Staffing for SMEs: Getting the Right-fit and Retaining Them
As an entrepreneur, one of the toughest decisions you would have to make is staffing. We all desire to see our businesses grow beyond micro-level of sole-proprietorship; it is important to hire people to perform certain functions in the business as we scale-up.
Hiring the right-fit goes beyond announcing vacancies and screening CVs, it also goes beyond interviewing candidates. Staffing is about getting the right candidates that can understand the vision of your business, imbibe its culture and values while adding value through their skill-sets, expertise, knowledge and experience. It is about recruiting dependable and loyal staff who understand that company growth and their individual career development are mutually exclusive.
Here are 5 stages involved in hiring the right-fit staff:
1. Determine the Organisational Structure, Reporting Lines and Delegation
This is very important in staffing. A well-defined organizational structure is needed to show the chain of commands and reporting lines. It will help your employees understand hierarchy for a possible escalation of customer-related issues and other matters that may come up in the discharge of their duties.
No matter how small your business is, as soon as you decide to employ people to work with you, it is important to operate with a defined operational structure. Structure enhances effective business communication and free-flow of operational processes for faster business growth. It also makes the delegation of duties easier and faster.
2. Create Departments and Units for Easy Work-flow
Having units/departments aid the smooth running of daily business activities and helps employees work within their expertise and skillsets, thereby contributing more to the growth of the business. It also creates an opportunity to monitor performances of every staff, as working in a small unit exposes individual strengths, weaknesses and competencies. Through the units, you can also determine the true state of your business: growing or stagnant.
The types of departments vary from one business to another, depending on the daily operational processes. For example, a service-based business would not need a Production department or a Quality Control unit. However, there are three important needs of every business under which departments and units should be created. They are as follows:
Sales and Marketing: Every business exists to generate sales; in fact, the end gain of every business is to sell. Without sales, a business cannot survive; hence, the sales & marketing department is a must-have for every business. The sales team are saddled with the responsibility of promoting the business, its products/services for brand awareness and customer acquisition. They are expected to attract customers that will buy the company’s products.
Operations: The operation department ensures the business fulfils its value proposition to customers. Employees recruited into this department need to know they are the eyes of the business: the first point of access between the organisation, its customers, stakeholders and the public. They are to ensure quality service delivery and customer satisfaction that would enhance customer loyalty.
Finance and Admin Department: Charged with the responsibility of keeping record, of finances (income and expenses), this department is a necessity for every small business. The proper keeping and maintenance of all business assets and facilities is also the responsibility of employees in this department.
3. Define the Roles, Competencies and Skills
The first stage of recruiting a competent workforce is to define roles in line with your business structure. Defining roles should not be about big job titles but about the specific functions to be performed by the employee in the day-to-day running of company processes. Defining the roles in terms of expected competencies, qualifications, skills, experiences and individual abilities that would fit such roles, should be paramount in every recruitment process. The easiest way to achieve this is by asking the question “who is the right candidate for this role?’’. Your answer should serve as a guide to your search for employees to fit the role.
Many SMEs fail to spell out job descriptions and roles in clear terms when staffing. This has been the cause of major staff-related problems they encounter. As important as a proper job description is, however, it cannot be compared with ensuring that people recruited for such jobs are competent, efficient, loyal with an understanding of company values, visions and mission; and a readiness to uphold company culture in the discharge of their duties.
This is a crucial stage in staffing. As an entrepreneur, you should never be sentimental when hiring employees because one bad apple can spoil the lot. A sluggard, dishonest or incompetent employees can ruin the business you have struggled to build within a short period of time. Stories of employees stealing the company blind, setting up parallel businesses to compete with their employers after learning their trade secrets are common. Thus, you need to get it right.
In my experience consulting for SMEs, I have realised that human resources professionals better do recruitments with the supervision of the business owners. You cannot afford to sacrifice the growth by recruiting incompetent family members, townsmen, and fellow members of your religious sect. It’s difficult to fire someone you are sentimentally attached to, especially when they start taking your relationship with them for granted.
Many small business owners are usually in a dilemma on whether to train their staff or how much they should commit to such training.