Filling a gap, not a role

I was struck the other day by how recruitment in small businesses can sometimes be very much misunderstood.


Here’s what I mean:


A friend of mine runs a business in a particularly competitive industry.  The reason that he’s so successful is because of him – he’s a really good sales person, a crack negotiator and all round super chap.


Now, his business has been a person down for a while and my mate got wind of someone with industry experience who was looking for a job.


All good so far… but here’s the issue.


The bloke with relevant industry experience is a sales person and the role in the business is for a technical bod, i.e. someone who can do the work that my friend wins.


Of course, what my friend should say to himself, with a wry smile on his face a philosophical shrug of his shoulders is that it wasn’t meant to be this time and keep looking… or more accurately, start looking rather than waiting for the right person to fall into his lap.


But he’s not.  What he’s actually doing is looking for ways to shoe-horn the sales guy into a role that doesn’t exist.  ‘Well, he could do some of the sales stuff and I’ll do some technical and manage things more efficiently, whilst getting the other guys…’


The problem is the sales guy is expensive and he becomes doubly expensive when you take my friend out of the sales picture.


It just doesn’t work and the reason it doesn’t work is that my friend is trying to fill a gap not a role.


What he needs to do is actually work out what the new employee has to do, the skills he or she needs and the development they might need to ensure the business keeps up with all the latest innovations.


Instead, none of this has happened.  Someone has appeared on the scene and, on the surface they seem like a good option.  If not a good option, then an easy option, certainly.


But it won’t be.


I can almost guarantee that the person will get fed up with the lack of a clear role, the boss, (my friend) will be upset by the lack additional income being generated and the technical team will grumble because they still haven’t got someone who can take the pressure off them.


Define the role and then find the person… not the other way round.

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