Having the right people in the right place is vital for any business. They’re your biggest expense and your biggest asset. Getting it right is hard, but if you do get it right, your business will soar.
“HR has been the single biggest problem and the single biggest benefit to us in the last five years,” says Nutbourne Managing Director Marcus Evans. “You need to have the right people in the organisation or it doesn’t work.
“What you’ll find is, the wrong person put into a team can completely change its dynamic. You don’t realise this until you put one wrong person into a team that up until that point had been functioning very well. That team starts not to work so well – and that’s why recruitment is so important to get right.”
Getting it right is tricky, and as you move from small to medium, the playing field changes. Recruitment is less of an issue when you’re small because you have a good narrative – we’re small, we’re niche, we’re taking on the establishment – when you’re medium you’ve achieved that.
“You find yourself competing against other known companies for employees. It’s a different challenge. The calibre of employees you need changes – you want someone that has a level of experience similar to where your organisation will be in two years. Those people are aware of the challenges and can help your growth. In that respect, HR becomes very important.”
“Getting recruitment wrong wastes everyone’s time. If you have someone who fails probation, and if they have been well managed in that time, you have made a hiring mistake. Some of these mistakes are inevitable, but this is why an interview process needs to be stringent. We hire one person for every eight first round interviews we do. For second rounds it’s one in four.
“We screen people out in a tough way so that the risk of a bad hire is minimised. If you do get a bad hire, get them out as quickly as possible. This minimises the time spent with them, and allows you to recruit that role again, but better. A bad hire that fails a three-month probation wastes five months of time, one month to recruit them, their three months in the role and one month to hire a new person. If you have too many of these the business won’t be able to cope with it.”
The change in business dynamic also gives rise to another problem, namely that some of the people you had in the company when it was growing aren’t suited to it now that you are a medium company.
“That comes with an HR burden,” Marcus adds. “You need to get the wrong people out of the business with the minimum disruption to the business itself, and getting the people who are doing ok to where you want them to be. There’s a whole series of skills and processes there, that as a small company you don’t know you need until you need them.
“The other thing a small company should be good at is retasking. If you see someone who is doing well, or who has skills another department needs, don’t be afraid to change their focus. Sometimes you need to move people around, and if they are the right person they may help you in a number of roles.
“Therefore if they look like they might better suit a harder role to fill or one you have struggled to recruit for, it might be worth changing them and filling their old role, if it is an easier one to recruit for.”