If you’ve ever worked for a startup or high-growth company, you know how much time, work, and energy each person invests in their role. There are long hours, sleepless nights, and grueling work involved. Oftentimes, you find yourself doing the work of multiple people, which isn’t sustainable and leaves you feeling like you could accomplish much more if you just had a bit of help. But advocating for hiring another person on your team can be intimidating, especially when your startup seems to not have the resources needed to increase headcount.
So how do you build a truly compelling case that makes it hard for your superiors to turn down? When asked how to advocate for a new hire, here’s what our community had to say:
Do your research
Before advocating for a new hire, you should conduct sufficient research on your team to be certain the new hire is necessary. Tara Lehman suggests taking a look at company processes to make sure you understand if the additional hire is really needed, “The first thing I do is try and understand what the team is currently doing. Are there duplicates? Reports being run that are not needed? Are there cheaper online services or contractors that can help instead?” You may find that a new hire is not the best solution.
Shesh Mathur agrees and recommends you reflect on why you feel overwhelmed. He cites his own experience, “As someone who has taken two startups to successful exits, I can say that if you or one of your team members is engaged in non-productive tasks, then you may be adding to the downfall by adding another headcount who will only continue doing those tasks.” Instead of pitching for a new team member, try reprioritizing your tasks and aligning them with your organization’s overarching goals.
Vivek Srivastava says if you’re feeling short-staffed, there may be a better option. He says, “If you feel your team is overloaded and your organization is still a startup, it’s better to go for outsourcing work than increasing your organization’s headcount.” When your company is no longer a startup and is more established, they may be more willing to grow their teams. While a new hire may be the right decision, the key is to ensure you’re thoroughly evaluating all options that can increase your team’s productivity and the value they deliver.
If you do decide adding a person to your team is the right next step, build a case for it with the following tips.
Focus on the top line
More often than not, money will be a primary focus during this discussion. Relying on data is always taken as the most logical way to approach a decision and hard numbers are tough to argue against. Be sure to use them to your advantage. If you demonstrate that a new hire will increase your company’s top line, your pitch will be more likely to succeed. Bill Bonney suggests going in with a presentation that clearly illustrates this, “In the first slide, I would show what your team can do that has the greatest impact on growing the top line. Show how you are currently spending your time and the opportunity cost associated.”
Bill says he would continue the discussion with a classic 3-bucket exercise. “For Bucket 1, say what you will stop doing. There are always thing that you just don’t need to do. For Bucket 2, say what you would do better. For Bucket 3, say what you will start doing. Fox example, now that I have stopped doing X, and improved how I approach Y, I can then do Z. Z helps the company grow.” Make it clear you know how the new hire will directly impact the company’s top line goals.
Ben Bandaru agrees with the top line argument, and says that organizations hire people to solve problems. He says, “Define the ‘opportunity cost’ to the organization of tasks you are unable to accomplish due to being short staffed. Costs have to be lower than the benefit to justify a new hire.”
Demonstrate how expanding the team will positively impact others
Another point to address when advocating for a new hire is how the new team member will positively affect others’ roles. Adam King suggests, “Focus on the measurables and stick to the rule of 3: this hire will help to streamline tasks, allow for innovation, and allow us to take a proactive approach in our projects.” Be sure to support your claims with specific data, such as the hours you’ll have to work on high-impact projects.
Since startups are generally pretty tight on cash and expenditures, Bappa Choudhury suggests taking it one step further – advocating for a mid-level position. He offers, “Bring up a mid-level position with talent and a needed skill and show a plan that demonstrates how you can expedite go-to-market activities by a certain number of weeks or months if you have this additional skill and resource.” Make the case that by adding this person to the team, you’ll be allowing other experienced team members to increase their own productivity.
In summary, when you’re thinking about advocating for a new hire:
- Do the research to make sure that, of all options, hiring someone makes most sense
- Prove how the new hire will help the company’s top line
- Offer an argument that shows how the new hire with positively impact other teammates and their roles