This can be a daunting task. A blank page double-whammy extraordinaire!
The good news is there are ways to greatly maximize your odds of success.
Expectations are important, for both the new hire and for yourself. This is new, uncharted territory; regardless how how much you know, there is some amount of knowledge regarding this new hire that you simply don’t have. During this process, you will want to emphasize the importance of flexibility and adaptability. Be ready for things to change…maybe even before the hire actually happens!
Be open and honest
When crafting your job description, interviewing, and finalizing the hire, be very open about what you do not know. You are much more likely to find long term success if you approach the hiring process as a learning process where both you and the new hire will learn side by side. Communicate that. You will earn the new employee’s trust with your openness, and staying humble about your blind spots will help you uncover them much faster. Change will happen. Embrace it openly.
Ask for advice
One of the best ways to learn about things you have never done before is to talk to people who have successfully done those exact things. In the spirit of admitting that you don’t know everything, you should seek out advice from as many sources as you can.
Do you have mentors? People who have succeeded before you that have helped you along the way. They may not have experience with the exact issue you are dealing with, but they are likely to have good ideas. It’s possible that your situation triggers a pattern in their memory that sheds light on what to do.
People who have done the job before
This one is straightforward. Utilize your network to find people who have done the job you are about to hire for. It does not have to be an exact match. LinkedIn can be an excellent resource, as well as a simple, targeted email or call to people in your network explaining your challenge and what you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to cold-contact people. If you do your research ahead of time and write a thoughtful note, many people will respond positively. Of course, being introduced by a mutual connection tends to be more effective.
Ask your team what they think. They are living and breathing similar challenges to you, and they have a unique perspective on your business. Again, your willingness to admit your blind spots will go a long way in gaining your employees’ trust and will help elicit helpful feedback.
What? Admit to my competitors that I don’t exactly know what I am doing? Crazy! Or is it? Most businesses will not win or lose based on what their competitors do. Most businesses die because of self-inflicted wounds. Having a network of trusted peers and competitors can be very powerful. I am not advocating opening all the books of your business, but if you are open about some of your challenges, you are likely to be met with respect, admiration, and advice. Additionally, you never know when one of these peers/competitors could be a potential acquirer, acquiree, future employer, investor, or advisor. Become more powerful by giving power away.
Keep notes and learn
Be relentless about taking notes and learning. You will never run out of challenges, only earn the opportunity to solve new problems. Embrace this and smile :)
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