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How to avoid hiring for a role you don’t need

By Samm Green, Co-Founder and Director of Few&Far

Whether a scaleup or an SME growing organically, there comes a time when you need to look at scaling your team. From the outside looking in, it seems easy. We hear about tech companies bringing on numerous people at the same time to fulfill a host of exciting and challenging roles. But something we discuss less, which is vital at this stage, is how to make sure you’re hiring for a role you actually need. 

Scaling doesn’t have to be done at the speed of sound 

As exciting – and stressful – as your fundraise might be, there is no obligation that the day the money clears you have to go and prove to everyone you know what you are doing.

Being able to say you are growing and hiring doesn’t always mean you are doing it right. The companies that do hire on fund day, will have planned long before what roles they are hiring for and quite possibly, who they want to fill them with. 

Whether recently funded or on the journey to be, take this moment to pause and take stock. Work out where you want your company to be in one, two or even ten years, don’t just try and get the biggest name.

In all likelihood, you are pulling in this funding for being good at what you do, having a plan and because people who know what they are doing have faith in you and your team – so do right by them, and don’t be afraid to ask them for their input.

Tap into the expertise available to you through your current and even future investors, the community or entrepreneurial groups. If you struggle, bring in a consultant to help you determine the roles you really need.

Once you know where you want your company to be in the future, you will have an idea of how to get there. With these goals in mind, talk to your team and work out what role helps you get to the next stage and the subsequent stages. 

Set goals for all

These are the goals that you want to hit over the coming year, in Gino Wickman’s book Traction, these are broken down as quarterly achievable stepping stones or, ROCKS.

They are a subset of Smart Goals that are attainable and concrete. Setting ROCKS, alongside an organisation chart, where you map the main roles of the firm, what peoples’ tasks are and how they support each other, will highlight what is missing but also guide the personal goals of your colleagues. 

And, set goals for them

Through well thought out OKRs and an organised reporting process, you have a golden opportunity to help your hires hit the ground running. 

As with all team members, the new hires need goals but the very beginning of their time with you is where you set the system in place.

Pre-write a 90 day plan for your new colleague and sit down with them on day one to go over it, being open to discussion and amendments. After this session you will have a 90 day plan that is understood by both parties that allows you and them alike, to be clear on their direction. 

With this, no matter how much freedom you allow your team on a daily basis, everyone is feeding into the bigger picture and developing each other by association. When you get to that level of guidance and trust, you are well on your way to scaling a happy, loyal team. 

Get the contract right

Don’t leave yourself open to a problem. Ensure you have scope in your contracts to decide if things aren’t right. A good probation period and clarity on role is key from the off.

You might be taking on Google and Microsoft one day, but right now you are still lean, agile and exciting, and your contracts need to allow for this.

Make sure that it is clear that there will come times where other roles and responsibilities will be expected of people that might not be in the original job spec. This is that extra bit where they can step up and go beyond requirements, this is exciting for most, it’s the fun bit where you can really have each others’ backs.

Mistakes will be made, but the big picture is one of growth and improvement 

You will get it wrong. Nobody gets it right 100% of the time, especially when hiring is new, but with that you will learn a huge amount from your mistakes. 

If you bring in great talent, make sure you are supporting them. Keep them interested, keep them motivated in the mission of the company. Culture plays a vital role in ensuring fantastic people stay with you. It’s not about a barista and a coffee table, it’s intangible.

People, vision, mentality, and structure help shape a culture, so make sure you invest the right time getting that part right – and you’ll find yourself in a fortunate situation with a happy, productive team and an appeal to future employees.