Hiring: What to Think About at the Business Planning Stage

by David Skews

An organisation may consider many things as of particular value to their business – such as, reputation, market exposure, industry leadership, intellectual property etc – but the one thing on which all of these depend is top quality staff.

Whether one or many people, your team have the potential to make or break your business. Consequently, identifying, recruiting and retaining the best people is a top priority as soon as a business begins to grow beyond a one-man band.

Many businesses are started by just one person with the drive and enthusiasm to grow the business. Invariably those people also possess other business skills, but never every skill that is needed. Consequently, brutally honest self-assessment is needed to identify significant shortcomings, which will then help in deciding the additional skills needed.

Such self assessment will inevitably require input from other trusted and respected people. Some shortcomings are best addressed by outsourcing tasks, which can be a lot less hassle than employing people directly. However, eventually, it becomes necessary to actually hire people to fill the gaps.

When hiring, it’s good to have some firm priorities in mind before interviewing. For example, integrity should always be at the top of the list. The most experienced and capable candidate will become a serious liability if they cannot be trusted. Absolute integrity can never be guaranteed but it should be a primary aim.

For a start-up business, demonstrable expertise is also a high priority since there isn’t the time or finance for extensive training. Finally, attitude and personality are important for a harmonious working relationship. Again this may be difficult to assess but having someone else present during the interview can be helpful – not formally part of the interview but perhaps working in the same room and able to interact before or after the interview in a less formal setting when the interviewee is more relaxed.

Finally there is the matter of motivation and reward. The temptation is to offer whatever salary it takes to hire the right person. The problem with this approach, however, is that it attracts people whose primary motivation is financial reward, which means they can be easily attracted away from you by anyone who has slightly deeper pockets. It is far better to attract people who are also motivated by non-financial rewards.

Salary will always be a major factor but it should only be part of the reward package. Other possible attractions may include a working environment that offers more opportunity to make a real difference, or the very nature of your business may itself be an attraction. Some organisations offer early employees equity in the business as part of their remuneration. As far as possible, try to offer rewards that few other businesses are offering so that people who are attracted by them are likely to find fulfilment that they cannot easily find elsewhere. Keep in mind that whatever lure you use to attract talent to your business can also be used by other businesses to attract them away from you.

david skews profileDavid Skews is a businessperson called to mission. In 1989, he established EDP Health Safety & Environment Consultants Ltd performing the role of CEO as he led EDP through sustained growth for over 25 years in both the UK and Asia. In 2004 he fully engaged in business as mission, as well as continuing to lead his business. Since then, David has focused his efforts into training entrepreneurs in Asia and Africa, and speaking internationally on business for good. He has also helped lead a mission agency through the process of embracing missional business. Today, he acts as a non-exec director for six successful BAM businesses and is part of the Advisory Board for BAM Global. David transitioned out of his business in 2015 and into new BAM fields! David is married to Lesley and is based in the UK.

David serves as a regular mentor for the Ask a BAM Mentor column and is a member of the website Editorial Board.


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