Some questions to ask before you hire staff?

March 17, 2011

Filed under: Human Resources — Tags: — jonathanpoisner @ 1:56 pm

My last post was about reasons to hire a consultant.

I had a conversation yesterday with the Executive Director of a small nonprofit wrestling with the question of whether to hire another permanent staff person and, if so, how much pre-planning do you do for the position.

Here are a few of the questions I asked her to consider.

Do you have enough current cash flow and expected cash flow to ensure that you can keep this position employed for at least 1 year?  If not, think twice — unless it’s a fundraising position where you can then readjust upwards your expected cash flow . . .

Is it clear under your organizational strategic plan (or its equivalent) what set of goals/programs this person would work on?  This is more than: can you write a job description?  It’s: could you craft this person’s work plan and show how those responsibilities match up against your strategic plan?

Do you ever hire if you can’t do this?  Maybe if you know you need to work in an area, but lack expertise on staff to lay out a reasonable work plan and goals.  I expect some organizations hiring new staff to work on social media/web are necessarily dependent on hiring people with expertise to help them develop reasonable work plans.

Another question I asked:  Do you have the institutional systems in place to handle a larger staff (office space, other systems)?

Still another question:  is there right person available?  Getting the right people on staff is probably your most important challenge as a nonprofit manager, so if you run a hiring process and nobody strong emerges, you are almost always better off not hiring a mediocre candidate.

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