The last three organizations I worked for (a church I helped start, The Rocket Company, and now Church Fuel) all grew very fast.
That means we needed to hire people.
And in every case, our staffing needs outpaced our budget. That meant it was up to me to prioritize our needs and decide who to hire next. Should we fill this role now and hold off on that role? Or is that the right hire for us? If we can only fill one spot now, which one should it be?
Those were the kinds of questions I wrestled with on a weekly basis.
If you’re leading a growing organization, perhaps you need to hire someone. Maybe you need to hire several people.
Here is some advice on who to hire next.
#1 – Hire to your biggest opportunity, not your biggest pain.
In every organization, we had pains we wanted to eliminate and opportunities we wanted to pursue. If you don’t have the resources to do both, I recommend siding with growth.
Sure, it would be nice to have some administrative help, but you might be able to eliminate the pain by outsourcing. Of course, you need someone to take some things off your plate, but it’s likely more tasks would take their place.
That’s why (in most cases) you should look to hire for growth opportunities, not management.
In Axiom, Bill Hybles talks about plus side and minus side hires. In a church, plus side hire will be directly responsible for people coming to church. Plus side hires should result in growth. For example, a children’s pastor should help attract families with children to church. Minus side hires aren’t bad hires, but they don’t have a direct line to growth. They may facilitate it, but they don’t produce it. Bookkeepers are minus side people.
For churches, I would look honestly at what is bringing people to church already. Put your staff resources there. For businesses, once you have a core product, I would invest in people who can do sales and marketing. Those are plus side hires that will help you grow.
As you look to hire, ask yourself if the role will generate growth or if it will allow you to maintain.
#2 – Hire people according to a strategic plan.
Before you add anyone to the team, you need a really strong one-page business plan. You need to have a clear purpose, mission, and vision. You should have a simple and articulated strategy. You should know where you are going.
If you don’t have this, adding people to the mix will create more confusion. Without a good strategic plan, we hire people in response to a short-term need and then wonder what to do with them when that need is gone. Without a good strategy, we hire generalists who are good people and who can help us, but fail to give them measurable outcomes that truly matter to the entire organization.
Your purpose, mission, strategy and goals should inform who you should hire next.
#3 – Don’t hire people to do what volunteers (or freelancers) can do.
There will always be more to do than staff to do it. That’s why investing in volunteers and leaders is a wise thing to do. Before you hire someone, make sure you have maxed out your volunteer leadership development plan.
There are people in your organization with incredible capacity. They could take on more. They could accomplish more. 9 times out of 10, a high-capacity volunteer will bring so much more value to the table than a part-time staff member.
In the business world, I’d advise against hiring a team member (and dealing with all the complications that come with that) to do what a qualified freelancer can do. Yes, there will be times when you need a dedicated employee, but in thinking big, don’t miss out on thinking small.
#4 – Make sure the role is on firm ground.
Before you hire someone, make sure the position is clear. You need a job profile, describing the kind of person you’re looking for. This takes a lot of work. You also need a clear job description, with measurable outcomes built right in. If you don’t have this, don’t go looking for someone.
But beyond clarity or role, you need to make sure your entire organization is set up and prepared for the new person. There will be meetings, new communication loops, and additional confusion every time you bring in someone new.
A lot of churches scrape some money together to hire a part-time person (or a really underpaid and overworked full-time person). So many times, that person isn’t set up for success. The church would have been better off waiting and funding the position at a higher level.
Make sure your business can pay for the position and all the things associated with it. Even a plus side hire will take the time to get up to speed and start paying for themselves. You need to make sure you can support the new person in every way imaginable.