So you're ready to hire. It's true you need more staff; your desk is a testament to that. You are overwhelmed with the multitude of demands on your time and you need help. But don't place that employment ad yet!
Preparing to hire is like preparing to paint; all the work is at the front end. Once you have picked out the color, laid down the drop cloth, gathered your supplies, taped off your lines, spackled, sanded, dusted and washed, you are finally ready to paint. The actual painting is the easy part by comparison.
Similarly, there are a number of steps you must go through before adding key personnel. Each step has its nuances. While organizational planning and assessing organizational readiness isn't formulaic, you can prepare much more easily with an outline to guide you through the process:
A bird's eye view.
If you need to hire more staff, chances are good that your organization is at a crossroad. Before you hire a fit for what the organization has been in the past, you may find that now is the perfect time to envision the organization you will be in the future. You may find that you aren't sure where your organization is going and that you need a strategic planning process. If your organization already has a strategic plan in place or has specific goals for the future, consider how this position fits into that plan. What function or goal will this position help achieve?
Doing your homework.
How does this position's function fit in with the overall structure and goals of your organization? Does this staffing choice further the goals or plan? What goals would the new hire have that dovetail with the goals already in place? Define specifically what this person will do. Benchmark the position to determine what it is likely to demand in salary and benefits. Define the results you want to see from this position, whether it's revenue goals or softer measurements such as increased public awareness. Do a cost benefit analysis. Will this position create revenue, or will this position free up others to create more revenue? If this person will require training on the front end immediately after being hired or will generate revenue, make sure you allow ample time for seeing a return on your investment.
Gather the key players.
Anyone who is vitally involved with your organization should be invited to participate in helping define the position. Consider inviting selected board members, volunteers, key staff, major donors, community partners, key stakeholders and outside funding agencies. Don't make the gathering unwieldy, but make sure all groups who will be affected by the hire are represented.
Make your case for hiring a new position and allow others to express their opinions. You'll want to talk about how the position fits with the long-term plans of your organization and why the timing is good to make this hire. Having an experienced facilitator can help everyone remain on task and focused on the purpose of the meeting. A facilitator can also pull together all the information in a useful format that is easy to understand and implement.
Create a search strategy.
Once the input is received and all parties are excited about the potential for this position, many questions will remain. Who will be responsible for hiring? How will we provide administrative support for the hiring process? What is the time frame for the search? What is the salary range? What are the characteristics of an ideal candidate? How will your organization spread the word about this opportunity? Will you use a search firm or conduct the search in-house? This strategy, complete with tactics and timelines, should be created and shared with the input committee with an opportunity for additional input and suggestions.
Now you are finally ready to begin. . .