Most people don’t get into business because they love hiring and managing people. Yet if you’re going to run a small business for any length of time, these are responsibilities that you’ll eventually have to embrace. And, quite frankly, how you manage your employees could be the difference between being a success and experiencing utter failure.

Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Never Stop Recruiting

Most businesses view recruiting as something they do when an employee leaves or a new job position opens up within the organization. And while these are certainly times when you should recruit, they aren’t the only times. Recruiting is something that needs to happen indefinitely.

Recruiting is essentially networking. When you look at it through this lens, there’s nothing stopping you from recruiting employees, even when you don’t have an opening to offer. You’re simply trying to keep the pump primed and ready to go so you’ll have people you can call when the situation changes.

2. Master the Interview

Who you hire is just as important as who you don’t hire. In addition to asking interview questions that touch on competency and experience, dig deep and find out how candidates think. This will help you weed out toxic employees who will ruin your company culture.

“Ask for the five things the person liked least about his or her last (or current) company,” entrepreneur Sam Saxton suggests. “Asking for one thing is pretty common. Asking for five pressures the person to reveal either strategic insights or signs of toxicity.”

It’s also helpful to conduct a team interview. A toxic candidate may fool one person, but it’s unlikely that they can fool an entire team.

3. Make Onboarding Smoother

Onboarding is where the first impression occurs. A bad onboarding process creates animosity, confusion, and a lack of trust. Take the time to develop a strategic onboarding process that’s smooth and easy to repeat.

The best onboarding involves on-the-job learning with fellow employees (as opposed to classroom training and theory). Use your best employees to train new employees. You want someone who follows company rules and is an advocate for the organization. This sets the right tone for all new hires.

4. Streamline Payroll Management

“As an employer, you need to comply with your state’s labor laws and provide payroll accurately and on time,” entrepreneur Maggie Aland notes. “This task can be challenging as you hire more people with different employment classifications and benefits.”

The best piece of advice is to use an all-in-one payroll and HR software that streamlines these processes and responsibilities for you. This approach is far more cost effective than trying to create your own proprietary plan.

5. Deal With Taxes

You can’t mess around with taxes. As an employer, you are legally required to file W-2 forms with the IRS for each employee. There are a variety of ways to go about doing this, but it’s recommended that you use a W2 generator to automate this process and lessen the chances of making a costly mistake.

6. Hire From Within

It’s tempting to feel like the grass is greener on the other side. And while there are plenty of talented people outside of your business – and they often come with fresh perspectives – there’s also a lot of risk. Hiring from within may be a better choice. And according to a study that looked at 5,300 employees in various jobs, there’s data to prove it.

“The external hires [in the study] made 18% more than the internal promotes in the same jobs,” Susan Ward writes for Forbes. “In addition to scoring worse on performance reviews, external hires were 61% more likely to be fired from their new jobs than were those who had been promoted from within the firm.”

When you hire from within, you also stoke flames of optimism in the company and indirectly improve retention rates. Employees feel like they have a chance to climb the ladder and will stick around longer to see if they can nab a promotion.

Give Your Business a Decisive Advantage

Very few businesses excel at managing employees, keeping them happy, and making the most out of their potential. If you find a way to become proficient in these areas, you’ll create a competitive advantage that can’t be matched.

Managing employees well is no easy task. It requires strategy, planning, careful execution, and a willingness to go back to the drawing board when things don’t work.

Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer from Renton, WA who is particularly interested in travel, nature, and parenting. Follow her on Twitter.

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