Written By Leanne Hagerty
If you are a business owner who is at the point where you need to spend time focussing on the business strategy or tasks that require you to be away from the day-to-day operations; succession planning, having a 2IC or senior management team in place is crucial. It could be that you need someone with a specific area of expertise, experience or other resources to help you take the business forward. Or, maybe you need someone capable of making crucial decisions when you are not there to do so. The other reason that you could be dealing with this challenge is if you are considering selling or exiting the business. If this is the case, you may need to fill-in management gaps that are present in the company.
How To Hire
The majority of business owners will go through the recruitment process in a very uniformed way. The resume review, the interview where you will ask a standardised list of questions, then at the end of that, they will end up hiring the person they liked the most out of all the candidates they saw. According to WorkplaceInfo, a mistake in the hiring process that results in a person leaving early or being dismissed can actually cost up to half of their projected annual salary. For any business, that’s money best spent elsewhere and for a small business, that is a significant amount of money to say goodbye to. It’s especially costly if this occurs with a senior member of the team. This is why I can never stress enough to business owners the importance of talent management and people development. Often delegation of key responsibilities can lead to a member of the team feeling more valued and result in accelerated business growth as well.
Your hiring strategy and process needs to be in line with your overall business objectives. You need to make sure you are getting someone who is the right FIT for the business, and not just today. They need to be right for where you want the business to go. A candidate might look great on paper, they can interview and present themselves pefectly, and answer all the standard questions with enthusiasm and convincing responses. However, does this mean you are assured that you will not be left in a difficult position in 3-6 months when they do not seem to FIT into the role, or they are not performing as you would have hoped? Absolutely not.
The cost of hiring a person is high. There is the advertising; the time spent sifting through CV’s, the interviews, the training and let’s not forget the expenses of onboarding and getting them set-up and functioning independently. Finding that needle-in-a-haystack takes time. Moreover, once you have found them, adequate talent management is needed in order avoid having to go through the recruitment process again.
Make sure you give yourself time to find the right person- don’t rush when hiring, always be strategic, not impulsive.
There isn’t specifically a one-size-fits-all approach to hiring a Senior or General Manager or even a future CEO for your business. However, with that said, there is a method you can deploy in order to strength-test those individuals you might be eyeing up for potential management or 2IC roles. Many business owners have asked me how best to protect themselves from getting burned in the recruitment process. I always refer to our “FIT” model which I will elaborate on a little for you here.
What is the growth strategy for your business? Do you have one?
You need to ascertain where you are going and what potential resources your business is going to need. Are there any specific roles that you will need to fill in order to get your business closer to those goals? This section is all about the longer-term strategy, and will make sure that you get the right person for the future of your business. Someone who can not only grow comfortably in line with your company, but also add value to the business.
How much time do you spend looking at your job descriptions and role specifics before entering into the hiring process?
Having a clearly defined and well-written job description is crucial in terms of ascertaining a candidate’s competency for the long-term benefit of the business. A good job description will also help ensure the successful candidate understands the purpose of their role and what is expected of them, as well as where they fit into the business.
What does your business stand for, what are your core values?
All businesses have a culture and SME’s are no exception. The business will have been built up around certain strengths and values that are often instilled from the top. You need your candidate to be aware of this culture from the start. It is important that the individual you hire understands this clearly. Of course, it is normal for the culture of a business to change over time; it could be due to growth, or to the people who join and leave. All of these dynamics can change the culture of a company. Your new Senior Manager, General Manager, or 2IC needs to be conscious of the dynamics of your culture, so that they aid in it’s development rather than diminish it.
Creating A Core Value Scorecard
Do you know what your core values are?
Realising the importance of shared values as a key to building a great company culture, we created a values scorecard for our clients. This is a really useful exercise that focusses on injecting value into the business. Make a list of around half a dozen core values. A typical example of this would be valuing the ability to use critical thinking as a thought process when problem-solving.
However, how can you measure this as you bring people in?
So, at this point, you should have a scorecard with around six key values that are core to your business. You need to score those people within the existing business and see where people are currently at. This will then also give you the ability to work out what the tolerance level is too. An example of that will be if you have a high score of ten. You might find that some roles only require a seven, whereas others would need a slightly higher score. It is important to understand this, as it gives you, as the business owner, a really clear idea of what you value. Once you have done that, you can test your prospective candidates for those particular values when you talk to them over the phone or throughout the interview stages.
You will then be able to assess, regardless of how confident an interviewee, or how well they present themselves, how well they meet those core values. Focussing on this will give you a much more strategic approach to the interviewing process, as opposed to going purely off questions and answers and whether you like them or not. Diligence and discipline when onboarding key people is not optional.
Are you and your business ready to bring this person into the business?
You need to let go of the control. What got you to where you are now, may not get you to where you want to be in the future. So, if you are looking for a potential 2IC, general manager or a member of the senior management team, you need to be ready to accept this new person into the business. That also includes their new ideas which may at first seem a little uncomfortable. They must have clarity over what they are there to achieve and know that their goals are aligned with those of your business. If that is the case, you have done everything within your power to protect yourself from getting burned later down the line.
If you do not have a clear strategy and objective hiring management process to follow , you will most likely make a wrong or emotionally based decision.
There are a few options to consider. The first route many SME business owners choose to take, is looking internally for their 2IC. The most compelling reason for this is the inside knowledge they already hold about the business, the processes, and the clients. However, as an alternative to hiring up, you could consider partnering.
There is always the opportunity to merge with another business. It is a great way to grow and also provide back-up to key people within the business. You can refer to your values scorecard and use this when looking for a company to partner with. After all, you need to ensure that there are synergies between the two entities, or this could prove troublesome for your staff as well as for your customers. Investopedia cites one of the key reasons that people choose to merge their business is Synergy. This is a crucial factor for the safeguarding of your team and ensuring client retention. Although this route is considered to be a safer bet, although if you take a look at an article that was recently released by AMEX, undergoing a merger can also help with these elements of your business.
- Access to more customers
- Access to more skills
- Access to more capital
- Introduction to new markets
- Enhanced Innovation and product development
However, if you take your time and be careful about how you choose this partner, you could get a real match and actually be able to look at taking a holiday without needing to worry about the business.
You can also look for a General Manager or 2IC in the below ways:
- Engage a business partner or start to groom one for the future. This could be a person you employ currently, an external person to the business or someone within the business whom you can groom as a potential future successor.
- Hire a manager with the appropriate skills, background, proven track record and FIT
- Hire in Outsourced Management, which may be cost effective especially if you don’t need your 2IC or senior manager in a full-time capacity.
However, before you decide on which role best suits your business, make sure that you have a strategy! Start with the end in mind. You also need to ensure you give yourself plenty of time to find the right person- don’t rush.
Always be strategic, and not impulsive.
Do you know if you are ready to take on a 2IC or new member of your management team? Ask us about a free no-obligation Management Capability session to assess your readiness. Contact us or call 1300 987 567 to enquire about your session.