02 Sep Time to grow? Six things that will help tell you when to hire.
It’s lonely at the top.
If you’re a solopreneur, an entrepreneur with a small team, or running a good-sized organization, you are used to making decisions that you are alone are qualified to assess.
One of those considerations may be when to make a new hire. Whether it’s your first employee or your 50th, you have to weigh if perception (yours’ or your employees’) that you need help is real or imagined. So how can you pressure test your company to see if it is time to start reading resumes?
Here are six tricks for knowing when to hire:
1. Work smartly. Are you at full productivity, or just feeling busy? Feeling overworked doesn’t necessarily mean you actually are overworked. If your team is protesting that they are stretched beyond their limits, stop and assess what is consuming their time.
Are they working on projects that are obsolete? Free up bandwidth by articulating clearly what is a priority. By making sure that everyone is only committed to what they ought to be, you can ensure that you do not hire simply due to lack of communication.
2. Do what you can. Are they tasked with things that they are not in their skill set? Be sure you haven’t got the wrong people against the wrong deliverables, when someone else could do the same activity more efficiently.
Similarly, is work being properly delegated? And this is one where you may need to look in the mirror – those in leadership positions are more likely to fall risk to not relinquishing hold of activities that they don’t need to do themselves
3. Take a time out. Are people showing up on time, and using their office hours wisely? Even well intentioned employees get distracted with unimportant work emails that they have been copied on, or end up attending meetings that have more people than needed or go on too long.
It is never too early to promote healthy email habits, which includes discipline about refraining from the all-mighty group email. (You could even shake things up by having meetings without chairs, as some studies show that standing meetings are more effective.)
4. Everybody’s an expert. What kind of work is purportedly not being done? After all, you need to understand if you need an intern or an engineer. Not all hiring decisions are equal – resist the temptation to overspend on an expert when a practitioner will do.
On the other hand, if you’re expanding into a new service or product area, it could be a better use of resources to add someone to the team who knows that specialty, rather than train.
5. Train for time. But on the other, other hand (sorry), perhaps an investment in training and skill development could make your existing team work faster and smarter. Plus, you’ll likely win points for helping your team pick up new skills and create opportunities to promote from within rather than hiring already trained people over them.
6. Ride the (short-term) wave. Is the work overload temporary or likely to last? People tend to take vacation during the summer, leaving others to temporarily pick up their workload.
Other businesses have a seasonality trend that may not be obvious when they are first starting out. Or a new opportunity might come with a leaning curve. Or, if you do need to hire to get over a peak, consider a short-term option like a temporary employee or an intern. (Read our prior article about temporary-to-permanent options for more ideas.)
[bctt tweet=”Make sure that you are not reacting in the moment, but genuinely have a sustained bandwidth problem before you hire.”]
Hiring a new team member can be exciting, stressful, or both. But be smart about it.
But more importantly, make sure that this critical decision comes when you really need it, not as a response to a situation that you can fix differently. Putting people against the right deliverables, training those who need it, and effective communication on corporate priorities can help ensure that “busyness” isn’t masking other challenges that do not require additional headcount.
Then, when you are ready to expand your team, you will know that you were certain when to hire, and who you need.