Be ready to tell the story of what happens if you don’t get more resources.
Q: How do I evaluate and make the case for hiring, particularly in an organization where they love to squeeze blood from a stone? My team is working long hours and I’m worried about burnout and maintaining quality.
—Katie, 46, managing director, retail-focused organization
A: Direct your pitch to your decision-maker’s most compelling problem and prepare thoroughly for the inevitable objections.
Your first step is to lay the groundwork through a careful analysis of the current situation. Assess your capacity with the business volume you currently have, looking person by person at their ability to take on additional work.
Then, determine whether you have optimized your existing staff. Look for situations where highly experienced people are doing junior level tasks, or where junior people are burning through hours trying to do something they are not trained for.
Situations like these are inefficient and can add substantial costs, plus they are frustrating to employees.
If you are truly understaffed, then this type of optimization will be of only marginal benefit, but will be necessary to share as part of your business case for hiring.
Next, go into problem solving mode. Learn everything you can about your executive team’s vision, goals, and current pain points. If you can use your team to help your executives sleep better at night, your case for hiring just got a big boost.
That said, you will need to lay out a compelling case. For example, your company may be in cost containment mode because customers are dissatisfied and sales are down. You could use the approach that upgrading the customer experience through additional resources would increase return business.
Be specific about how this would play out. In the example above, if all the team is able to do is to meet the basic customer requirements, increasing staffing levels and perhaps adding greater expertise may allow you to deliver at the customer delight level.
Do your homework on having solid numbers and return on investment. Try to get to a statement such as, “if we add two mid-level staff, we can serve X more customers for an estimated gain of X dollars in revenue.” Also use customer comments to support your case. Include opportunity cost and risk analysis, and develop a high-impact, one-page summary of the quantitative analysis to make your point.
Be ready to tell the story of what happens if you don’t get more resources. Will you have to turn away business? Outsource or use contractors? If so, document the cost for that. And, if that’s more palatable to your leadership because it’s not an ongoing cost, figure out how you can make that work.
Get your communications ready. Keep your focus on solving problems, reducing risk, and helping your company succeed. Have materials targeted to the audience in terms of detail and message, being sure that everything reinforces the same key point.
None of this helps if it isn’t heard. What have you observed about people who effectively get their way in your firm? Are they rule followers? Or do they sometimes go outside of official channels? Be savvy about your company culture and figure out the best way to get your case heard without burning bridges.
Submit questions to Liz Reyer at email@example.com.