The summer is nearly over.
For large corporates, budgets will kick off soon. If you’re a business owner, next year’s growth plans should on your mind.
Either way, you’re likely to hire team members within the next few months.
In an ideal world, hiring should be a mutual growth decision. You add more manpower to churn extra activity and you help individuals achieve development goals at the same time.
But, for many managers, it’s more like a race; finding the best match for a role that you want filled yesterday. And when the need to cover operational activities overtakes complementing your existing team with missing skills, you know that your position as a leader is under threat.
You might think that the best solution is to fast-track the hiring process.
Whilst this can be helpful, there is a simpler and safer way – reduce uncertainty around on-boarding times. There are a few ways you can achieve this.
Why don’t you re-allocate your existing team members?
When there’s a need to grow the team, most managers’ first reaction is to draft a job description, advertise the role and source CV’s.
But did they stop to challenge the need for that specific role?
If you’re tempted to put a role profile together, think first of the real question:
“Where does this role fit?”
Of course, if you require very specific skills that the team doesn’t currently possess, you’ll have to hire team members externally.
But if not, consider whether the gem you’re after could be just a few desks away?
It’s always easier to fulfil a position internally. You know the employee’s behaviour and competencies. It can help with internal promotion, or give a fresh start to someone who’s been on the same job for a while. From a leadership perspective, it shows that you’re aware of internal development needs within the team.
Re-framing the role within the context of your current team allows you to ask:
“Do we have competency already?” and “Is it part of a team member development plan?”.
When you focus on skillset instead of fixed roles, you create an opportunity to revisit the team dynamics, according to its maturity.
What are the ideal hiring time-frames?
The right time to hire team members is when:
- you can free up the time to train and complete team immersion
- you have enough work for them to get their teeth into
Nowadays, this ideal combination rarely exists. Projects can be delayed, unexpected demands can throw you off track, and candidates’ availability is always unpredictable.
If you’re looking for tactics to speed up the process itself, I encourage you to pause and re-examine the problem.
The real win is when you can get clear sight of when the employee will be fully up and running, at a decent level of performance. For this to be achieved, the ball is in your court. Many elements of the hiring process depend on you, and it’s your responsibility to have them under control.
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Hire team members through a smooth process
Employment largely depends on external moving parts, but there are always elements you can prepare as soon as you identify the need for team expansion.
Here’s your early prep checklist:
- define the role (whether it’s a new role, or replacement of an existing team member)
- draft a job description that supports team development
- define your interview path, and use questions to spot a good team player
- warm up the head-hunters (if you work with some)
- prepare a successful on-boarding process and get training materials ready
When you line up all of these elements well in advance, it leaves you with only 3 unknowns:
- sourcing candidates,
- interviews lead times,
- candidates’ availability.
Which is always easier to manage than the whole end to end process.
Candidate-dependent elements are difficult to fast-track. If you’re into optimisation, a more efficient place to start is to decrease interview lead times.
You can start early with your first round of interviews. When you hire team members, you want to keep the best ones and filter out the rest. This part can be initiated in advance. There’s no harm in spacing out interviews, as long as you’re clear and fair with your candidates.
An alternative would be to complete the full process early. Again, it’s crucial to be fully transparent with candidates on the reason why you’re starting weeks in advance, and when you expect the role to be available.
Whichever path you chose, it provides you with an opportunity to show that you’re a professional who leads teams through trust and does not rush activities (or people) at the 11th hour.
What to do when it’s too late?
Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of anticipation. Someone quits. Client demands progress faster than you expected. Or both at the same time.
If you become short of time, you still have the same choice (external hiring or re-allocating within the team), but the context of the question is slightly different:
What will cause the least team disturbance day to day?
Is it asking someone from the team to take on the new job in the short term?
If you need someone to cover as an emergency, making the reasons for your decision clear is helpful to maintain levels of employee engagement. You can offer them help to prioritise activities, or manage their schedule. But if it’s a temporary fix, say it.
What’s the best way to hire quickly without compromising quality?
If you need to hire team members externally, keep in mind that when you need to speed up the process, it should never be at the expense of quality.
Be pragmatic and go for the low-hanging fruit. Call back someone you worked with in the past, who you know and trust. Ask if your peers can recommend an ex-colleague. You won’t get tons of CVs this way, but you’ll get trusted candidates. Which means – usually – higher quality profiles.
Another way is to post the role profile on LinkedIn, and organise a speed-dating event. Even though it sounds ideal on paper, be prepared to have a little more flexibility on your requirements. LinkedIn is a vast place, and you getting a perfect match first time is rare.
As a last resort, agencies or consultants are still an option. It’s a very expensive solution, but they’ll sort you out in the short term. If you go down that route, make sure you set to work immediately on a replacement plan.
Bringing new team members in can be a smooth process if you have visibility on the timeline. Having a strong hiring process where the main steps are prepared in advance is always helpful. But the key to successful on-boarding is always simplicity, which often relies on having a good network of talent to call upon when a role opens up that would work for them!
What is the first thing you do when you need to hire a new team member? Share your tips in the comments below!