So busy that you need to hire help in order to keep up with demand. It’s a good problem to have—but it doesn’t feel like it. It feels overwhelming.
So, you do what everyone tells you. You look for help. You painstakingly search for the right fit and finally, after countless resumes, interviews, and skill assessments, you decide to hire them.
Finally, you think to yourself, I can stop worrying about this and let someone else handle it.
When your new team member just doesn’t “get it”
But what happens when after all that searching and assessing and hiring, your new team member doesn’t just seamlessly integrate into their tasks?
It happens more often than you think, and in most cases, it isn’t a sign of a bad hire. But first, it’s important to look at both sides.
As the leader, you feel frustrated. You brought this person on to alleviate the amount of time you’re spending on the problem, and focus your efforts elsewhere. So having to suddenly field questions or explain how to do things correctly (things you thought they’d know how to do) can feel exhausting. Why aren’t they just getting it? Isn’t that why you hired them? You start to feel like maybe it was a mistake—maybe they’re just not the right fit.
Not exactly. For the most part, everyone is going to require training. They might have all the skills needed to do the job, even have experience doing the job you hired them for, but what they don’t have is experience in is your company. How you do things, your systems, your team hierarchy, the culture—it’s all a new experience, and that takes time to learn.
If your new hire isn’t “getting it” right away, it doesn’t always mean they’re not a fit. So what does it mean, and more importantly, how do we alleviate that so that you’re not feeling frustrated and spending a ton of time on it?
Understand your role as a leader
As a leader, it’s up to you to make sure your new hire has everything they need to succeed. This means systems, trainings, and support that help them achieve their day-to-day tasks while integrating into the company. Oftentimes when we look at a company that’s struggling to retain employees or running in a way where everyone is constantly working 60-70 hours a week with no downtime, it comes down to inefficiencies in their systems. But the first step is to know that as a leader, this falls in your domain. If you don’t take steps to fix it, who will?
Approach from a place of empathy and understanding. Assume your team wants to do well and equip them with the tools and confidence to do that.
Re-visit your systems
By now, you’ve heard me mention systems a few times, and you might be:
- Rolling your eyes
- Wondering what I even mean by that
When I say systems, I mean all the tools you use in your day to communicate and do your job. How you get from point A to B. Whether that’s with onboarding a new client, doing a task, or bringing on a new hire. Every single step you take from start to finish should be as efficient, streamlined, and when possible, automated as possible. It saves you time, resources, money, and in most cases, the sanity of your team.
Think about the day-to-day in your company. Does it feel like everyone is constantly running around, getting things last minute, having to request the same thing multiple times, communicating on multiple platforms?
Often times, the break in communication or the inability to get things done in a timely manner comes from a lack of organization & clear systems. When we as founders are building our company, we get so used to doing things in a quick, scrappy way. It works great for a start-up that needs to be agile and experiment, but less so for a 6 or 7-figure thriving company that relies on clear structure and communications to get the job done.
Make sure your team feels heard
Good leaders listen. It doesn’t mean they’re pushovers or that they always take the advice presented to them, but they know how to listen, and they know how to make other people feel valued.
This is demonstrated in the smallest ways, like taking the time to let them know you see how well they’re doing, or that you appreciate the initiative they took. Little things like that make a huge difference for your team, and especially so for a new hire who is still learning. Show them that you’re rooting for them and make it clear that they can ask questions, and voice ideas. There’s nothing like a fresh set of eyes on things.
In the end, this is just down to putting yourself in their shoes and remembering what it’s like to be the new team member.
It’s about caring enough to pay attention.
Invite them to ask more questions
You may think that if your team has questions, they’ll simply come to you and ask them. It seems obvious enough, right? As a leader, you’re naturally curious, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, they need the invitation. Questions like:
- What are you enjoying learning about?
- What would you like to learn more about?
- How are you finding (something specific to their work)
- What can I provide clarity on when it comes to (something specific to their work)
- What questions can I answer for you? (note: this is different from “what questions do you have” or “let me know what questions you have” because it’s a more open invitation to ask, vs a passive one.
And while you do want your team to be self-sufficient, and there’s a level of encouraging them to be independent and take initiative to figure things out on their own, you also want them to feel heard. That’s where these check ins come in.
Who knows. You might just be surprised at what a fresh set of eyes can bring in—if you’re open to it.
Give them the opportunity to grow
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help your team feel confident and secure enough to grow. This is one of those areas that takes conscious effort. You can not just remain on autopilot and be a good leader. It takes paying attention to your team and what they’re going through.
A few ways to do this:
- Let your team know they’re valued. Show appreciation for even the little things they take initiative for or do well
- Invite them to share their ideas. There’s nothing like a fresh set of eyes
- Give them the space to try the things they’re curious about. Ask them what they’d like to learn more about and if possible, let them spearhead some of those things
- Pay attention to those unspoken skills and promote when appropriate. The job they’re in may not always be the job they’re best suited for within the company. By paying attention to their skills and passions, you can hire from within as you grow, giving them the room to grow into a more perfect role, while the company expands.
No one ever said being a leader was easy—it takes so much more than the movies would lead us to believe. Empathy, curiosity, and awareness, are all key skills a leader has. When it comes to bringing on new team members, it may not go as perfectly as you hoped, but if you’re open, and embrace what we’ve talked about, you might just be surprised at what a fresh set of eyes can bring in.
Even in the early stages, letting your team know they’re valued is a key part of employee retention as well as productivity. If they have ideas, listen to them. If they want to try something, let them. As long as these things aren’t leading to the downfall of your business in some way, allowing room for that curipousity and to show them they’re valued creates more secure and confident team members, which leads to a more productive and healthy operation.