Hiring When New Business Arrives: 5 Steps to Success
New business is always great news — assuming you are ready to handle it. Many middle market companies find themselves flat-footed and playing catch-up in order to meet the demands of new business, and the situation can quickly become problematic if you stretch your existing employees too thin by adding work they may not be able to manage.
How can you tell it's time to hire a new employee to help your middle market company handle business growth? Here are three major signs:
- You've identified a new revenue stream, such as an international market or a customer segment, but don't have enough human resources and know-how to fully tap into it.
- Your existing employees are overworked and the quality of their work is suffering. Your customers may also complain, which is another sure sign you're stretching yourself too thin.
- Your middle market company has to turn down new work because it's operating at full capacity. In this case, you need to hire someone to expand your capacity and thus increase revenues.
How to Help the Right Person Hit the Ground Running
Once you've made the crucial decision to hire, it is important to choose the right person. Issues can arise if your new hire's technical skill set is lacking, or if he or she doesn't mesh with your existing employees and company culture. Take these steps to give your middle market company the best chance of hiring the most qualified person:
1. Have a clear idea of what success looks like in the new role, even before you write a job description. If, for example, you're looking for a salesperson to expand your reach in South America, then the candidate would at minimum need to speak Spanish, have experience working with customers in the South American market, be familiar with your company's offerings and industry, and be able to integrate with your existing sales team. Know exactly what you're looking for before you start the process.
2. Work with the candidate's future manager to write a clear job description. Be clear about what skills the candidate needs and the expectations you have for the role. You should also be transparent about your culture, letting candidates know who thrives at your company. A clear job description isn't just important for recruiting, but also for evaluating the candidate's performance after the hire.
3. Involve your existing employees in the hiring process. Letting your current workers help write the job description, request referrals and conduct interviews will improve the end result. It also strengthens the relationship between your existing team and the new hire. There can be a natural sense of jealousy, especially if existing employees wanted the open job and feel snubbed. Maintaining good communication is key to mitigating resentments. Be sure to explain how the new hire will help the whole company, either by lightening the team's workload or opening new avenues of market opportunity. Organize formal and informal events for the team to get to know the new hire right from the beginning.
4. Set up a defined process to monitor progress. The new person's supervisor should be the point person here, but you can use the same general process for every hire you make. By closely observing the new hire and offering immediate feedback, you'll be able to correct mistakes and negative behaviors before they get out of hand. Also consider connecting the new hire to a mentor, someone independent who knows how your company works. The mentor's role should include helping the new hire understand how and why your company does things and assisting them in navigating around potential minefields in those difficult first few months.
5. Offer informal onboarding. Promote cultural integration by arranging team-building opportunities that include the new hire, such as happy hours or trivia nights. Getting the cultural fit right may take time, but it's extremely important.
By following the five tips listed above, you'll be able to hire the right person to help your middle market company take full advantage of new business opportunities. As with so many things, it's better to take your time and select carefully rather than act rashly and regret your hiring decision. You don't just want just anybody. You want the right person.
How did your middle market company figure out when it was time to ramp up the hiring process? Has it allowed you to better manage your clients?
Boston-based Chuck Leddy is an NCMM contributor and a freelance reporter who contributes regularly to The Boston Globe and Harvard Gazette. He also trains Fortune 500 executives in business-communication skills as an instructor for EF Education. Circle him on Google+ and visit his website.