As your small business grows, you may find that you can’t complete every single task yourself anymore. It’s time to hire your first employee!

But what if hiring your first employee also means it’s your first time managing direct reports? Being the boss might have been an anticipated perk of owning your own company, but if you’ve spent your career reporting to others, switching into “boss mode” can be tricky.

Here are a few tips for leading with confidence. 

Practice good interview techniques

When you’re anxious to hire your first employee, you might feel drawn to hire someone through a friend or family member’s recommendation. This person might be a good fit, but you should still complete a formal interview before making your decision.

Even if you know the person you’re interviewing for the job, keep the conversation to the job and the candidate’s qualifications for it. Avoid asking personal questions, but do make sure you describe the position and its requirements clearly.

Always check references, who might be former bosses, coworkers, or direct reports of that person. These colleagues can provide valuable insight into your candidate’s potential for the role you need to fill.

Make expectations clear

A job description can help you find the right employee, but you need an employee handbook to guide them through the day-to-day of their job.

Your handbook should clearly state your expectations of the employee, what any employee can expect from you, and the employee’s rights and responsibilities. Beyond policies for using technology, taking time off, or other common points of discussion, be sure to include your company’s harassment and discrimination policy, security policies, and behavior guidelines.

Not only does an employee handbook maintain policies across your company, but it also reduces the number of questions you’ll have to answer individually. Encourage your team to use the handbook as a resource, and to speak up if they see anything missing from this guide.

Set goals together

Want to keep your new employee happy? Discuss and set after they’ve settled into their role. What do they hope to get out of the position? What skills would they like to develop? What do they think is their (eventual) next career step?

By determining your employee’s mindset, you can help them take steps to reach their goals within your business. At the same time, you may find it appropriate to share some of your own goals for developing your skills or meeting company performance benchmarks.

Encourage communication

New managers should make a point to encourage communication through the initial stages of collaboration. Especially if you’ve been doing all the tasks in your business for quite some time, it can be hard to delegate — and hard to listen to feedback.

Be open to suggestions for completing tasks more efficiently, and understand that everyone has a different approach to completing their work.

Wondering if it’s time to hire your first employee? Start practicing your management skills by meeting with a SCORE mentor.

About the Author(s)

 Bridget  Weston

Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.

Get Ready to Be the Boss