Whether you’re a sole trader looking to hire your first employee, or growing your existing team, there are some fundamentals that I recommend to my clients that will assist position your team, and you as a business owner for success.

Success being a cohesive and high performing team culture that have the fundamentals in place, which aim to minimise the risk of HR heartache.

Here are my Top 6 Tips to set your team up for success. 

1. Identify a clear vision and commit to communication

As a business owner, your vision is your own defined version of success.

A vision is what your team set out to achieve and ultimately should be a decision making filter when identifying aligned opportunities to pursue.

An employee should be able to clearly see how their work contributes towards that vision. An effective leader then uses every opportunity to communicate this.

Successful leaders:

  • Stay on message.
  • Keep their team focussed on the vision and associated goals.
  • Ensure they keep their team informed on issues that impact them.

Lack of communication is generally one of the biggest gripes identified by employees through cultures surveys undertaken by The Engaged Space. 

2. Know the skills that will help you achieve your strategy

When hiring, assess your strengths and weaknesses and what you can delegate to make the best use of the resources you have.

Then, within this context, be clear around what your business needs to deliver to get you closer to achieving your goals. These deliverables will require particular skills, knowledge and experiences.

Creating a role description that clearly identifies the role and person requirements will help candidates understand up front what the role will involve. It will also help you select the candidate that most closely meets the skills, knowledge and experience requirements set.

Lastly, this will also give your new recruit the best chance of succeeding in their new role. 

3. Don’t settle

The cost of a bad hire can be devastating.

Therefore, invest time in the recruitment process to provide you access to the largest talent pool, which will help you find the best fit for your business.

The process of recruitment sits in the HR space, but it is also a marketing exercise. It is therefore important to consider your employee value proposition and what would attract the perfect employee to you.

This can be the difference between your ideal candidate applying or not.

Consider engaging candidates with your purpose, your values, the remuneration and any other benefits, such as is the role flexible?

How you put your role to market, the interactions, or lack of interaction you have with candidates, will all have a direct impact on your employer brand. In line with this, always acknowledge and communicate the process outcomes to all candidates, as you never know, that unsuccessful applicant today may be your future ideal candidate.

4. Set your expectations

Start with an employment contract or letter of offer, that outlines the agreed employment terms. Specifically, is the role permanent, casual, full time, part time and which Modern Award and associated classification is the role employed under.

These are just a few examples of agreed employment terms and formalising these terms seeks to avoid future disputes.

Becoming familiar with your Award and the minimum conditions of employment that you as an employer need to adhere to, for example minimum wages, rostering and overtime conditions is a legislative requirement.

Our industrial relations system in Australia is quite complex so seek trusted advice if you need.

In addition to this, your organisational values, associated behavioural expectations and workplace policies, will outline your position on critical issues and identify how you and your team are expected to behave in business. It also helps drive transparent and consistent business decision making. 

5. Have regular meaningful performance conversations

Ditch the outdated annual performance review, the ones with rating scales and where six months of issues are raised in one meeting. Elements such as rating scales are subjective and often become a barrier to conducting the review in the first place.

Instead simplify the process by discussing:

  • What was done well,
  • What wasn’t achieved,
  • How this can be rectified or learnt from,
  • What barriers in the workplace prevent consistent high performance,
  • The goals moving forward that your employee will be held accountable for, and
  • What professional development may help your employee grow within your business.

In terms of professional development, this doesn’t have to be costly training, it could be the opportunity to learn new tasks on the job to diversify their skill set. 

6. Be courageous and have the difficult conversation

The standard that you walk past is the standard you accept and this includes poor behaviour and poor performance.

The longer issues fester the harder it becomes to manage and the more behaviours and the way work gets done become the norm. This negatively impacts your workplace culture, disengages your team and impacts productivity.

Addressing issues as they arise is an effective way to discuss what was observed, the impact of this to the business and your behavioural/performance expectations moving forward.

Was the behaviour out of character? If so checking in on the individual and their wellbeing will help identify any contextual contributing factors.

Is the behaviour more regular? Consider formal performance counselling, a performance improvement plan and/or warning depending on the severity of the issue.


These tips aren’t meant to be overwhelming, in fact they can be simplified to 3 principles, which include setting, communicating and managing expectations.

Establishing expectations clearly in the beginning, or preferably before things unexpectedly go pear shaped, will provide you with the confidence to consistently manage issues as they arise.

Taking the time to plan and prepare for hiring your team, will enable you to focus on your strengths and assist build your businesses capacity. It will allow you to attract the right skills and people to your business, who will be clear about how and what they need to do.

As a result, it will have a significant impact on your success and enable a highly productive employer and employee relationship.


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Meet Jos Hutchinson from The Engaged Space



Welcome to The Engaged Space, a progressive and innovative HR consultancy firm, where their sole intention is to create a positive impact on your workplace culture and employee engagement. 

Led by Jos Hutchinson, our Business Partner of the Month is loved by clients for being able to remove the HR overwhelm, bring them closer to their business goals, and provide guidance and advice right throughout the entire employment cycle.