10 tips on hiring staff: Should you hire higher?Article added by Jason Kestler on January 25, 2012
Jason Kestler

Jason Kestler

Leesburg, VA

Joined: August 15, 2009

The decision to hire is relatively easy. The real challenge is who to hire. Here are 10 points to keep in mind when it's time to hire staff.

There comes a time in every producer's career when he or she realizes they are not Superman or Wonder Woman — they can't continue to do it all on their own. In order to build your business and your income, you must begin to maximize the time you spend at your highest earning tasks. For most of us, that's face-to-face time with clients.

What is your time worth when you are face-to-face with clients — $500 an hour, $1,000 an hour or more? Why then, do you continue to do $10 an hour tasks?

If you had a full-time assistant and that person allowed you to spend just one more hour a week in front of clients, how much more money would you make next year? I suggest it would be significantly more than the cost of the position itself.

The decision to hire is relatively easy. The real challenge is who to hire. Here are 10 points to keep in mind when it's time to hire staff:

1. Network — Let people know you are hiring. If people are really good at what they do, chances are they won't be searching the classifieds for a job. Often, your perfect candidate is employed somewhere else but they may be unhappy with the commute, hate their boss or want more flexibility. You may be able to hire them before they ever go on the market.

2. Pay them fairly — Don't expect them to be excited about "sharing in the action." Pay a competitive salary and be sure bonus compensation — if you choose to pay it — is above and beyond. Handle withholding and taxes properly or outsource the task to a professional. Don't risk your business by paying under the table.

3. Define the position — Vice President in charge of "stuff" won't cut it. Know what you want to accomplish. List the skills required. Hire to your weaknesses. If you are helpless with computers, hire someone who is proficient.

4. Check references — Don't hire someone else's problem. How long have they kept jobs in the past? Why did they leave? Would their ex-boss rehire them?

5. What is their stratum capability? — What is your stratum capability? Although the idea of stratum capability is beyond the scope of this article, the concept can be boiled down to two key points:

a. Every prospective employee (and yourself) has inherent cognitive capabilities. These capabilities will control to a large degree their ability to perform certain functions. Each stratum has certain characteristics and based on someone's make-up, they are capable of some or all of these characteristics.

Cognitive capacity
DeclarativeCumulativeSerial Parallel
ExplanationUses a single reason to justify a position, a single cause to explain a result, or a single factor to solve a problemUses a group of reasons to justify a position or a number of factors combined to solve a problemUses a series of steps, each leading to the next, to solve a problemUses a number of series that are inter-related
ExampleA or B or C will lead to XA and B and C together will lead to XA → B → C → X and A → X is not a seriesX happens because A → B → C and D → E → F and G → H → I

Prospective employees will come in all cognitive capacities. If you are looking for someone who can multitask and solve complex problems, you should avoid the declarative type of personality. This type is good at single tasks and has a hard time making decisions. Try to choose a person with the proper cognitive capacity for the job.
b. Stratum capability is the ultimate potential of any employee. Although cognitive capacity plays a large part in someone's ultimate stratum capability, the ability to think and plan into the future is also a key trait. The further into the future one can plan and visualize, the higher their stratum capability.

Stratum capability
StratumPlanning Time FrameRoleCognitive Capacity*Earnings Potential
VIII50 to 100 YearsSuper Corp CEOParallel$5,000,000+
VII 20 Years OutCEO Serial$2,560,000
VI10 to 15 Years OutGroup EVPCumulative$1,280,000
V5 Years OutBusiness Unit Pres.Declarative$640,000
IV2 to 5 Years OutGeneral Manager Parallel$320,000
III1 to 2 Years OutDirectorSerial$160,000
II12 Months OutManagerCumulative$80,000
IUp to 3 Months OutFront LineDeclarative$25,000 - $44,000

One important factor to keep in mind is that it is extremely difficult to manage someone more than one or two levels below you. For example, if you are a stratum IV individual and hire a stratum I assistant, you will eventually drive each other crazy.

6. If you do hire the wrong person (or have already done so) do yourself (and them) a favor, and let them go. Keep in mind, however, that a stratum 1-capable person may have been perfect when you were starting out, but may not have grown along with your business. This does not mean that they are now the wrong person.

Perhaps you need to now hire a stratum 3-capable office manager who will report to you and supervise the stratum 1 employee. In the words of Jim Collins in his bestseller, "Good to Great," "Get the right people on the bus, get the wrong people off the bus, and get the right people in the right seats."

7. Get an outside opinion — Leverage your relationships with marketing organizations. Chances are that they have already dealt with similar situations. A second opinion on many of your business matters is free and may be beneficial to both of you.

8. Embrace technology — Technology in and of itself won't build your business; but when used properly, it can act as a lever to perform a large number of tasks with a minimal amount of effort. Tools like paperless document handling, contact management software, broadcast email and broadcast voicemail can all help to make your practice more efficient. Often, the right person, maximizing the use of the right software, can perform the tasks of three people.

Again, seek a mentoring arrangement with an experienced marketing company. They should be able to help in these areas. If they can't, keep looking.

9. Outsource where necessary — Throwing bodies at a problem doesn't always fix the problem — it often only makes matters worse. Selectively hire outside professionals to help in key areas for which you are not yet ready (or willing) to hire staff. Technology support, advertising, graphics design and direct mail may all work best when outsourced.

10. Consider using a placement service — Besides being very time-consuming, interviewing is a skill best left to the professionals. As salespeople, we are anatomically wired to sell ourselves and our business. This is counterproductive during an interview. The more you talk, the less you learn about the applicant. A professional will save you time by referring only qualified applicants and performing all the background checks. (Re-read point no. 9).

Staffing your business is one of the most critical decisions you will make as a business owner. Your staff is the face of your business to the outside world. When the right people are hired and trained thoroughly, they can allow you to perform your highest earning tasks more often. Hiring higher will allow your business to grow more rapidly than you ever imagined.
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