Most small and mid-sized businesses hire people in one of three ways:
- An existing employee brings you someone new.
- A person from a staffing agency turns out to be great.
- Out of the 1,000,000 applications submitted to your job post, 50 seem to be a fit, so you start making calls.
If the first method works out, that’s just luck. The staffing agency method is more sure-fire, but a lot of those people are job shopping, and so if you don’t act fast – especially in today’s market – the good ones rapidly disappear. And as for the job posting & resume method, most people would prefer to endure an IRS audit. Making the whole project even more trying is the fact that after you finally get someone new on staff, there’s still an almost 1 in 5 chance that you’ll lose them within six months.
How do you build your business in a situation like this?
One of the best ways is to start internally, by improving your meetings and your goals. Better and more efficient communications among your existing staff will spike their productivity, for one thing, so the need for the new hire might become less acute. But more important than that is creating clarity around the goals your people are expected to accomplish.
Find the Position, Not Just the Need
Managers who are responsible for well-defined metrics and projects can allocate their team members’ time more efficiently. If the manager can’t take care of their metric or their project with their existing team, they’ll have a much more precise idea as to what – and who – is missing.
Say you’ve got a shipping manager who needs to keep his team packing, labeling and loading most of the time, and he’s got three clear metrics around those things. He’s also got a project to figure out how to reduce the both the monetary and environmental cost of the packing materials you’re using right now. Marketing wants to brag about what he comes up with, and you know some of your customer advocates will spread the word, too, hopefully boosting sales and spreading goodwill leading into the holiday season.
If your manager understands all of that, and looks at his situation with that level of clarity, when he tells you that he doesn’t have the staff needed to handle it all, you can fully expect him to know exactly what’s missing. He needs half of a person to test new packing materials and make the measurements for the estimates his project requires. And he needs half a person to pick up the slack for regular shipping. Since half-people don’t exist, he has a 1:1 with his most skilled packer, who also gets the big picture and who happens to be a nature-lover motivated by the environmental side of the project. This person agrees to becomes his tester and estimator, and will become his trainer and buyer once a decision has been made.
Next is the team meeting, when he gets his whole staff together to explain the change and to let them know that they need to hire a new person. At this point better meetings and clear goals really come together for you. Everyone likes the idea of hiring a new person, but they have several ideas as to how to reorganize their work so that this person will be put to the best use. The three metrics for which they’re responsible (packing, labeling, loading) help them refine their overall process. They know from experience that if the person who packs also labels, accuracy goes up significantly. They know that palletizing and loading should be combined for the same reason.
They all also know which parts of the process they personally do best, and by aligning themselves with their own preferences, they decide that the new hire will be on the loading dock. The buy-in behind job creation like this is exceedingly high. Your existing staff isn’t looking at a potential competitor. They aren’t worried that the “new guy” will cost them anything.
Prepare the Team, Not Just the Manager
Instead, they feel like they’re the ones who requested the new guy, so give the team another project: to successfully onboard their new hire. Since you’re got better meetings and clear goals in place, you’re not just creating a job “in the warehouse” in the blind hope that it will help out a team that’s always behind.
Just the opposite. You’re filling a blank spot in a well-defined process that’s also primed to adapt when you solve the packing materials problem. Any one of the three hiring methods available to you will work better because of this clarity.
Since the first one is the best one, better meetings and clear goals turns out to be a great way to make your own luck. And once you’ve got your new hire, he or she should never suffer stress from confusion. From the very first day they’ll know exactly what they’re supposed to do. And as soon as they can do it as well as their teammates can, then the whole group gets to celebrate the successful completion of the “new hire goal.”
That’s how managing with better meetings and clear metrics and projects benefits everyone – including the people you haven’t yet hired.