Appropriately staffing your business is an ongoing struggle.
With 2.3% of the workforce being made redundant each year, it’s clear that business are fighting an ongoing battle to find the right balance in their teams.
If your team is too big, your wages will be too high, and your staff won’t have enough meaningful work to keep them engaged. If you have too few staff, your team will be overworked, unable to meet demand and eventually your staff will churn. Either way, your productivity and efficiency will suffer – so scaling correctly is important.
What is Scaling?
Scaling is the process of sizing an aspect of a business up or down in response to demand. In the case of scaling teams, it refers to increasing or decreasing the headcount. This is based on the activity required to meet market demand for the goods or services a business provides.
Why is finding the right size so difficult?
On the surface, scaling issues are questions of demand and return on investment. Put simply, if your business can’t meet demand then your team is too small. If it can’t produce enough revenue to cover wage costs, then the team is too big.
Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule about finding balance in scaling up or down.
The considerations must take into account the skill sets of the existing team, and those that are missing, the style of business you are running as well as, the market rate of a particular kind of employee versus the return your business would see from using someone of their level.
So, what sorts of things should you be asking yourself before deciding to add another member to your team?
Do you need a bigger team?
There are only a few instances scaling up with someone new to your team will, overall, add value to your business – they can be examined in two ways.
1) Is there a skill set you are missing?
Does your business require an understanding or ability that is doesn’t already have? Are you moving into a market that operates in a different language? Do you find the retainer you have with the lawyer, designer or PR agency more costly than bringing someone in-house? Do you need someone with more expertise to craft strategy, rather than just execute activities?
If you’re lacking a skill you have a demonstrated need for (and you can’t outsource it cheaply) then you should consider whether you need to add someone to your team.
2) Are your staff at capacity?
Overworked staff become exhausted and resentful, or worse, resign – causing huge productivity backlogs, so it is in a business’ best interest to ensure staff workload is manageable.
If the staff that you have offer all the skills your business needs but can’t keep up with the workload, you might need more staff – but you also might have an efficiency issue.
Examine if there are procedures that can be improved to make the workload easier to manage. Once you’ve eliminated these problems, then you can investigate your options around building out your team.
Do You Just Need Smaller Expectations?
Once you decide your staff are at capacity despite efficient procedures, it’s important to ensure the work you think you need, is work that actually contributes to the success of your business.
1) Are you prioritising appropriately?
Are your staff at capacity because your demand is high or are they struggling with the workload because they have not been given realistic deadlines? Consider the speed and regularity with which you’re asking results to be delivered. Where possible, adjust these to come into line with the reality of when tasks need to be completed.
2) Are you responding to demand or desire?
Do the tasks your team are struggling with really contribute to delivering results?
– Bring in clients or customers
– Help complete a service that you sell
– Contribute to production or distribution
– Engage, retain or increase spend of customers
– Support any of the above activities (do they contribute to office services that help employees complete their own roles – IT, HR, Finance etc)
If the tasks contributing to unmanageable workload don’t directly influence one of these areas – then you need to decide if they are must have, or simply nice-to-have.
Once you’ve investigated these aspects of your business you will have a clearer picture of your staffing needs and know if scaling up is a sound decision. It will then be necessary to decide if you need to bring in someone permanently or whether a flexible or temporary staffer is a better option.