Preparing for a Strategic Hire

By Davon Cook on December 21, 2015

 Last month I wrote about the importance of continuing to professionalize your business. One of the typical decisions in this "upgrade" is filling a strategic position in the organization. For example, I've seen a number of ag companies recently discuss hiring their first dedicated controller or CFO, as well as those considering adding an additional layer of operational management as the company grows. In considering a new position, it’s important to walk through a series of specific reflections:

  • What is your goal and motivation with this position? Is it to bring in expertise that you don’t currently possess? Is it to offload management duties to free up time for other projects? Is it to increase staff for expansion? Make sure you understand your goals before you start looking.
  • Have an honest conversation with yourself and others affected by the hire about the specific duties and responsibilities you want him/her to assume. Who must be involved in training the new employee? Who must give up some duties (and inherently, some sense of control) to utilize this new person? The emotional aspect of significantly changing your organization’s structure is often overlooked.
  • Map out the new employee’s duties in half-day increments for the first six weeks. This forces a reality check of how you will keep him/her busy and who it will impact (related to the previous point).

As noted, make sure these conversations include all key stakeholders that will be impacted by the change. If you want to be successful in utilizing your newly hired team member, you must have widespread ownership because it’s a significant change to the organization’s daily vibe. And you want buy-in to make the associated financial investment. Going through this reflective process naturally leads to the information you need to write a detailed job description—the subject of a future article. But most importantly, it ensures you’ve put adequate thought into the decision to hire in the first place.