For an entrepreneur, hiring the right resources is an essential step to being able to grow exponentially. But for many, the cost of hiring employees can seem prohibitive. That’s why engaging virtual assistants and contractors can be a perfect win-win to build your dream team. Over the last 25 years, I’ve hired and led teams for multi-million dollar projects as well as built my own virtual team of contractors to help me expand and grow. I’ve learned a lot about the difference between hiring employees, virtual assistants and specialty contractors along the way. And after many frustrating disappointments I finally realized there are three key traits to look for before I hire someone to join my team.
1. Role Ownership
There is more than one work-style – and knowing the right work-style preference for the role you are trying to fill is essential to freeing up your time “doing” so you can spend more time on your growth activities. I’m a big fan of hiring people to take ownership of a role versus having someone who requires a lot of direction and management. When you hire someone who is task-oriented, they are usually good at completing tasks but require a lot of direction and managing in their role. Their strength is in the doing not in the planning or problem-solving.
The task-oriented work-style will generate a LOT of questions and expect you to manage their priorities and tell them what and when to do each task. A role owner operates in the paradigm that they have complete ownership of the results of their responsibilities. A role owner will feel confident developing a plan of action and making decisions on their own. Role owners tend to jump in and just handle situation and don’t require a lot of day to day management (as a rule they hate being managed.)
Of course you need both types on your team but knowing when you need each is important to getting your expectations met.
2. Career Focus
When hiring contractors, it’s also important to know what their personal career focus is. Virtual assistant businesses are one of the fastest growing industries today. From generalists to specialists, many contractors are now learning how to leverage their own time and resources to create financial freedom. Depending on your needs, you’ll find a huge difference in availability, dedication, consistency and results between a virtual assistant who brings her own team and a contractor who wishes to have a few large clients to work with.
If your potential team member is focused on building her own business, know that you will be working with several people inside their team. The owners attention will be on his own marketing, strategy and team building efforts. Enjoying the consistency of one key person may not be possible. You need to look for someone who is really good at team development, project management and communication in this scenario.
However, if building your own team is your focus you’ll want to look for someone who is more interested in delivering their service to you directly. In this case, look for someone who is passionate about being an implementer of someone else’s vision and sees value in having a few clients that they dedicate a block of hours to.
3. Experience Level
Another distinct trait that is essential to uncover in the interview process is the level of experience in the actual “doing” of the role your candidate has. The more you expect “ownership” of the role the more important experience is. Many virtual assistants and online business managers have invested a lot of time and money learning what their clients need and expect – but that doesn’t mean they’ve actually done it. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a good candidate. But someone who doesn’t have actual experience will not be able to jump in and run the show.
If someone has been trained but doesn’t have experience actually doing a particular task it will be up to you to give them that on-the-job training. What that means to you is you will not be able to hand over ownership immediately and you will have to spend more time in the training mode. On the other hand, an expert who contracts out their services to business owners may excel at their specific area of expertise but may be unfamiliar with your unique industry. If there are a lot of nuances to your industry or way of doing things, be prepared to educate the contractor on what’s different about your industry so they can apply their talent successfully. If you are hiring so that you can free yourself up from a role then don’t make the mistake of hiring trained but unseasoned talent.
I share these three distinct traits with you so that you’ll learn from my mistakes and frustrations – and you won’t make the same mistakes I made trying to free up my time to accomplish the bigger dream.
One thing that will help the most though…
Learn how to delegate the most important tasks at each level of your business’ growth. Hiring the right people to do the right things can minimize the bad hires and unmet expectations.
I put together a FREE guide, The Smart Entrepreneur’s Guide to Hiring For Growth.