The old adage that a “bird in hand is worth two in the bush” may work in some instances in business, but slotting people into employee roles is definitely not one of them. I can’t tell you how many times I see early-stage entrepreneurs put someone in a role simply because it’s convenient.
This is particularly harmful when the individual already is known to the team and operating in an entirely different role. Stop this madness! Do you want the quickest solution to your hiring needs or the best solution?
Would you hire an auto mechanic to pilot an airplane? Or a landscaper to build an addition on your house? Of course not. So why do so many of you move a technology developer into a marketing role or an junior-level contributor into a senior-management position before he or she is ready? The quickest or most affordable option isn’t always the smart one.
Building the right team for your startup is the single most important thing you can do to dictate your own odds of success. Get the most qualified person you can who brings proven experience in that exact role.
Early-stage businesses can’t afford mistakes. They simply don’t have the excess capital on hand to absorb those missteps. For example, if your marketing person hasn’t proven he or she knows how to grow a user base in a cost-effective way, you’re most likely paying for that learning curve and all the media-buying mistakes.
Clients occasionally will say, “We are moving fast, this candidate was the quickest option, and we don’t want to lose time recruiting.” I’ve got news for you: Sometimes it’s more important to take a pause. One step back might be all you need to best position the business for the next 10 steps forward.
Recruiting talent for a new role typically is a three- to six-month process. It requires identifying, interviewing, negotiating and onboarding — and in small startups, those duties all might take time away from someone else’s normal job. Once that new person starts working, she or he is out of the gate at full speed. Like an Olympian sprinter, the right hire makes up whatever distance is needed to move into the lead. That’s far better than an inexperienced person who works during that entire period but inches along in perpetuity.
I also hear this often enough: “He’s a really nice guy and good worker, and I wanted to find a place for him.” I can see the appeal. It can be hard to discover people with the right personality fit or work ethic for your culture. That said, if you don’t have an open position that matches the individual’s training or successful growth potential, you might need to make the hard (but usually right) decision to select someone more qualified for the job.
One of my past clients firmly believed that shuffling talent around internally was the best thing for the business. It ran the gamut from promoting beyond skill level and satisfying someone who wanted to try a new department to rewarding a longtime team member and shifting people around to put out immediate fires created when others left.
Not one of these moves bore fruit. Worse yet, the company’s revenues stagnated for years. The business simply couldn’t break through to the next level of growth. Leaders learned the hard way that managing with emotions or moving too quickly often results in putting square pegs in round holes. By the time they were ready to rely on data-supported, experience it was too late.
Internal shuffles aren’t inherently wrong, and it can work out well in many scenarios. For example, moving a salesperson into a business-development role or an accountant into a controller role likely will benefit the company and build loyalty from within. But trying to mold “gatherers into hunters” or “doers into leaders” usually creates a big mess. Avoid losing valuable time in your company’s process by filling crucial roles the right way from the start.
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.