People & Leadership

How to support your first employees and help them thrive at your business

Now you've taken on your first employees, discover what you can do to ensure you support them so they can perform at their best.

An entrepreneur for more than 30 years, Anthony Impey, now CEO of productivity non-profit Be the Business, has set up, built and operated numerous businesses in the IT and telecoms sector.

His decades of experience have taught him a number of important lessons in managing employees.

Here, he shares five tips on how best to support your first employees:

1. Give people scope to be extraordinary

2. Relinquish control

3. Remember your employees won’t necessarily have the same connection to the business as you

4. Have a set of beliefs that your team can sign up to

5. Remember that your employees are human beings

Some of my biggest management successes have been where I have set some broad parameters but otherwise let people get on with the job they’re doing.

With the right kind of guard rails, clarity on the direction of the organisation and a common goal that everyone is working towards, people can do extraordinary things.

It never fails to amaze me how people respond to those environments and the kinds of things that people achieve.

When someone comes to work for your organisation, they want to do a good job.

You don’t need to tell them the minutiae of what needs to be done – let them fulfil their own objectives.

Don’t overmanage people.

It’s been only you from the start. And when it’s just you, you know where the organisation is heading but you’re also the person doing all the work that helps to get you there.

These two roles fuse into one.

The moment you bring somebody into your organisation, you have to be able to separate those two things. Letting go of control is really easy to say and very, very difficult to do.

There is always a tendency to think that you – as owner-manager of the business – know best.

It can be really tricky when you ask somebody to do something and they don’t do it quite the way you would have done it.

But they may do it a better way.

Managing that tension is a challenge, and it’s always best to ask yourself the question ‘is this going to help us reach our goals?’ You need to be able to rely on people to apply their own ingenuity to achieve those goals.

At Sage, we’ve joined forces with Be the Business to help you hire and inspire your new employees like a boss. Check out our series of articles, which will support you along the way:

It’s impossible for employees to ever feel as connected to the business as you do as the owner-manager. Often you have a lot at stake.

You might have mortgaged your house to finance the business, so it has to succeed.

Employees don’t have the emotional and financial connection in the same way that you do. But they need to have shared belief in your goals for the business.

That way, you can be really confident in the way your organisation is being represented by your employees.

Great teams are made up of a really diverse set of individuals who do things their way but are co-ordinated around a common goal.

You need that diversity of individuals in the business to be extraordinary.

Sometimes when you go into an independent shop, the staff are so impressive in how they help customers that it’s clear they really care about the business and they’re engaged in their jobs.

You can see it straight away.

When I see that, I always think this is an example of an organisation in which the owner has really taken the time to help their staff appreciate why the business exists and why it is important.

Have a set of beliefs that your team signs up to and feels happy to contribute to. Customers want to see the results of that in the service they receive.

Over the past 18 months during the pandemic, we’ve been allowed into our colleagues’ homes, via video conferencing, and seen their lives outside of work – their pets, their children, and so on.

We’ve focused a lot on everyone’s mental health. We’ve also shifted away from the idea that everybody should be at their desks from 9am to 5pm.

Recognising that team members may have commitments outside of work that need to be navigated, that they will often give their all no matter when or where they are working, and remembering that they have lives outside of work, is really important to encourage engaged and loyal staff.

Be the Business is an independent, not-for profit organisation, with one single goal: to help leaders improve the performance of their business.

For more information, visit the Be the Business website.

Editor’s note: This article was first published in August 2021 and has been updated for relevance.

A guide to hiring and supporting your first employees

At Sage, we’ve joined forces with Be the Business to help you hire and inspire your new employees like a boss. Check out this guide for top tips to help you along the way.

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