Finding the right people
When a small company grows, managers must take on many new roles. Besides the day-to-day running of the business, they find themselves responsible for, among other things, relations with outside investors, increased levels of cashflow and, hardest of all, recruitment.
For most managers of small and medium-sized enterprises, the job of searching for, interviewing and selecting staff is difficult and time-consuming. (0) ... .G... . Interviewing, for example, is a highly skilled activity in itself.
'We have found the whole process very hard,' says Dan Baker, founding partner of a PR company. 'In seven years we have grown from five to eighteen staff, but we have not found it easy to locate and recruit the right people.' (8).........As Dan Baker explains, 'We went to one for our first recruitment drive, but they took a lot of money in advance and didn't put forward anybody suitable. In the end we had to do it ourselves.'
Most recruitment decisions are based on a pile of CVs, a couple of short interviews and two cautious references. David Rowe, a business psychologist, studied how appointments were made in five small companies. He claims that selection was rarely based on clear criteria. (9).........This kind of approach to recruitment often has unhappy consequences for both employers and new recruits.
Small companies often know what kind of person they are looking for. (10)......... According to David Rowe, this means that small company managers themselves have to devote more time and energy to recruitment. It shouldn't be something that is left to the evenings or weekends.
Many companies start the recruitment process with over-optimistic ideas about the type of person that will fit into their team. 'It's very easy to say you must have the best people in the top positions,' says Alex Jones, managing partner of an executive recruitment company. 'But someone who is excellent in one company may not do so well in another environment.(11).........You can never guarantee a successful transfer of skills.'
Whatever the candidate's qualifications, their personal qualities are just as important since they will have to integrate with existing members of staff. This is where, the recruitment industry argues, they can really help.
According to Alex Jones, 'A good recruitment agency will visit your company and ask a lot of questions. (12).........They can ask applicants all sorts of questions you don't like to ask and present you with a shortlist of people who not only have the skills, but who are likely to fit in with your company's way of doing things.'
A finance director in a big company, for example, will often make a terrible small company finance director because he or she is used to having a team doing the day-to-day jobs.
B More often than not, the people making the choice prioritised different qualities in candidates or relied on guesswork.
C Recruitment would seem an obvious task to outsource, but the company's experience of recruitment agencies was not encouraging.
D They need paying for that, of course, but you will have them working for you and not for the candidate.
E They are usually in very specific markets and the problem they face is that recruitment agencies may not really understand the sector.
F This means that companies cannot spend more than the standard ten minutes interviewing each applicant.
G Yet few are trained and competent for all aspects of the task.