News & Blog

Lessons from an Entrepreneur:  All About Employees

News & Blog

In my last post, we talked about knowing when to bootstrap or invest in your business. One of the biggest investments in your business will be your employees. We started growing and adding people to the company when we moved into our first office.   It was surreal, driving into the parking lot and seeing all of the cars of our employees, and the enormous amount of responsibility we felt for them and their families.  These realities of running a “real” business were frequent and sometimes exciting, sometimes not.

Be selective.

A lot goes into hiring a new employee.  It’s expensive.  The expense of time – time writing specifications for the position, time and money to post the position, time to review resumes, set interviews, schedule all involved, do the interview(s), prepare the paperwork, training, etc.  The person being replaced is leaving with a “briefcase” full of knowledge, there is an expense to replacing that.

The importance of screening anyone you bring in is huge.  Can they do the job expected to be done?  What about their personality, do they play well with others?  Do the customers like them?   Are they representing the company and the team well?  Are they the best choice for the position you are hiring for?

Your biggest asset.

Tom and I have both learned a lot about people and their value to our success.  When our first employee left, we cried.  How would we replace him?  What would happen to us without him?  Could we do it without him?  We did, and with things like this, you gain perspective.

Tom spent his entire adult life until this point, in the Navy.  In the military, people can’t just quit and you can’t just fire them.  It took Tom some time to get used to the differences of managing people in the commercial world vs. the military, and quickly realized you can’t have people stand at attention at your desk while you yell at them.

We had a few people come in and work for Tom for short amounts of time in the beginning.  I don’t want to just come out and say he was an asshole, but … he was tough.  We hired (let’s call her) Susan after going through a couple of others and she seemed to be doing well.  She was very organized and seemed to adapt well to Tom’s management style.

Be patient.  And fair. 

One time he called her from DC, lost in traffic, and loudly expressed his concern of being late for his meeting.  She had a map pulled up on her screen and tried to direct him over the phone.  It is near impossible to direct someone like this, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area.  Susan left not long after that phone call. Tom got his Christmas present a couple of months early that year, a GPS.

Finding the right ones!

Not long after Susan left, Sarah came and that was over 17 years ago.   Sarah is a rock star for Web Teks.  She knows everything and everyone and every detail in between.  She is smart, patient, kind, and doesn’t get frazzled easily.  We all developed a groove working together and Sarah lets things roll right off her back.  A quality that helped her and Tom work very well together.

Be flexible.

She’s also an amazing mother of four.  Not long after she started working with us she got pregnant.   She came back to work much sooner than necessary, but she brought her newborn with her.  We set up one of the offices for her daughter to sleep in and I still find pieces of paper she drew on at my desk or little notes she has left for me through the years.  Our children spent a lot of time together growing up and we have vacationed together many times.  We consider her family our family.

Feels like family.

When people become so integral in our business and lives, it’s hard not to consider them friends and family.  One of my favorite compliments about Web Teks is that it “feels like family”.  I know that isn’t always the best dynamic in the office, but it has always worked for us.  People usually stay a while with us and when they leave, I feel confident that they have taken knowledge with them that will help them with their future.

I’m not a micro-manager, almost to a fault.  It makes it that much more important to hire people who are highly qualified for their positions.  I don’t care to, nor do I have the time, to micromanage every position in the company.  We communicate frequently and make decisions as a team.

Get feedback.

Several years ago we applied for and won one of the Best Places to Work in Hampton Roads.  It was a great experience for all because we collaborated on what changes we needed to make to improve the work environment.  And while we have only applied for the award once, the improvements we made stuck.

Sometimes size matters.

Our size makes some things a challenge, but the benefits exceed most challenges we face because of our size.  We are often called on to solve problems for our clients and because of our size we are able to react quickly.  Our size also makes it easier for us to provide more benefits to the team.  Most importantly, we know each other and we count on each other.

Today.

I miss my team. We chat randomly throughout the day. We talk about work, clients, brainstorm new ideas, tell jokes, and post funny pictures. We have a weekly virtual cocktail, where we share stories of how this working from home is working out for us. How big spaces seem less big now that we are sharing it with others, all of the time.

We share tips, and resources, and even supplies that have been difficult for others to get a hold of.  I drove to each of my employee’s homes to deliver a cake, shaped like a roll of toilet paper. It was so good to see their faces, and fun to see their reaction to the surprise delivery.

I look forward to the new normal normal.

dyanne

Contact us today if you need to chat about your tech stack, website, apps, drone tech, digital transformation, or just need some tech guidance in your business! Or if you just want to chat with me about running a business, entrepreneurship etc.

 

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