Build Solid Legs on your 3-Legged Stool Before Hiring for Growth
Guest blog writer and RevOps Co-op member, Anastasiia Vasiutina is the Operations Manager and RevOps specialist with England-based job platform, Caroo. With the company’s daily focus on talent and staffing, she brings a specialized take on what to think about before integrating new people into an organization.
Wait, more people doesn’t necessarily lead to more output?
If we’re to trust maths alone, we make flawed assumptions:
The company has 5 people, producing X amount.
Add 5 more people and 2x will be the result. Right?
Not so fast, grasshopper. You’re talking about people and people don’t often fall into the finite regions of a maths equation.
When faced with growth and all the pain that comes with it, it’s natural to think hiring more people is the solution. But the maths will only lead to 2x the output if the five people currently on the team are firing on all cylinders, consistently meeting KPIs and targets, and utilising the most optimal processes with no revenue leakage or natural setbacks in sight.
“For me, successful growth rests on three pillars: people, process and tech. Get one element wrong and you’ve taken a leg out from under the proverbial three-legged stool.”
Now you’ve got a headache and your tailbone hurts.
“I believe that companies need to review these elements long before it’s time to consider hiring for growth. No employee is capable of hitting 100% every single day, but if they hit a solid average of 80%, and new team members can be integrated into the same systems for similar outcomes, hiring may be the way to solve the growth puzzle. If everything is working smoothly, you’re ready to add more talent.”
If things aren’t as smooth as they could be, consider these tips to assess that three-legged stool of yours and ensure it was made by a craftsman, not your uncle after too many scotches, with no screws and a faulty tape measure.
People: Use middle ground to measure success
We know that not all people perform at the same level. You’ll have superstars and you’ll have plodders. Set your growth model on a superstar and you’ll be disappointed by underachievement from other team members. And don’t forget the fact that your superstar can become your dependency.
If they leave – well – that stool we talked about? You know… you’re left rubbing your tailbone again, looking for a stack of books to prop it up.
It’s equally dangerous if you set growth models on a plodder. Here too, you’ll be disappointed, but this time you’ll be disappointed by the future models built on their performance.
To minimize the risk of being impacted by over and under-performers, you need to close the gap between them before you grow. The smaller the gap between the highest achievers and lowest achievers, the more stable and predictable your results will be and the more likely it is that what you’ve built is repeatable and scalable. And that’s what every revenue leader looks to build: repeatable & scalable growth.
People: Setting the right targets
If you resolve performance issues before adding people for growth, you strengthen the ‘people’ leg of the stool by creating repeatability. Additionally, looking at performance metrics means that you can objectively assess your whole team against the assumptions you’re making in your KPIs. If, in a team of eight people, only one hits KPI targets inconsistently, and you are still asking everyone to hit that target, not only are you demotivating your team, you’ve also learned that people aren’t the problem. Your targets are.
Management teams will need to scale targets back, explain to the board what was wrong and figure out how to make up the gains that were anticipated, but unachievable. This can be a painful scenario, however doing so will open everyone’s eyes to reality and ultimately strengthen your operation.
On the flip side, if everyone is always hitting 100% and more of their target, this is an indication that the targets might be too low.. This is much easier to deal with. Targets can become more ambitious and a little trial and error to get the right upper levels can be explored. This is a great time to get input from your team. How do they feel about these targets? Are they achievable? Or out of their reach?
People: Did you tell them what to do and how to do it?
One of the biggest issues that sees employees walk out in the first six weeks without so much as an “I’m outta here” is a lack of helpful onboarding and training. They are helping the uncle build the stool, but without the right wood, and they think they’re making a birdhouse. They haven’t got a clue. Onboarding is more than “your desk is here and the bathroom is across the hall. Good luck.”
To ensure your new hires stay put and perform at the same level as the rest of your team, provide the warmest of welcomes, and the most comprehensive training possible while asking for feedback along the way to make sure you are providing them with the value they need to succeed. Invest in their success
If you lack a comprehensive program, ask your current team what would have helped them in those early weeks of onboarding. Combine this with systems and product training, then add in meet and greets with other team members and industry training for a robust new-hire setup.
Process: Should the stool have round legs or square legs?
If your uncle bangs out three-legged stools but forgets the glue, there’s a process issue. Assess the processes to ensure they are working towards the outcomes that you need, especially when growth is in the cards.
Ask the team for input; their radical honesty is a huge gift. They will know inherently what makes sense and what doesn’t; where things fall down and why. If needed, let them help you rebuild the process around the business objectives and the team’s needs. Asking them to inform the future shape of the process also secures their buy-in.
Keep in mind that the process you choose has to be scalable. It should accommodate low volumes of work, and low headcounts as easily as all-hands-to-the-pump kind of months and large teams. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with the same wobbly stool before each growth spurt.
Tech: Does the stool even need legs?
Process and tech assessments go hand in hand. Here again, your team is likely to tell you where the tech is falling down. However, be careful not to throw the newest, shiny tech at problems that don’t even exist. Consider if it will become useful as you grow and find ways to implement it into today’s systems if it will.
Tech can require a lot of grunt work. While it’s normally the intended answer to valid management questions (time logging, or costs of marketing campaigns) if it’s a poor fit or users don’t see the value, it will create pain and pain means that stool starts to get tippy again. Either they won’t use the product or they’ll be taking time away from their main tasks. If the answers are needed, find solutions that automate rather than forcing a round stool leg into a square leg hole.
Go forth and build that stool! Just put the scotch down first.
You know your business better than most. Don’t let someone tell you whether or not you’re ready to hire. But if you think you are (or may be soon), look internally first and make sure you’re bringing new headcount into clean, efficient processes, optimized tech, and established high-performing teams.
You might even find that building a stronger stool allows you to achieve the growth you wanted without increasing headcount.