First-Time Employers Have a Lot to Learn

By Joyce M. Rosenberg, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Many small business owners who are starting to hire workers are finding they too have a new role: They're becoming employers for the first time.

It can be a hard transition from employee to employer. Even if you were a manager in the past, you'll probably find that being an employer requires a different approach toward workers. You'll have to do a lot of thinking just about being an employer before you hire someone.

You'll also learn quickly that things that an HR department used to handle are now your responsibilities. And you now have a new boss of sorts yourself — the government.

Here's more about some issues that brand-new employers face:

MANAGING EVERYONE'S EXPECTATIONS

One of the hard parts about being a first-time employer is having a different feeling about the business than your employees do, says Arlene Vernon, president of HRx Inc., an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based HR consultancy. Vernon says of entrepreneurs, "they think about the benefits of how everything is going to impact growth, and a lot of employees are just coming to work -- even the good ones."

That means an owner needs to understand that he or she can't expect employees to be as passionate as they are about the business. That doesn't mean you can't have high expectations or standards for how they do their job and their commitment to the business. But, for example, your new employees may not want to consistently work 12-hour days as you do. That has to be OK, or you could lose a good staffer.

Another problem new employers have is taking their vision of what this new job is about and putting it into concrete terms so a new hire knows what to expect, and do. You may know that you want an assistant, but do you know exactly what assignments you're going to give your new employee? Vernon says some workers might just jump in, figure out what they need to do and get the job done. But others will want specific guidelines about the work. The solution is to come up with a job description before you start looking, and put it in writing.

You also need to think about how you're going to work with your new hire. When you're used to doing everything yourself, are you going to be able to train your staffer and delegate tasks?

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