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Today’s episode is a direct reflection of a theme
I take notes during all of my weekly coaching accelerator calls – I listen to the questions, identify themes, and use that to drive my content and
One of the themes that comes up all the time is this question of who do I hire next, and how do I add to my team to build capacity.
So I want to talk about this messy process of figuring out exactly who do I need to hire next for this organization?
If hiring is top of mind for you, you can get my entire HR bundle, including model policies and templated documents in the areas of hiring, onboarding, compensation, performance management, and dispute resolution at richiebabbage.com/hrbundle
Ok, so I cannot emphasize this enough: role mapping and hiring is one of the most important elements of your sustainable growth. You won’t grow if you can’t get this right.
So I want to share a framework that I’ve developed – a way to think about figuring out your next right hire – that has helped me over the years I’m hiring, and that I use to guide
First, zoom out. Get clear about What is the work that needs to be done within the organization to move you in the direction of your strategic vision.
That will give you critical strategic insight – not just reactionary – into the data points that you need to make the next right hire.
Most people make the mistake of hiring new people to address the most urgent problems right in front of them – the challenges causing the most pain in real time. That may be important, but it’s often not strategic.
You avoid these mistakes by zooming out and getting clear about what the organization actually needs in order to grow and maintain stable capacity.
If you hire a bunch of people to help with immediate program needs but don’t invest in help to manage the payroll for all of the teaching artists that you’re employing, or to manage the 15 community partnerships that are vital to the organization’s role in the community, then you’re actually underinvesting in capacity over the long-haul even if your short term needs are being met. So you want to be intentional about calibrating short term urgency with longer term investment in the kind of staff capacity that will sustain you and support healthy growth.
One powerful question to ask as you think about this calibration: Where are there potential bottlenecks? If we were to double in size in the next 6 months, what would break?
So, once we know we need to zoom out, create a responsibility map. Some people call this a role map – basically a high level depiction of the roles that need to be filled at the organization. Like an ideal org chart if you were fully staffed the way you want to be.
But here’s the thing — Another mistake people make is hiring for titles or specific roles – we need someone to do social media and communications, so we’re going to hire a communications person. We need someone whose good at finances so we’re going to hire a finance person.
The problem with that is you can easily wind up with a bloated team, and people locked into sets of tasks that don’t accurately reflect the nuance of the work required, or the abb and flow of responsibilities.
So instead, map the responsibilities – or areas of work to be done within your organization first. Then organize those responsibilities into the roles that you need to fill. This will allow you to think about what you need without initially clouding your vision by thinking about a specific person in your org who already has a similar role, or about titles and positions you’ve seen in other orgs.
It also allows you to identify creative ways to organize the work when your team is small and capacity is limited. This process may invite space – or push you – to think about different staffing structures than you would have consider — temporary staff, consultants, constellations of part time, what can be handed to a board member, junior board, volunteer, etc..
As you identify and map responsibilities, make sure to think honestly and critical about your own role. If you’re an ED, you must bake yourself into this mapping process. You want to make sure you build into that assessment, a clear picture of the parts of your own work that should no longer be owned by you.
Ask: What low leverage tasks should you be letting go of to make room for fundraising, relationship development, and other high leverage tasks?
Also ask, at the same time: where is your zone of genus? What should you NOT let go of, even if it takes your time, because you are uniquely well positioned on your team to do this work?
I did an episode on the 3-list strategy for carving back your time on September 27th of last year, and I’ll include a link to that in the shownotes on my website. That will highlight what you should delegating and spreading around, which is particularly important to revisit and be honest about as the organization grows and your role changes.
Third, Once you have the responsibilities, organize and group them into roles. This is where you can start to see – who do we need to be hiring.
I recommend doing this on post-its because you can group things creatively. You may want to organize certain fundraising responsibilities with social media and that’s a role – like a dev and comms associate. The same fundraising responsibilities could be grouped instead with database entry and admin tasks, and that’s a totally different role – like an executive assistant. You could separate out the fundraising responsibilities and realize that they’re short term so you hire a consultant for 6 months.
You wan to create a map that reflects what YOUR organization needs.
Finally, once you have a clear picture of the roles you need to hire for, think about hiring for ownership rather than execution.
By this I mean, hire as high up in a workflow as possible. This is often a shift for growing organizations — the shift from hiring purely for execution, to hiring for ownership.
When we’re just starting out, when we’re early in our hiring, most of us hire purely for execution – people to get things done… But as you scale, you cannot “own” all of the workflows.
When you hire for execution, you are still ultimately accountable for the final outcomes and it quickly translates into you having a lot of people to meet with and manage.
Hiring for ownership means looking at entire workflows and hiring as high up in the workflow as possible. One director may seem more expensive in the short term, but a well hired director can own the work of 2 associates in the short term, as well as take work off your plate.
So that’s the framework for bringing some order to the messiness of figuring out your next best hire:
- Zoom out
- Map responsibilities
- Organize into roles
- Hire as much for ownership as possible
If capacity is a question for you, definitely check out my Roadmap to Growth: Capacity Assessment quiz to see where you stack up to core capacity benchmarks, and to get insight into where to focus to strengthen your capacity.
As a reminder, you can also get the HR bundle, including policies and documents in the areas of hiring, onboarding, compensation, performance management, and dispute resolution at richiebabbage.com/hrbundle
Have a great week.
HR Bundle: richiebabbage.com/hrbundle
Capacity Quiz: richiebabbage.com/nonprofitgrowthquiz
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