When to hire, who to hire and when to fire are some of the most challenging decisions a business owner or manager must face. All three elements are critical, but, in our experience, clients are most likely to get hung up on identifying the right time and pace to scale their staff.
Obviously, team building isn’t a problem that can be solved in a single blog post. There are a lot of factors that impact staffing decisions like overall company strategy, revenue goals and cash flow. However, there are 3 basic principles we rely on at ScaleHouse that can guide your thinking:
1. Have a Proactive Stance on When to Pull the Trigger
Waiting until you or your teams are completely burnt out and hanging on by a thread is not the best time to start thinking about adding a new addition to the team. If you wait until this point, you’re likely to make decisions fueled by desperation. And honestly, when was the last time a desperation-fueled decision worked out for you?
Instead, leverage company OKR’s to highlight key markers for triggering hiring (e.g., revenue, client volume, product milestones, etc). Make sure you’re also tracking other important factors like the percent of time strategic leaders are spending IN the business versus ON it, the types of projects your top employees are working on (are you giving them time to be strategic?) and overall employee morale and bandwidth. Looking across this combination of factors will serve as a strong indicator for when it’s time to start ramping up.
2. Separate Performance Issues from Headcount Issues
As you scale, measuring a team’s performance is critical to ensuring you can differentiate teams that claim not to have bandwidth because they truly are at capacity versus teams that claim bandwidth limitations because they’re not focusing on the right activity or aren’t operating efficiently.
This is a critical differentiation and factor to successful growth. For fast-growing or pivoting companies, a regular assessment of OKRs and KPIs are non-negotiable. Talent (hired or lost) is expensive. If your resource management practices are lacking, you might as well open that window next to you and start tossing money out. That’s essentially what you’re doing if you’re hiring unnecessary headcount or keeping under-performing employees on staff.
3. Know Who You Want and Be Committed to Their Success
If you’ve been thinking proactively about when to trigger staffing decisions, you should have a good sense of the roles you need to fill. Defining roles and responsibilities is vital to setting a new hire up for success and ensuring the company sees a positive ROI on the position. But a hiring profile should also include those intangibles that truly make or break a new hire. We’ve seen too many companies cut and paste a hiring profile from a previous position or competitor posting. Before you do this, ask yourself, “Is this really what my company needs now?”
The type of employee your business needs for its current stage might look very different from what you needed 3 years ago or even 3 months ago. Today’s job market is hot, especially for talented sales folks, and research indicates that almost 1/3 of new hires will quit within their first 6 months on the job. The cost to replace them? Up to 3x the cost of the new hire’s salary.
Defining the traits of a person who will be successful at your company is important for both parties involved. Beyond identifying the type of person who will succeed, you need to ensure you have the right environment for them to do so. Onboarding is a critical component of a staffing strategy. It’s not enough to identify that you need an employee or what that employee should look like. You also need to identify how you’ll support them during the first few months of employment.
Particularly in the early stages of a company, the people you surround yourself with can make or break your success. Make sure you’re being as strategic about your team investments as you are with any other investment your company makes.
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”