We have the fashion industry to thank for popularizing the term “one size fits all.” From a manufacturing perspective, the idea that a single item could fit the needs of all held promise: With no specialization in sizing, it would be easier to mass-produce a large number of items and then get them to stores and into the hands of consumers quickly.
But like most things in fashion, “one size fits all” went out of style, and for good reason: Everyone isn’t one size. Consumers today want customized experiences. Think personalized virtual styling or curated streaming content.
Yet we can still see traces of a one-size-fits-all mindset today in some of our larger, more enduring (and slower-to-change) institutions. Consider, for example, how some companies go about creating a strategic hiring plan.
Planning often starts at a high level, with leadership making broad decisions about how to staff departments in order to achieve the company’s goals. Getting the word out about opportunities with the company might follow the same trajectory it has in the past: job sites, job fairs, and employee referral programs. It’s the one-size-fits-all approach: Each department gets the same recruiting treatment.
However, departments, much like companies, have their own unique needs, goals, and structures, and leadership should consider each of these when crafting a strategic hiring plan.
Each department’s stage and structure impacts their hiring needs
Departments differ in their purpose, stage of growth, and structure, all of which should be considered when creating each department’s hiring plan.
Don’t get us wrong: Nailing down a clear org structure for the overall company is essential. But that doesn’t mean each department has to be identical. Flexibility in planning can go a long way in setting each department up for success.
Consider the growth trajectory of a sales department. “Sales hiring is, quite simply, mission critical,” writes Peter Kazanjy, cofounder of Atrium and TalentBin. “The ability to attract, hire and onboard successful sales reps and execs is an enormous competitive advantage.”
When a company first starts out, the sales department’s focus might be on market development: What segments should we target, who are our buyers, and in what ways can potential customers use our products?
It’s a specialized skill set that helps generate this growth, and once the team secures business, hiring can shift toward bringing on account executives or account managers. Here, the department’s growth stage directly informs their hiring needs.
Sales strategies can also influence how leadership chooses to structure their sales department and teams. This structure, in turn, influences hiring needs.
Choosing to structure a sales team by territories might require that teams hire experienced sales reps in those locations. (Source)
Here are two examples that help illustrate how different sales strategies will affect not only how departments structure their teams but also what skills or criteria they look for in potential candidates.
- Sales chooses to structure their teams by territories. As illustrated in the graphic above, a geography- or territory-based structure can have several levels (e.g., sales manager, region/territory manager, territory sales rep, etc.). If a requirement of the territory sales rep position is that the rep has a similar location to the accounts they manage or pursue, then the hiring team would need to focus on qualified local candidates.
- Sales chooses to structure the teams by prospect company size. Selling to a small business is different from selling to an enterprise company. Because their needs and pain points are vastly different, the hiring team will want to recruit sales reps with experience selling to these different sized customers.
Company goals affect departments (and hiring) differently
A company’s focus, whether it be their mission, quarterly goals, or new initiatives, affects departments in different ways. These effects can roll over to hiring needs and requirements.
What a company chooses to prioritize dictates not only which departments get hires but also which departments receive extra focus, resources, and budget. A software company, for example, commits to an ambitious product road map that promises a major release each quarter. In order to hit those goals, the company must bring on additional developers. As a result, the engineering department would receive a larger budget and headcount plan.
Yet hiring is not just a numbers or quota game. Increasing the size of a department requires intentional planning. Hiring managers must identify what skills are needed, where new hires will fit in the overall structure of the department, and what manager new hires will report to.
It’s also important to recognize how staffing one department can affect other departments in the organization. If a company achieves their development hiring goals, and therefore delivers quarterly releases to their customers, that could mean an uptick in customers reaching out to support for assistance with those features. Sales could also see an increase in leads if new features are must-haves or key differentiators among competitors.
Taking a step back and revisiting company-wide structure or creating various staffing scenarios can help hiring teams anticipate bandwidth or how staffing one department might impact neighboring departments.
Last, companies should always be aware of (and prepared for) how goals, initiatives, and product launches might shift in different economic and market scenarios. Mapping out different scenarios and creating contingency plans can go a long way in helping your company weather sudden change and help keep hiring plans strategic.
Managers can play a crucial role in effective planning
Managers play an instrumental role in the day-to-day life of their department or team. They are often responsible, at least in part, for employee onboarding, reviews, and promotions, effectively directing structure and movement within their ranks.
ChartHop's org chart delivers a data-rich visual of your company's reporting structure and a manager's span of control.
Your management teams will also better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their department and will be able to advise on skills and knowledge gaps and what hiring teams should look for with potential candidates.
A high-level planning view might assume that the engineering department has a satisfactory number of front-end developers to meet goals for the fiscal year. However, an engineering manager or team lead would be able to point out that while, yes, there are a number of front-end developers on the team, these developers are junior level and would benefit from a more senior hire. This invaluable insight can save the department (and company) further down the line by ensuring that the necessary skill sets, knowledge, and experience are in place to successfully execute company goals
Another benefit of involving managers in department planning and hiring is the impact they can have on the growth and promotion of internal candidates. Since managers work with employees on a daily basis, managers are more attuned to individual potential and employees’ professional goals. Managers can mentor employees, advocate for professional-growth training, and carve out opportunities for advancement that otherwise might not be seen from on high.
Keep your strategic hiring plan dynamic and flexible
One size fits all might be great if you’re a company that never wishes to grow or adapt to market or industry trends. Trouble is, the world will grow without you. In fact, 65% of recruiters confess that staying on top of quickly evolving hiring needs will remain a top priority over the next few years.
Stay dynamic with a solution that offers flexible planning and the data-driven insights needed to meet the unique hiring demands of your various departments.