Guest contributor Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, speaker, and executive with expertise in human capital. Launching a new Women Grow Business series on human resources for small business, Patricia is founder of Strategies for Human Resources. She helps small to mid-size organizations achieve their goals through more effective human capital strategy and management. And she can be reached through her website SHRinsight.com, where archives for her ongoing management series can be found.
The tough call
The decision about whether and when to add staff is always a tough one. And these economic times make it more emotionally charged. But you have work to do and need to be smart, so that you continue to succeed and grow. Getting the help you need to do so is critical. I have seen the problems created by hiring too many, too soon, and without critical analysis. But those created by not hiring and continuing to do tasks that reduce your ability to grow your company or by hiring without good planning and on the cheap are as bad.
So how do you decide when or whether to hire?
#1. Is the need actually long term and at the core of my business?
In this case, an employee may be the best bet. Example: if you are a small insurance agency, a part time or full time administrative person can free your time significantly to get new business. And you may want the person in your office if you have customers who come in regularly or business clients who need immediate support or to maintain data security easily.
#2. Would out sourcing be worth considering?
Even with a core mission and long term need, you may want to consider other options. Some functions are more easily outsourced due to the technical nature of the work or the need for constant personnel/equipment upgrading. IT services and payroll processing come immediately to mind, but others that are critical to your success may also be in this category. Functions may also be done by a contractor, such as an accounting or legal firm or a virtual assistant.
#3. Is the need for a specific period of time?
Such work, whether for a brief period or many months, may be most effectively done by hiring a temporary directly or via a temporary staffing agency.
#4. Does the work require expertise you don’t have but can learn or maintain?
Here you may consider hiring a management or specialized consultant or a freelancer, depending on the type of work, project demands, and time. My own work exemplifies this. Often I help a client solve a critical issue in human resources when they do not have the expertise & and teach them to maintain and manage a process I have created for their needs.
Sticky issues and more
Frequently I provide external advice and perspective on a sticky issue that is frustrating a CEO. I come, I assist, I depart & all without long term addition to their costs. But there are also times when a part-time employee, an interim or project executive, or borrowing expertise from a vendor or a firm you know well are options worth considering. And when you do decide that the needs of your business are such that a regular full-time employee is the best bet, be smart.
Look at the challenges the position is designed to address and keep the work focused. Seek out the best possible employee for your needs.
And don’t throw time and money away going for the cheapest either.