Most startups start in homes. In apartments. There aren't fancy offices or conference rooms. Therefore it's likely that you have a team that's a bit scattered-- everyone working from home or in a different city. You meet up on Google hangs and your group text chains are miles long. And then one day you realize, you need a office. You need to bring your team together if you want to grow.
Transitioning those first employees to full-time in office employees is part of the business growing pain. And it's tricky for both ends.
Here are 4 steps you need to take.
1. APPROACH YOUR FREELANCERS WITH THE OPPORTUNITY
You won't get an answer if you don't ask. It can be hard convincing someone who works from home to make the switch to come into an office. We take our little freedoms where we can. But, if it makes sense (like if they're in the same city) you want to give the opportunity to the people who have been there from the start.
It's important that contracted freelancers feel like they are part of the conversation. Never make them feel like dispensable hired help. That said,they might not want to join the "team" and that is totally OK. Don't take it personally and don't burn the working relationship bridge. You never know when you might need their skills.
Some of them may enthusiastically want to join up FT. Those are the employees you want on your squad.
You shouldn't have to convince someone to come and work for you. It may start out well but if they didn't want it in the first place, the chances are high that they don't want it longterm. The last thing you need as a new company is to deal with rapid turnover. You want lifers and people who believe in the idea without hesitation.
2. ASK THEM WHAT THEY WANT OUT OF A CAREER
Make sure the opportunity is a good fit for both of you. This is super important. You might assume that because you're giving them a full-time opportunity that they want it. Some people don't work well in office environments.
They may be a great graphic designer, but they also might like working on multiple projects. They may thrive in the chaos of juggling multiple clients. Consider that they might be freelance for a reason. Again, no matter how much they know about your company, the last thing you want is an employee who doesn't want to be there.
So ask: what is it that you want? Where do you see your career going? Have you worked in a "traditional" office setting before? And if you're a small team, are you really OK with a startup environment? A lot of people glamorize the rise and grind of the startup world, but the hours are long, the nights longer, and you burn the midnight oil way more often than you're out on the town.
It's not always pretty and it's not for everyone. It's a big jump to go from spending most of your time in your living room to hardly ever seeing it.
3. THIS ONE IS HARD, BUT DON'T BRING FRIENDS ON FULL-TIME
Many business owners get their idea off the ground by asking the people around them for help. If you're BFF is great at social media, maybe you asked them to help you out. But a freelancing friend is a lot different than an employee friend. You need to consider that it might be time to cut the working relationship cord. It's rough, but not impossible.
Take them to lunch. Have an honest conversation about the company growth and tell them your concerns. It's incredibly hard to have a boss/employee structure with someone you've known forever and want to keep in your personal life.
The goal is to turn your employees into family, not turn your family into employees. It might be hard at first, but they will thank you in the long run.
4. CONSIDER THE WORK HABITS YOU ALREADY KNOW
Don't overcomplicate the process. You may not know what someone is like IN an office, but you do already know HOW they work. When and how they respond to emails or urgent matters, for example.
If one of your freelancers is amazing at what they do, but notoriously bad with deadlines or doesn't interface well with clients, that isn't going to change once they are in an office environment. You need an A-team from the gate.
In a way you've already done the SUPER hard work of vetting people. Use this knowledge to your advantage.
Want more? Check out the Marriott Hotels "Like a Boss" series. Where we shared Why Surrounding Yourself with the Best People Matters.
Create & Cultivate partnered with Marriott Hotels, to profile local woman entrepreneurs who are bringing their ideas to life where they live and to create a space to foster the ingenuity of an inventive class who know that success is never final.
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