John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC
Gallatin, TN

Hiring a talented staffer who can take a lot of work off your hands can seem like a dream come true for the practitioner in a small shop. That dream can quickly become a nightmare, however, if you don’t pay attention to that staffer’s own career needs.

The frustration of being chief cook and bottle-washer in your practice finally got to you. You decided to take the step you have resisted for the longest time: become and employer. You made it through the gauntlet of interviewing and hiring. After a few months, your staffer is gaining some traction and you are starting to reap the fruits of your decision.

You’re in a better position to accept referrals; especially the ones that show up with last-minute deadlines. And you actually have time to cultivate those referral sources you always wanted to talk to, but never had time.

So, what’s the problem? None. Yet.

For the first year – or maybe even two or three – your staffer continues to grow, and take on more and more responsibility. If you were lucky enough to hire a young professional with relevant experience, you’re probably handing off as much work as she can handle. The better she is, the happier you probably are about how filling her plate helps you be even more productive.

Sooner or later, though, she’ll find that her learning curve has flattened. She may come to you asking to take on parts of your own role that you’re not prepared to give up. Worse, she may suppress her frustration until it explodes. In either case, an ounce of prevention can help you can avoid the pain of losing her – and starting over.

Hire with headroom. The reason you hired an experienced professional is that you had no time to train someone with no experience. The temptation is to hire someone with enough experience to immediately take over big chunks of your role. By definition, that person will have less room to grow and will be quickest to be frustrated. Compromise by making sure your staffer has headroom.

Take her along. Young professionals often lack for the grasp of the ‘big picture’. Expose them to it too early and you only confuse them. There will come a time, however, when it makes sense to take your staffer along on appointments to meet with clients and attorneys. You won’t do it on every engagement, of course, or your staffer would never get any work done. If you do it on select engagements, and couple it with dialog about what the staffer just observed, you can add depth to that staffer’s experience and value to her work.

Hire below and push upward. There may come a point when the only way to let your staffer take on even more of your own role is to bring someone on board to support her. You can take a big step toward building loyalty by involving her in hiring and supervising the next person.

Hiring an experienced staffer isn’t the answer for every single shingle shop. When it makes sense for you, make sure you’re giving that staffer some place to grow.

Anytime you have thoughts on topics we should explore, be sure to write us: [email protected]

John Borrowman