3 Steps to Consider Before Your Next Hire

If you don’t know your needs or can’t effectively train a new person, you may not be ready to hire.

By Genevieve E. Thayer
Genevieve Thayer
Genevieve Thayer

Whether you are looking to hire your first team member, or you have been hiring for some time, adding a new person to your group is an exciting milestone for a business owner.

As your book of business grows, the administrative demands, client meetings and compliance requirements multiply. The flip side to a flourishing business is the everyday stressors that come with that also multiply if you don’t have a well-trained and supportive team by your side to continue providing the exceptional service your clients have come to know and expect from you.

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on a first-time recruiting effort to provide a holistic bottom-up approach that may be helpful to you as you build your ideal team.

Step 1: ‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’ — Aristotle

Understanding the technical requirements for a position that you need to fill is undoubtedly important. Creating a list of must-have competencies helps you develop a vision for the new role. This could include previous experiences with certain processes, operations, compliance or technologies, to name a few.

Before you even begin to design the core aspects of the role, take some time to really think about you. Specifically, take an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. What is your management style, what is your temperament, and how do you prefer to navigate your communication style and preferences for how others communicate with you?

You’re freeing up your time by adding to the team, which means you can focus on the aspects of your work that you enjoy doing the most. Don’t love back-office follow-ups or rebalancing portfolios? Your newest team member can handle that for you. But wait: Before you send out that offer letter, deliberately think about who you are, who they are, and how they will add value to your team beyond their technical skills are just a few of the important considerations you must first think about.

Consider starting this process of “knowing yourself” by outlining your strengths and weaknesses on a simple sheet of paper or a Word document. If you have taken one or more of the big-name assessments available for businesses, take those out of your drawer and give them a good dusting, and reacquaint yourself with the information in each one. If you have more than one available, perhaps there are themes present in each one that provide an accurate picture of habits, behaviors and tendencies. How does the output of those reports correlate to your own list of strengths and weaknesses? Similar or not, taking into account both sets of data will be important.

Step 2: Don’t just hire for ‘the now.’ Keep the future in mind, too

It goes without saying that as a business owner, you need to stretch your dollars enough to maximize your resources, which includes your team. Recruiting someone who fits the role you need filled today is wonderful and certainly makes sense, but what potential skills or job role could this person fulfill five years from today? Cross training a new member of the team naturally creates a trajectory for them to grow and evolve with your business. For example, if you are hiring someone to start out as an assistant, do you see them growing into a different role or capability as your business scales up? Could she or he act in a management role to keep your office running smoothly in your absence, should you choose to spend more time out networking with prospects and centers of influence?

Turnover is costly for business. Hiring someone just for the now is a mistake that far too many businesses make. Creating an environment that encourages growth through licensing opportunities, sponsorship and mentorship cultivates a learning atmosphere for leveling-up and growing within a position.

Additional Reading: Identifying Your Ideal Client 

Step 3: Authenticity and honesty

Being your authentic self and demonstrating the culture and values of your organization are paramount. When looking to recruit, it is important that potential hires understand your values and how that translates into how your office is run internally and how you interact with your clients to deliver an optimal experience to them. Let’s take a closer look at what this means from a practical frame of reference.

Think of your communication style. Perhaps you prefer communicating electronically in short texts throughout the day. This may be useful to get your team moving quickly on something but perhaps you hire someone who is not as responsive via text or email. This is not an insurmountable hurdle, but it could take time to modulate their behavior to be more in line with company practices. If you struggle for many months with this breakdown, you might lose this person all together. You’ll also lose the time and money you spent training them and waiting for them to integrate fully into your business.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the turnover of one employee costs six to nine months of their salary to replace them. If you’re looking to hire someone at $60,000 per year, which is an average salary for an assistant in the Northeast, the cost for that loss is $30,000 to $45,000.

A tough decision

Be honest about whether you are ready to add another person to your team now. Yes, the addition of a new person would help you in many ways and allow you more time in your day to focus on revenue generating tasks. However, do you have the bandwidth to effectively train this new person and let them shadow you? This is where the honesty piece matters most.

An effective team is built around a solid infrastructure. Before you consider adding to your team, consider whether you must fill gaps in your systems, technology and management style to get up and running and ready for that new person. If you hire a person with the right technical and soft skills, but your business is not set up to effectively train and acclimate a new person into your business, you may not be ready for a new hire.

Genevieve E. Thayer is a cofounder of Beacon Partners, a consulting firm that helps mid-career independent financial advisors improve their financial planning and wealth management businesses. She served as an integral team member of several successful wealth management businesses during her nearly 20 years in the financial services industry.

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