20
Getting the right staff
Deciding when to take on an employee is a delicate balancing act. On the
one hand, if you increase your stafng levels, you might not be able to
cover increased costs straight away. On the other hand, extra manpower
could free you to spend more time on other activities, such as marketing or
planning, which should, in the end, mean increased prots.
A useful rule of thumb for choosing the best time to increase your staff is
to ask yourself if you can generate enough extra sales to cover the cost of
taking on that extra employee. If you will not be able to increase your sales
straight away, you could still employ someone; but, in this case, you will
need to be able to keep your business going until you have been able to
build your sales up to the new level you need. It all sounds straightforward,
but in practice it is very tricky. It is like being on a seesaw. One step in the
wrong direction can tip the balance against you.
If you are clever enough, or lucky enough, to get your timing right, you
will not want to throw away your advantage by employing the wrong
person. The whole process can take several months, so nding you have
made a mistake and having to recruit again can throw your business off its
planned course. Nor should you underestimate the emotional problems of
getting rid of an unsuitable employee, which can unnerve the toughest of
businessmen or businesswomen and unsettle other employees.
What is in this chapter?
This chapter looks at how to recruit. It should help you to answer these
three questions:
20
n
Getting the right staff 223
1 Do I know what I’m looking for?
2 Will I recognize it when I see it?
3 Can I make sure that, if I offer the job, it will be accepted?
There are sections on the job that needs doing (p. 223), the employee you
want (p. 225), getting the right person to apply (p. 230) and interviewing
(p. 235). The cost of employing staff is covered on p. 239.
The job that needs doing
Before you plunge into adding that extra employee, look carefully at the
work to be done. It is very important to sort out in your own mind what the
job entails. Once you have done this you can dene the person you need.
If you fail to do this preparatory work, you might nd yourself employing
someone who is not capable of doing the work. This list of topics might
help you to organize your thoughts about the job:
n
level of skill: when you decided you needed an extra pair of hands, was
it because you needed work done that you did not feel competent to
carry out yourself? Does the work require a special skill?
n
training: if you have the skill to do the job, but not the time, would it
take a lot of training to employ someone without that particular skill
and teach them on the job? Would you have the time to carry out
that training?
n
length of time: do you estimate that this extra work will need doing
for a long period of time? Or is it a temporary bulge? Watch out
for mistaking a backlog of work that can be cleared up quickly for a
permanent increase in activity.
n
how much extra work: can you quantify how much time will need to be
spent by someone to carry out the work? Is it a full working week? Do
not assume that if you nd the work difcult and time-consuming,
because it is outside your range of skills, a skilled employee will take
as long.
n
experience: do you think the job requires a lot of experience? Would the
employee need to be able to make independent judgements? Or is it
intended that the work will be closely directed by yourself or another?
n
responsibility: how much responsibility will the employee have? Will
the employee be required to man the ofce alone? If the job is selling,
will the person be required to go out selling unsupervised? Will the

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