When it comes to business, bigger is always better, or at least so I’ve been told. And there’s certainly nothing quite like the rush of scoring that new client, replete with ample funds and plentiful perks. Yet, as any entrepreneur knows, that fuzzy feeling lasts a sum total of about three minutes, as the reality of sudden growth becomes apparent.
Expansion would be a wonderful thing if you could simply extend the reach and capacity of the existing individuals of your team. You’d make more money, you’d all stand to benefit, and you’d only have to split the perks two or three ways (which is important when it comes to chocolate, let me tell you).
But sadly, this isn’t a feasible reality for a business owner, unless you’re willing to induce premature strokes across your workforce (which, let’s be honest, comes with its own set of obvious problems).
So you take the plunge, and make the decision to grow your staff contingent. Sounds easy enough in theory right? Out goes an ad, and in comes a wild flurry of qualified candidates, all eager and willing to take work off your exhausted hands? Surely? Yeah, not so much.
Instead, you’re now forced to juggle the demands of your growing client base with a series of woeful interviews with frankly unemployable individuals, most of whom insist on talking excessively and order multiple warm beverages on your account.
After extensive digging and many sleepless nights, a light finally breaks through the clouds of incompetence, proffering up a bright, driven and highly likable individual who promises you the world. Given the competition, you snap them up instantly, admittedly making yourself look a tad desperate, but seriously, who has the time (or the coffee budget) to waste?
Now the buzz is back. You’ve got the clients, you’ve got the hands. Life is looking pretty peachy around this point in time. Yet you soon come to realise that, whilst your sparkly new hire ticks all the boxes you asked for, they sadly do not have mind reading capabilities, nor the ability to instantly osmose years worth of information.
In real terms, this person is currently about as useful to you as a frontal lobotomy. They require constant minding, instruction, tutelage and reassurance, willing as they might be to get on with things. And for the A-type personality entrepreneur, this is a status quo that’s difficult to change.
There are one of two approaches one could opt for in this case. The first is to throw said individual right in the deep end, forcing them to sink or swim and learn rapidly on the job, be it from mistakes or success. And best you know it’ll definitely work.
That irresistible combination of pure terror and desperation to please is hard to beat when it comes to teaching life lessons. Of course, the flip side is the definite probability of egg on your face, as realistically no person can be expected to perfect anything right out the gate. Is it a risk you’re willing to take? After all, you haven’t hired this person just to go out and lose the client that got them hired in the first place.
The second approach is one that requires extreme patience and extensive time commitment, comprising regular teaching sessions and ‘brain dumps’, whereby you do your best to extract the various loose ends from your over-worked mind and inflict them upon the unsuspecting recipient. Of course, this means precious hours that aren’t billable, and a slow and steady learning curve that could only pay off many months down the line. So what’s a business owner to do?
Here are a few ways to save yourself time and money, and to equip your new hire with the tools to fend for themselves before the firing line:
- Divide and conquer: Remember, you don’t need to go it alone when it comes to up-skilling your new hire. In fact, your other employees are perhaps far better teachers than you, having more recently gone through the process themselves. So don’t be afraid to spread the teaching duties around – chances are it’ll result in a more rounded educational experience.
- Be bold: You hired this person, now you’re going to have to trust them. Now I’m not saying you should put them on your highest-paying client, pack them a lunchbox and wave them goodbye, but perhaps trial them out on one of your easier, more patient clients, and let them learn through trial and error. It might be a tad more stressful, but it’ll result in them being far more useful to you far sooner.
- Be patient: Think of a new hire as a long-term investment. Sure, they might cost you a bit in the short-term, but down the road, those extra hands are going to come in very handy indeed. So don’t expect the world immediately – it’s going to be a long, tough road, but it’ll be worth it in the end.