What they didn’t tell me about hiring my first employee

We’ve asked Samuel Ryde, brand director and salon manager at London’s Ena Salon, to share some advice about building a dynamic team.

By Isabella Hastings on 30/04/2019

Ena Salon speaks with iwoca about hiring employees
Photo by Ena Salon

Your business is growing and needs a team who can grow with it. You’ve googled your way through every question you can think of, and now you’re ready to hire your first employee, right? Before you do, we’ve asked Samuel Ryde with Ena Salon Hair and Beauty to share the tips that you’d be hard-pressed to find in a typical listicle guide to scaling up your business.

You might get it wrong, and that’s okay

The world is a big place, filled with talented individuals. Finding the right one to help you grow your business is a daunting project.

“It is really hard to employ the right people,” says Ryde. “Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you get unlucky.”

As frustrating as that may sound, hiring is about putting your faith in someone else, and that can be a challenge. Sometimes the person you think is ‘right’ for the job, is actually poorly suited to it. Similarly, you may find someone who will excel in the role even though they have qualities completely different from what you’re looking for. An open-minded approach to hiring can pay off in the long-run.

“You’re never going to have all of the information you need to make the right decisions,” says Ryde. “There are a lot of things to consider, so you just have to be willing to take risks on people.”

Not the advice you were hoping for? Don’t worry. We’ve noted down a few handy tricks, courtesy of Ryde, to steer you in what we believe is the the right direction when coming to these hiring decisions.

Look for a fantastic employee, not necessarily a fan

You’ve worked hard to create your business, so don’t be surprised if people notice and want to join your team.

“People come to us and are like ‘I want to come and work for you, I want to give up my life,'” says Ryde. “They hear about our reputation, and they think they want to do what we do. I tend to find with (those sorts of ) hair-dressers, they want to create this persona of a person who is obsessed about hair.”

There’s a fine line between obsession and passion, and it’s an important one to note. Obsession consumes people, it doesn’t allow for sustainable growth, and it lacks a thoughtful perspective. Passion, on the other hand, demonstrates an interest in learning, innovating, and connecting with like-minded individuals. Look for passion, but question obsession.

“The people who work here want the opportunity to better themselves, to push themselves, and become the best that they can be,” says Ryde. “So, when I employ people, I look for that energy. I look for those that are really stuck and need somewhere they can grow. It’s hard work, and not everyone wants it even if they think they do.”

But, how do you differentiate between those who think they want the job and those who will succeed in the role?

Honesty is the best policy

Yes, you need to sell your company to potential employees, but glossing over your expectations isn’t the way to go.

“My technique is to scare people off,” says Ryde. “If you try to coax someone into the position it will be a nightmare. I’m very blunt with people in interviews, but if you’re not honest with them, then they aren’t getting the information they need to make the right decision for themselves. It is their decision too.”

You need an employee who will be a good fit for your company, but the employee needs a company who will be a good fit for their lifestyle. Be clear about what you’re looking for, and likewise ask candidates to explain what they’re looking for. You will know better than anyone if your company can meet those needs.

“We want someone who will stay with us for the long-term,” says Ryde. “It’s only fair that we’re honest with them about what’s expected. That usually gets rid of them. But when it doesn’t, we’re a really close team because of all of the sacrifices we make to be here. It builds an amazing bond.”

Ena-Salon-Detail-03-1140x799Photo by Ena Salon

Make sure you can trust your team

Up until now, you’ve made just about every decision for your business. Hiring someone new means relinquishing a bit of that power. It’ll take some of the pressure off you, but it also means any wrong turn will affect you and your business, and the team you’ve worked hard to build. Before you hire anyone, ask yourself if you’d be confident in their ability to make smart and responsible decisions.

“Ped and Johnny (the owners of Ena Salon) trust everyone who works here,” says Ryde. “I’m dedicated to making this the business I think it can be, and my bosses know that, which means I can make decisions if I think it’ll help build the business.”

What are your hopes for your business? How do you measure success? Creating clarity around company objectives can help foster a sense of purpose for new employees.

“You want people to be on your side,” says Ryde. “When I make a decision, people won’t question me because they know that we’re working towards the same goals. They trust me because we’re on this same path together.”

It’s tough finding the right person for your business, but once you do, it’ll pave the way for ongoing company growth and give you some peace of mind knowing that you’ve got a team to help you hurdle every obstacle.