words guide a while ago on hiring and outsourcing…

      Yeah, I remember this post. It’s in Pocket and I refer to it a bit.

      Communication and collaboration are essential, and even if a developer is proficient in what they do for a living, that doesn’t mean that they’re a good team player who can support the business needs.

      That’s the tough part, I think, especially when it lends itself even more to having employees. But that’s coming later if things go well.

      Happy to share some thoughts from our experience if you’d like, you know how to find me :)

      Indeed I do and I’m sure we’ll chat more.

  2. Just what I was looking for. A terrific write-up Tom!

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