SCORE Small Business Blog

HR: The Art of Hiring

Key Practices for Small Business Employee Growth

I started my company a few years ago as a solo venture. I knew I had the skills and resources to be successful on my own, but the business’ rapid expansion made employee growth imperative.

All small business owners hope to consistently generate enough revenue so their business can continue to expand. Vital to any company’s growth is staffing the best possible team of individuals. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, understanding the Art of Hiring is essential. I have learned that I don’t need an advanced degree in Human Resource Management to assemble a great team. My company has thrived because of three simple yet effective hiring practices.

1. Assembling the “A Squad” – When putting together a senior team, diversity is key.
We’ve all heard that any boss is only as good as her assistant, but compiling the right management team is just as important. Ideally, you will hire individuals that have diverse business experiences and perspectives. When putting together your ideal senior team, always be honest and mindful of your own knowledge and experience gaps.

Hire associates that bring significant expertise and know-how in different facets of the business. It’s no use hiring someone with the same background as you or someone with the same resume of one of your other employees. The diversity of experience and personality will bring different viewpoints to the table and support the growth of your company.

Personally, I have always had a fly-by-the-seat-of–my-pants, gregarious work style. While this works for me, it means I need someone beside me to focus on the numbers and the million tiny details. I hire with this in mind.

2. All Egos Aside – Find people who are willing to give and get feedback.
In a small and nimble company, you need people who can check their egos at the door. You must cultivate a group of people that are willing to give and take criticism/feedback. The old adage holds true – time is money; the time wasted managing egos in a meeting could be time spent generating more business for the company. No one wants to waste time because associates are unwilling to listen or compromise with one another. Of course, in interviews, everyone will claim to be a great listener — so pick up on cues to see if you agree. See if candidates ask insightful questions that indicate how they’ll perform as part of the team.

Most small businesses don’t have HR departments or formal performance management systems – our associates learn skills, expertise and maturity by working and interacting with each other (and giving / receiving honest feedback). Make sure your people can develop and thrive in such an environment, and that they can help their colleagues do the same.

3. The Fit Model – Going with your gut instincts.
At the end of the day, let your gut instincts guide your hiring decisions. You probably already know the types of people with whom you collaborate best. Meyers Briggs and DiSC profiles can provide you personality assessments and classifications, but you are the only one who knows intuitively the types of people you want in your employ.

The key is to make sure all the pieces fit together. What might look great on paper may not work in reality. The best education in the world can’t teach you how to trust your instincts, but you should never ignore them. In the end, if it doesn’t feel right to you, it won’t be right for your company.

These few practices have served me well as an entrepreneur. There are no hard-and-fast rules to the “Art of Hiring,” but adherence to these concepts will surely benefit your business.

Margaret Young, Mills Square Group, Inc. 
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Discussion (2) Comment

  1. It’s hard to trust your “baby” with someone else, but knowing how to build and nurture a good team will alleviate some of the stress and help you transition from sole proprietor to growth and success.

  2. JohnVisitor

    You mention that small businesses don’t have an HR department and that can really slow down the hiring process. Everyone is focused on their core responsibilities and, typically, there is a “deputized” HR lead that has to manage the process. A good way to simplify the process is using The Resumator


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