Drive your Business - Do You Have the Right Capability?

driving business performance

You know the feeling, things are frantic, you need help and your first thought is how quickly can I get someone in, will I tap my existing networks or go to market with a recruitment agency.  But is that what your business really needs, is it more people or should it be more automation and better processes, upskilling existing team members or maybe leveraging third party expertise, how do you really know?

Before reacting, stop and think to yourself, is this what I need to reach my business goals, what capability do I really need.  If you don’t know the answer it’s OK, here are a few tips to help you to make sure you are making good decision and it all starts with your business strategy.

Tip 1 Link to your Strategy- First thing you need to do is set out your business strategy, if you need some pointers on how to do this refer ( or if it is already in place, fantastic.  You may ask why this is important after all aren’t I just hiring more people because it’s busy.  This is where it’s easy to fall into the trap of reacting to what is going on around you and not being proactive by methodically flowing your planning through your business.  Without your strategy, business goals and action plans how could you possible know what capability you need to drive your business forward and whether the capability would best be hired or leveraged from specialist partners.

Tip 2 What do you Need – Next look at what capabilities you need to execute on the action plans which supports each of your business goals.  These will be a blend of technical skills such as project management, customer acquisition, financial management or operations and non-technical such as leadership, resilience, attention to detail, problem solving or creativity.  A great way to set this out is in a capability matrix, with all the capabilities across the top and your resources running down.  By putting a traffic light approach (green - fully competent, amber - needs training and red - capability required) you will quickly see where your gaps are.  Then you can make a decision about where you will source your capability from, there are three common areas 1) train up existing team members 2) recruit new team members or 3) leverage third parties.

Tip 3 Internal or External – A question often asked is should I hire new people, train existing team members or leverage third party specialists?  I don’t think there is a clear cut answer, it really depends on your current business set up and goals.   For instance if your goals are aggressive and the capability required is specialised then it would make more sense to buy it in as time to competency for existing team members is long.   Alternatively if your long term goals are to build up a sustainable, succession planned business then training and mentoring team members may be a better option.  Other considerations include your budget, available time to look after staff and retention of intellectual property if using partners.

Tip 4 Get the Right People – If you do decide to bring the capability in house through a new hire, get it right and you propel your business forward, get it wrong and you can stall or go backwards as quality, customer experience and cultural issues drain your valuable time.  If you are like a lot of business owners, your hiring policy goes something like, a referral, an emailed resume, a coffee catch up, an offer and before you know it you have a new team member on board.  Instead, try referring back to your capability matrix, map out what capabilities you need and match that with their experience, references and how they engage with you.  Try putting them on contract with a view to being permanent or at least have a probation period so you can make sure you have the right cultural and capability fit.   Once on board, set them up for success, nurture and develop their talent with one on one check ins, mentoring, strengths and succession plans.

Tip 5 Get the most out of your Partner – If you have decided to acquire the capability through a trusted third party make sure they can demonstrate the capabilities you need from your capability matrix.  Review past work they have done, client referrals or their experience.  To get the most out of the partnership ensure you have a very clear work brief which outlines exactly what you what them to do (this will come from your business strategy action plans), in what time frame, at what cost and with very clear outcomes which are linked to their fees.  Ensure any developed intellectual property remains with you, have one point of accountability and have regular updates and check ins to make sure everything is on track.