Hiring for your business is not a process that should be taken lightly. If done well, it should be about a lot more than just collecting resumes and conducting interviews. You should be closely aligning your hiring decisions with your business growth strategy to secure the success of your staff and future of your company.
Why is a growth strategy important?
When first starting a business, no matter what the industry, all of your focus is on making it work. In the early days, you may be thinking a lot more about surviving right now than thriving long-term. But once your company starts to experience success, and your products or services are in demand, it’s wise to be thinking seriously about a growth strategy. This means considering questions of how you will manage the challenges that come with an expanding business.
Who are your competitors and how will you maintain an advantage over them? What’s your strategy for market development and to increase market penetration? What are your product development and sales plans for the future? How will you develop and update your brand? Could the acquisition of other businesses be a part of your growth (or are you hoping to be acquired yourself?) How will you continue to surprise and delight your customers? What novel marketing ideas are you considering adopting? These are just a few of the questions around growth strategies that you should be asking.
What are the four stages of business growth?
There are four main stages to business growth, and they are:
Even as you are still beginning the start-up phase, you should be thinking ahead to how you will handle growth and maturity during the diversification of your business. And if you do well in those two phases, you will hopefully never have to see the fourth stage, decline. However, if you do, your aim will be to transform the decline stage into one of renewal, where you nurture your business back to health.
In each stage, you will need to navigate the complexities of hiring. Surviving the start-up phase will probably depend on whether or not you assembled the right team. As your company grows and you are outpacing the competition, you may find yourself suddenly having to hire at a rapid rate, so it will be important to establish smart hiring practices. Then, as the business matures, these practices should be refined and perfected over the long-term.
How does HR decide to hire?
A number of things can kick off the hiring process. Obviously if a current employee leaves and that opens up a space, HR will need to start the search for a replacement (for smaller companies, this may be the responsibility of other members of company leadership). But the hiring process often begins when the company is growing and that expansion identifies there are new roles required to continue successful business growth, such as when you are entering new markets.
6 Hiring tips to level up your business growth strategy
With your company undergoing rapid growth, here are some tips as you are preparing to hire new talent.
Map out a forward-thinking organizational chart
Creating a graphical representation of your current leadership and employee structure can be extremely useful by, first, helping you to see where you are at, and, second, allowing you to more easily see what roles need to be added in. Examining your current structure gives you an opportunity to see where there is room for development and identify areas where you want to expand. Fill in these potential ‘future positions’ and note their priority level (i.e. how soon do you want to create these new roles?).
Write an awesome job description
You want to attract amazing candidates? Write an amazing job description. Too many companies make the mistake of thinking “If we post it, they will come,” and end up settling for a dry, unappealing job description that yields disappointing results. Consider the fact that job seekers may be poring over dozens or even hundreds of job ads — it doesn’t take long before everything starts to run together. You want your job to stick out and for the description to be so intriguing that people can’t stop reading it.
Make sure to communicate why the position offers an exciting opportunity to the potential employee and why your company is a place where they should want to work. And while you should be clear about your requirements, resist making the list so forbidding that it leaves potentially wonderful applicants feeling like they couldn’t possibly meet your expectations.
Don’t settle for less than the best
Understand what qualities and abilities are really critical to the success of the position and set your sights on getting the right person for the job. While the process of talking to candidates may lead you to evolve your thoughts on what the needs are for the job, don’t fool yourself into thinking that someone missing fundamental qualifications, traits, or industry experience will be able to do it just because they might have some other positives. This may mean you have to wait longer to fill the job, but, frankly, sometimes it’s better to keep a position open rather than being content to fill the position with someone who isn’t going to be able to do it justice.
Design a thoughtful, efficient interview process
You might be surprised by how many companies – especially fast-growing start-ups – have not put together a well-considered process for interviewing potential hires. You don’t want to risk just winging it! If you attempt to do that, chances are that you are going to ask all the wrong questions and will not successfully hire the right employees for your business.
“The interview questions we had when we were hiring employees 6 through 10 were ‘What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of books do you like to read?’ Nothing that was actually driven by the values of the company—because none of us had ever done this before,” explained Jonathan Wasserstrum, co-founder and CEO of SquareFoot, in a recent panel discussion. “We had never been on the other side of an interview process and had definitely never thought of how each puzzle piece fits in.”
But since then, SquareFoot has learned to step back and see the full hiring life-cycle, improving its candidate selection and interviewing and onboarding processes. In addition to hiring a VP of People Ops to establish and maintain the company culture as the business grows.
Hire people who are compatible with your company culture
When looking to hire, you may meet candidates who are capable and seem like great people, but just might not be a good fit at your particular company. Every company has its own culture, and some objectively terrific people may not work well within that culture. This means you need to have an awareness of what your company’s culture is like and be prepared to communicate that to interviewing applicants. Ask questions that will help you better understand the applicant’s attitudes, approaches, and habits, so that you can better assess whether or not they will be suited to your business’s environment.
Look for opportunities to promote internally
When a position – whether it’s pre-existing or newly created – opens up, ask yourself if someone currently working at the company might be right for it. It can be easy to get excited about the idea of a “shiny, new object” – someone coming from the outside who will bring a fresh perspective into the company. And while sometimes that is precisely what you need, sometimes a great person is actually right under your nose and eager to sell you on their talents. Even if you like what that person is doing in their current role, think about it from their point-of-view. Would this mark a step up the ladder? Might it challenge them in ways that they find exciting? Most people don’t want to be stuck in the same role forever, so it’s good to give your best people opportunities for advancement.
How long is the typical hiring process?
According to a study by Glassdoor, the average length of the hiring process in the United States is just about 24 days. While the data shows that this is the average length, it can certainly vary widely depending upon the nature of the job, the urgency to fill the position, the size of the business, and other factors. The hiring process might involve a mix of phone interviews, in-person interviews with different departments or executives, and can also involve reference and background checks.
Preparing the business for growth
As you look to expand your staff to support your growing business, bear in mind that you will also need to expand your resources and attend to a variety of practical matters in order to support your employee growth, from hiring a Head of HR or VP of People Ops to making sure the vending machines get stocked more regularly.
Perhaps the most obvious issue is that you need to ensure you have enough physical space to accommodate new workers. Office space can be a tricky matter for growing companies, especially since you don’t want to have to move to a new space every six months to accommodate your burgeoning staff. The best answer is often to obtain a short-term lease or a flexible office space arrangement.
No matter what your product or service is, as you attract new customers and expand your business, you need to be strategic in your approach to handling growth. We hope the six hiring tips offered above will help point you in the right direction!