Having a growing business is a wonderful thing.

Unless you set out in the world to be a sole trader, expanding your business is everything you’ve ever dreamed of. You probably started off either on your own or with a few members of staff, and now you’re thinking bigger. Your local business is becoming regional – or perhaps your regional business is becoming national? After that point, there’s only one place left to go, and that’s global. Reaching the whole world from a humble beginning can happen in business – several household names started as garage businesses. To get there, though, you have to know when the right time is to take on new members of staff.

If this is your first time building up a business, knowing exactly when that sweet spot arrives isn’t easy. Hiring an additional member of staff is a gamble – you’re betting that they’ll make you more money than their salary costs you. Gambling can be fun when you’re playing slot machines, but less so when you’re putting the future of your company at stake. Even slots companies have to hire though – as they grow, they need additional people to handle customer services, and strategy, and game design. If anybody knows how to take a gamble, it’s a mobile slots company – which might be why they’re doing so well! In the case of you and your business, though, let’s look at some tell-tale signs which you should take as a cue to bring some new blood on board.

Someone Needs To Manage The Managers

For most companies, everything starts with one manager – probably you. As the company grows, more managers are hired to accommodate the growing number of staff, and those managers then report to you. When you only have two or three of them, this works well. You get to focus on ‘big picture’ issues, and they focus on getting the best out of the staff. Things start to fall down when you have multiple managers beneath you though – they’ll all want your time, they’ll all want different concerns addressing, and some of them will be performing better than others. If you can’t get your own job done because you’re constantly dealing with managers, you need to bring someone else in at management level. That means promoting someone from within and replacing them (after assessing whether you have anyone qualified enough to manage managers), or more likely bringing in an experienced manager from elsewhere.

Tension Levels Are Rising

If your company is successful and becoming more so, every member of staff you have will slowly be getting busier. This cannot carry on indefinitely without bringing in more staff. The problem is that not everyone will shout up when they need help. You need to keep an eye out for the warning signs. Your happiest, smiliest members of staff will suddenly stop smiling. Work queues will begin to get longer. Little things will start to slip through the cracks, and the quality of the work being done will level off, and then start to drop. For some reason, people are more inclined to drown in work quietly than shout up about it. Head the problem off at the pass by calling your senior staff in and asking them if they could do with more staff. If they so no, then insist that they inform you as soon as they believe the situation changes. Proactive hiring means happier staff. On top of that, it means things never become a burden – by the time the workload would otherwise have become unmanageable, the new member of staff should be fully trained and ready to pitch in.

There’s Too Much Overtime Being Logged

We’re going to make a controversial statement here:- if your staff is doing overtime regularly, you don’t have enough members of staff. Asking your existing staff to pull a few extra hours – and paying them handsomely for it – might seem like an easy way of dealing with a backlog problem. Sometimes it will be. What it doesn’t do is deal with the reason the backlog occurred in the first place. It’s also not an economically great idea for the long term. Overtime rates are often 150% or even 200% of your employee’s normal pay. If they’re working overtime several times per week, that will soon add up to more than the cost of bringing new staff in. An efficiently run office shouldn’t require any overtime at all. If you’re finding you have to ask people to work beyond their regular hours on a weekly basis – or even every two weeks – start recruiting for help.

People Are Working Below Their Level

Here’s a situation that’s far too common in sales offices:- Somebody completes a sale, and then has to step back from selling for the next couple of hours because they have to put the paperwork together. You didn’t hire your sales staff because they’re great at admin – you hired them because they’re great at sales. You probably wouldn’t want your admin staff doing sales work, so why are your sales staff doing admin work? If productivity is being hampered because your specialized staff is being bogged down by admin, you need more admin staff. Admin is a great entry-level job to take in someone talented, straight from education, and get them used to working in your company. If they show an aptitude for the job, you can promote them in a year and bring in another admin. It’s like having your own academy – and it means your specialized staff has more time to do the job you’re paying them for.

You’re Turning Work Away

This is a huge red flag. You shouldn’t even need us to tell you this, but a company that’s going places doesn’t turn work away without good reason. ‘We’re too busy’ is not a good reason. Telling customers you don’t have the capacity to take on their work is the same as telling them you’re small fry. The rejected customer will then tell all their friends that you’re small fry, and your reputation is damaged. Having your staff running at close to maximum capacity is a good objective. Having them actually running at maximum capacity, contrary to most work wisdom, is a bad thing. It means there’s no way for them to take on any additional work, and therefore there’s no way for you to grow or expand your customer base. If everyone is absolutely flat out, and you believe that you’d have to turn a big new client down if they came looking for you, it’s time to turn to recruitment. In fact, it’s probably time to go on a recruitment drive and bring in several people!

Article by Stuart Gentle on Onrec

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