Recruit to Grow Your Business, not to just increase your team size

Recruit to Grow Your Business, not to just increase your team size

Recruitment is an important skill for an SME. For small organisations, adding an extra person could be as big as 50% of your organisation. When asked, I always advice to be very careful in recruitment into SME’s. Think about recruitment, not just to add more hands to the pump – SME’s need people to be multi skilled, so you need to look beyond your current issue.

It is all too easy to think, we are really busy and we need another person to help out. Often, busy periods are temporary and you end up recruiting based on that issue. Once that issue is resolved, will that person have the skills to take the team forward? They may become an expensive distraction for the business owner or face being out of a job simply because the business thought recruitment was the answer…an expensive answer?

When I recruit I look at how the incoming person can bring in something different, either in skills, attitude or experience to what I have in the team already. If you want to move your business forward, you need to think a bit more aggressively in your recruitment. This is why it is really important to think above the longer term,  where do I want to be in 6, 12 and 36 months time? Sometimes you see people recruit people with the same skills, because thats what they are comfortable. I would rather bring in people with different or better skills and then manage them, than be the most intelligent or most skilled person in my organisation. 

Based on that, consider who the right person could be to bring into your organisation that could fit into the medium and longer term goals. So if you do this right, the person comes into your organisation, learns the business by mucking in with the short term problem and now is still valuable to work on the next project you want them to get involved with.

Remember – sometimes recruitment is not the only answer. Often if you need 30% extra from a couple of your team members to cover a busy time, then you are better placed to offer them overtime to cover that, so just recruiting for the short term is better served with a short term contract. Sometimes you already have high performers in the team who are able to do more, you just need to give them a chance and as they know the business, they can do it at 20% of the cost, instead of the 30% you would pay a new person.

Finding a better way to manage your current resources more effectively is the first correct step. Recruitment is an expensive and often a lengthy step; on average it costs £ X K to recruit and train just 1 new employee into an organisation when it would cost much less to upskill an existing team member who has the right mindset and desire to improve not just themselves but to make a better difference to the organisation. Team expansion does not always equate to business growth or success.

This does not mean that an organisation should never recruit. Always know when to recruit. There is such a thing as natural attrition and succession planning. Time spent in a specific job role does tend to have an average “life-span”. Plan and regularly manage the lifespan in a role, which involves stages such as team-onboarding, progression, upskilling, managing shifts and much more. Know the capacity, skill-set, ability and desire of each individual within your team before heading for the recruitment option. On the other side of the coin, also know when it is better to bring in “new-blood” for a fresh perspective, new dynamics to the team and approach to the business. You don’t want to appear haphazard through fast recruitment to put out short-term fires neither do you want your team to become stale as teams often do, it’s a normal stage in the lifespan of any job role.

So when should you recruit? Here are a few times for when recruitment is the right option;

  • New Business coming in which is outside of the current capacity of your team
  • New / specific skill-set required not already available within the organisation and upskilling will take too much time to the detriment of business objectives and growth
  • Business expansion such as additional premises and so staff will be required to work at those locations rather than have travel between different locations
  • For cultural change: face it, often long-term employees maintain the status-quo. Change becomes undesirable to them as it can seem threatening, be outside of their comfort zone and because they become comfortable. They may even be “cruising to retirement”. Many an organisation has been known to bring in “new-blood” to redirect internal culture and vision for the betterment of the entire organisation. There are sometimes unfortunate and yet necessary “side-effects” of such changes to previous employees / leadership teams.