Sometimes a job opening arises because someone left an existing position. Sometimes you just have a sense that you are working longer hours and cannot keep up. Or other people on the team are overworked. Here are some of the signs that it is time to look at the quality and the quantity of your staff:

  • Quality issues like missed deadlines, product returns, and administrative errors.
  • Excessive overtime
  • Higher turnover, illness, absenteeism, presenteeism
  • Observable stress

If you are seeing any of the above on a steady basis, it is likely time to start looking at your staffing levels and figure out what you need.

Your needs analysis emphasizes the duties, responsibilities, skills, outcomes, competencies, and requirements you are expecting from the person you are hiring. In a nutshell, you are starting with what the job is meant to do.

Before you jump in and hire the first person you meet with a pulse, you need to know where you are and where you are going. Invest some time and energy in discovering strengths and weaknesses, uncover trends, and even get other viewpoints.

If you are going to do it on your own or with a team, here’s how to do your preliminary assessment. And don’t worry. This doesn’t have to be a huge task. Do it now, though, so save yourself some grief later.

Ask some questions about the company or department:

  • What is the vision?
  • What are the long and short-term goals?
  • Are there changes going on in the marketplace to consider?
  • Are there any big initiatives planned?
  • Does the organizational structure need to change?

You want your hiring decisions to be in alignment with organizational and strategic objectives. The questions above get you in the right direction. Look at what the key objectives are.

That was the first step of the hard work. Here comes the next challenge. You have to look inside.

You need to analyze your people. (And if you are a one-person shop, analyze yourself.) What are the skills and weaknesses of the team? What skills and capabilities are needed? You need to look at things with the end in mind. What skills are needed within the organization and which ones can be hired on a contract or temporary basis? What are the future needs? What is the gap between now and 12 months from now? What do you need to do to close the gap?

Your skills or capabilities analysis can be completed in four steps:

  1. Identify skills needed. Stick to responsibilities, tasks, function, and knowledge.
  2. Evaluate your team or the individual.
  3. Assess the results.
  4. Create a skills development plan or hire from the outside.

Why would you jump right to hiring instead of training:

  • If you are a one-person shop and you need to free up your time to work on the business and need someone to take on administrative tasks, this is not the time to develop those skills yourself. Your time is better spent on sales and client fulfillment. Let someone else do the administrative work.
  • It would take too long to train someone. (This is not about “I can do it faster myself.” It is about an actual skill that is needed that would take too long to train someone to learn.)