Q: When a company is growing, how do you prioritize hiring needs?
A: Staffing and hiring is one of the most challenging topics for business leaders, regardless of the size of their company. Many struggle with figuring out how to prioritize their time, and it’s even more difficult to determine how much of that time you as a leader should spend on recruiting. Ultimately, prioritization of hiring is more of an art than science, but there are some key areas to consider as you are working through it:
1. Prioritize anything that directly impacts customer satisfaction.
One of the most important guiding principles for any growth in business is to prioritize customer satisfaction above all else. With this is mind, you should prioritize hiring for positions that will ensure an exceptional experience for the customer. This could include customer service agents, associates in a retail location, logistics or delivery employees or people looking at quality control.
As a leader of any business, your single biggest asset is your reputation -- if it’s strong, it creates a long run way for success through increased word of mouth referrals and customer loyalty. But even a single negative customer can have a dramatic impact on your brand and growth in the future.
2. Ensure you evaluate your time and the role you are playing.
As the owner of the business, it’s critical that you reflect often on how you are spending your time, so you can identify when its best to offload some of the responsibilities that are holding you back from doing what you do best. Ultimately, you are the best suited to develop your business strategy and vision, build the culture, and lead the team. You may also be most critical in sales and new business development, or delivering product innovation. Once you’ve reflected on how you are spending your time, you can prioritize hiring roles that help create space for you to do the work that only you can do. Being able to extract yourself from working in your business to actually working on your business is one of the most difficult challenges for any founder, but also one of the most critical needs to keep your business thriving.
3. The need for speed.
Without deliberate prioritization, businesses can default to inadvertently hiring for the roles that are easiest to fill as opposed to those that can unlock the most value for the company at a given point in time. One of the most important characteristics of a growth business is the ability to get to market quickly so you can deliver value to customers, get customer feedback and continue to improve. With that in mind, I suggest prioritizing the things that are slowing you down -- bottlenecks that are preventing you from moving as fast you otherwise could. This can be easier said than done. One way to surface bottlenecks is to encourage employees to let you know when they find themselves waiting or blocked, even if they can work through the block independently. This can be unnatural for people – often the tendency is for the employee to want to work this through on their own. But this information can be critical to helping you understand how work is flowing across your organization and what is really slowing the team down.
It is a good sign if you are even thinking about prioritizing hiring, as it is the first step to having a high performing growth organization. It is easy to fall into the trap of first hiring roles that are the easiest to fill versus what’s really most important for your business. Taking the time early on to reflect on what’s most important to your customers and determine what is holding you and your team back from making the impact you are capable of making, will help you stay in balance as an organization and ensure you are building a company that can sustain over the long term.