When deciding if it’s time to hire, most business owners start with a simple question: “Do we have the money?” The process of hiring a new employee includes compensation, but also the time it takes to screen applicants, interview candidates, and train each new hire. While the money conversation may seem like the best place to start, the decision to hire must address a more important question: “Do we have the need, and if so, what specific skills do we need?”
The first quarter of the year comes with a new budget and sometimes turnover of key staff members. When this occurs, it’s time to ask essential questions:
- What is our true mission and passion?
- What are our expectations, both financially and non-financially?
- Have we reached these goals? If not, what is missing and holding us back?
While the immediate answer to these questions is a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ they all require the business owner to consider the future of the company.
Regardless of the responses to these questions, begin with conversations centered around creating new goals and results which might include anything from making plans for increasing client diversity or sales mix, to expanding into new markets or acquiring competitors. In doing so, these discussions will require a deeper look at existing processes and practices, most notably, the issue of staffing. Closely examining what has worked in the past, will drive plans for the future. There is no guarantee that current processes will be applicable to the new goals, but asking more questions will help leadership navigate these newly defined directions and metrics.
But what if the answer to, “Have we met our goals?” is ‘no’? It’s probably time to investigate the “gap” between the ideal and the actual. These questions are a starting point:
- What are the systems that affect these goals?
- Are we as leaders effectively communicating our expectations and equipping our staff with the necessary tools to accomplish them?
- Where do we seem to be falling short? Input from current staff (both in leadership positions as well as others on the team) is essential at this stage of the game.
In addition to looking at the operational side of “filling the gap,” it’s imperative to look at two equally important factors – hiring and training.
- Have we as leaders provided the proper training to ensure that every team member has the tools necessary to be successful?
- Are the current metrics useful?
- Would the team benefit from expanded training?
- Are we preparing our managers to make accurate hiring decisions?
- Does our staff have a grasp of the latest and most efficient practices?
- Can we offer opportunities to learn these new skills?
- Is it time to consider redistributing some of the team’s responsibilities?
- And finally, is it time to do some hiring?
Making the decision to hire or not to hire, is all about asking the right questions. It also requires the willingness to be honest with ourselves and our staff. Over the past 7 years, these questions have centered on the issue of downsizing and the consolidation of talent. However, 2015 saw an acceleration of the hiring. It has been 6 or 7 years since businesses have asked these introspective questions with the prospect of increasing staff levels. As the growth trends continue, some important decision making will be required. We will address these decisions in Part II.
By Ken Schmitt, TurningPoint Executive Search
[Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search with over 18 years of recruiting experience. TurningPoint specializes in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country.]