As a solo you know what you want and you do it. Your business plan is most likely “work in progress”. So each day is made up of to do lists, tasks and just getting “stuff” done. You just keep going until some tells you that it is “beer or wine o’clock” and you are allowed to stop work. Which you know is only until after 9 o’clock tonight when you can sneak back and send off those couple of emails that you didn’t get to today.
So, your business is all in your head. Now you bring on an assistant. Whether that person is taking on, administrative, operational or business development tasks, the major issue is that you need to tell these people what you are thinking, so that WE as a team can operationalise it. I know that right now you are thinking. I am confident I can do that, but I can assure you that once you actually try to speak out loud all of this wonderful information that is in your head, it comes out a little worse than gibberish, and unfortunately for you, that really isn’t a language that they can get translated. You need to explain yourself in understandable, actionable English. Trust me, this is challenging. I recall in the early stages of having my first team member, I really wished, she could just listen to my head, understand it all and action it, just like I have been doing for a few years. I was of course, hoping that she had mind reading capabilities, and believe it or not, despite your best recruiting methods, mind reading is simply not a selection criterion you can avail yourself of.
So, perhaps some tips on communicating this gibberish into an intelligible context that your new employee can work with.
First, write it down – it probably won’t read very well in its first draft, but that is okay, its only reader will be you. This should be done at high level in bullet points. Think about what you need to communicate – your business, your vision, your clients, your background (this is important, I will explain later) and finish with the tasks that you want them to take over. Remember this is high level. Now leave it for a day or two.
Second, go back through your list and add the items that you realised you missed (at 3.00 a.m. this morning). Now elaborate on your dot points, start to place more detail into each section and be generous with the background section. It is important that your new employee knows about your background, where you came from, why you have your business, where you obtained your area of expertise. I forgot to do this and my first employee saw me guest speak and she said “wow, I didn’t know you knew that stuff, that is very impressive.” I asked her, how she thought I had my own business if I didn’t know what I was talking about. She said, there were a lot of people out there with businesses they knew nothing about. I realised she was absolutely correct, but this wasn’t the case for me. I actually knew my stuff, which when you work in the world of legislation and compliance that is a very essential element. Tell them your background, be specific, how many years of experience, places you have worked, give them as much detail as you can, because if they don’t buy you, they can’t sell you!!
Third, give it to someone else to edit, make notes and provide feedback. Your life partner or house mate is perfect choice for this, they will pick up and add content that you didn’t realise they knew. You probably don’t realise how often you simply talk out loud and they listen and if they can understand it, others will too.
Now, sit down with your new team member and discuss the notes. You should both have a copy and talk them through. Allow them to ask questions and ask them – Am I making myself clear, do you have any questions. Also allow them the opportunity to come back to you, at any time, to ask questions.
Finally, go back to your notes every 3 to 6 months and add to them. Don’t start from scratch; use those notes and build of them.
When you start your next team member get your first team member to go through the notes with them. This provides them the opportunity to take a bit of ownership of the business and probably the most important factor is that you have separated yourself from the process. Your first step in the managerial hierarchy that everyone (regardless of how often it is denied) thought about when they applied for their business name.
Good luck with your team. Remember, they aren’t mind readers.
THE HR PEOPLE