About a year after I started my business, I decided to hire my first employee.
Hiring that employee overall was a disaster.
I made so many mistakes with hiring that employee.
That hiring decision burned me so badly I almost vowed off hiring employees forever.
I’ve heard it said that when you hire someone, you should hire slowly and fire fast.
I did the exact opposite.
I conducted two interviews with this person.
The person was well educated but had no experience.
I believed that I had trained him well enough.
However, when I reviewed his work, I could tell he wasn’t getting it.
In my effort to make my life easier by hiring someone else, I had made my more difficult.
It took me almost as long to correct his errors as it would have taken for me to do the work myself.
It was completely frustrating.
In the year this person worked for me, I gave him three separate raises.
Why in the world did I give him three raises when his performance was substandard.
I wish I could give you a good answer.
I received advice from some business mentors that stressed the importance of working on my business instead of working in my business.
An example of working in my business would be doing the billable work that gets delivered to my customers.
An example of working on my business would be creating video training for my employees so they could learn how to do the work assigned to them.
When I looked at the advice of working on my business rather than working in my business, I erred on the side of working too much on my business.
When I hired that first employee, I didn’t have enough revenue to support the cost of paying for his wages and payroll taxes.
If things had worked out, this employee would have freed up my time to work on tasks that could have brought more income into my business.
However, because the employee I hired didn’t do good work, I ended up doing more work to fix his errors than it would have taken me to do the work on my own in the first place.
I told this employee many times that the main cause of his errors was not reviewing his work and double-checking his work.
As much as I told him to review and double-check his work, it appeared that my words fell on deaf ears.
There was no improvement in the quality of his work.
I spent a good amount of money on training him.
I hoped that he would get better if he got the proper training.
Again, there was no satisfactory improvement in the quality of his work.
I was constantly complaining to my wife about the employee.
Uugh is how I felt most of the time.
Having that employee was a soul-sucking experience.
Someone once told me that if you are thinking of someone more than your spouse than it’s time to rid that person from your life.
Finally, I called him into my office for a performance review.
I informed him that his work was not good.
I told him he had 30 days to improve his work, and we would then have another performance review.
At that performance review, I would give him feedback on the quality of his work.
He would then be given another 30 days.
If the performance hadn’t improved to my standards, that would be his last day of work.
I can’t begin to describe to you how frustrating this situation was for me.
What made matters worse, during that year, I paid this employee more than I paid myself.
That sounds bad at first until I share with you the context that I worked twice as many hours as this employee.
I just couldn’t understand why things weren’t working.
A few weeks later, the employee informed me that he had found another job.
Ok was the only response I could mutter.
At the time, I was livid.
I was fuming.
I had invested so much time, money, energy, and resources into this individual and he left just like that.
I felt at the time that he had taken the whole situation of working for me for granted.
I don’t believe he realized the pains I went to provide him a job and pay his wages.
I didn’t hire him out of charity.
I hired him to make my life easier.
He didn’t make my life easier. He made it harder.
But it wasn’t his fault.
It was my fault.
I should have never hired him in the first place.
My business wasn’t ready at that time to hire.
My business wasn’t grown up enough to require an employee.
I would have been better off at that phase in my business, just doing the client work.
It was too early for me to hire.
I’ve seen this mistake play out with many of my clients.
They hire employees to make their lives easier, and they hire the wrong employees.
They keep their employees on for too long and heap mountains of cash into a fireplace.
Employees are one of the largest expenses of most companies.
Employee costs can run from 10% – 50% of a company’s gross revenues.
After the disaster of that last employee, I made a decision that worked for me.
I did all the work myself.
Not the best decision long term.
But it was the best decision for that time period.
By doing all the work myself, I made my business financially viable.
I was able to pay myself a good salary and build up cash reserves.
The downside of not having employees working for me was I put a ceiling on the growth of my business.
My business’s growth was capped by the amount of time I had available to work.
The upside of me doing the work was I got paid.
Now that I have some maturity and time between that first experience of employment, I have a different perspective.
As I move forward with growing my business, I’m going to the best I can to choose the right person before I hire them.
I’ll provide that person with video training on how work is to be performed.
I’ll spend time working with the employee to improve the quality of their work.
I’ll provide more feedback on what’s working and what isn’t working.
Now that I have a different perspective, I realized the following about employing people.
Employing people is an investment in the growth of my business.
I have to make sure I have the right investment first and track the performance of my investment.
I have to do what I can to provide the right environment for my investment.
If the employee turns out not to be a good investment, then I will have to cut my losses quickly.
The longer I keep a nonperforming employee, the longer my business will be stuck in quicksand.