Time Management 101: People Operations & HR

Running a small business is no easy feat – as a business owner, you wear several hats to keep your day-to-day operations running smoothly all while strategizing for your business’ long term growth. But how do you find the time to get everything done?

In OnDeck’s latest Main Street Pulse Report, 61% of business owners surveyed told us they’re constantly racing against the clock, 49% said work/life balance is an illusion and 86% said time management is critical to success. So, we’re launching a Time Management Series this week to help you be more efficient, sacrifice less personal time and get one step closer to achieving that elusive work/life balance.

In this post, you’ll hear from OnDeck’s Senior Vice President of People Operations Lorna Hagen and our Director of Talent Acquisition Danelle Dilibero on how to efficiently build and grow a team.

One of the reasons business owners are so strapped for time is because there is so much to do and – in most cases – not enough people to get it all done. And as businesses grow, so too does the work. So it’s no surprise that one of the uses for OnDeck loans is hiring and retaining employees. Having an extra set of hands – whether full time, part time, contract or freelance – can make a world of difference.

But finding the time to devote to hiring and building a People practice can be challenging. The key is to be focused and deliberate about the role(s) you need, the ideal candidate(s) and what the onboarding process will include. Your reward? More help at work, which means more time for you.

To help streamline your HR to-do list, OnDeck’s recruiting director and head of People Operations share their people time management tips:

RECRUITING: Q&A with Danelle Dilibero, OnDeck’s Director of Talent Acquisition

What areas of recruiting take up more time than others?
Evaluating candidates takes time – and rightly so. I always say “Measure Twice, Cut Once” when it comes to interviewing. You don’t want to hire someone based on just one meeting or one interaction. It’s worth having at least two people meet your candidate (you and a trusted friend/advisor/employee) or have two different interactions (such as once on the phone and once in person). Having more than one perspective will allow for you to have multiple data points to help make better decisions.

Additionally, don’t hire the first person you meet. And don’t hire the friend of a friend just because of the connection. You’ll say no to more people than you’ll say yes to, which is never easy but it’s important to remember that the wrong hire can hurt your business and your reputation.

What time management best practices have you developed to make your recruiting efforts more efficient?
Always, always, always set a timeline and action plan for hiring:

  1. Post your job and ask that all applications/resumes be submitted by a certain day. Deadlines are key.
  2. Give yourself a few business days to read all the job submissions and make notes about each candidate, asking yourself the following questions: What experience does the candidate have that you are looking for, or didn’t realize you may need? What does the candidate say that is interesting to you? What do you want to know more about? What do you want the candidate to expand upon if/when you meet him or her? What’s missing from the candidate’s experience?
  3. Send a note to all candidates, including the ones you want to speak to and even the ones that you don’t plan on moving forward with. These candidates might wind up being customers in the future and you want to make sure they have a good experience with your brand.
  4. For those you plan on speaking with, have your questions ready. And make sure you have a set of questions you ask everyone so you can easily assess one candidate from the next.
  5. Ask your friend/advisor/employee to ask different questions than you’re asking so that they can assess for different attributes. This allows you to take a step back and hear a different point of view.
  6. Finally, don’t hire yourself. It’s easy to hire someone who is just like you but that may not be what your business needs. Perhaps you need a skill set you don’t have, so find the person who can fill a void to round-out your staff and help you grow your business better.

Would you recommend any software programs or online resources that streamline recruiting?
Most small business owners have websites and Facebook pages dedicated to their business, but they could be missing one of the best online resources: a LinkedIn profile. It’s easy to create a profile and network of peers, clients, mentors and friends. Then, when the business has a job opening, you can let your LinkedIn network know – and the best part? It’s free!

In addition to sharing with your LinkedIn network, it’s always a good idea to also mention the opening on your other social channels. You’d be surprised how many referrals you’ll get.

Do you have a go-to recruiting book?

  • “Hire With Your Head” by Lou Adler
  • “Who” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

How do you achieve work/life balance?
Balance indicates that when one thing is up, another must be down – like a see-saw. Instead, try to find congruence. To do so, it is important to think about how to draw the line between your professional requirements and personal needs, and then set boundaries accordingly.

Anything else to share as it relates to recruiting and time management?
You are hiring someone because you need the extra help. Remember to let go a little, give your new hire the chance to take things over, do things their way and quite possibly, teach you something new.

MANAGING HR, AKA YOUR PEOPLE OPERATIONS: Q&A with Lorna Hagen, OnDeck’s Senior Vice President of People Operations

What time management best practices have you developed to keep the people ops department running efficiently?
First, crystal clear communication – it always answers the “why” for people and eliminates the need for too much back and forth (which inevitably wastes time!). When you communicate clearly, your employees get onboarded more quickly and better understand your strategy and vision from the get-go. This is key in developing loyalty.

The second is that each specialized People Operations department – including recruiting, people development, etc. – has a dedicated director with deep subject matter expertise who is empowered to make decisions in real time. Whether or not you have dedicated teams to manage, the key is to empower each employee to make a difference in support of your vision.

Would you recommend any software programs or online resources that keep People Operations running efficiently?
Software programs/apps I use and like are Unstuck for iPad, MindTools and Small Improvements. Of course, depending on your specific needs you should carefully consider what types of tools fit best.

I read a variety of blogs as well, including HR Bartender, Laurie Ruettimann, Fistful of Talent, Bob Sutton Work Matters and The Labor & Employment Law Blog.

Do you have a go-to book about managing people?

  • “Great People Decisions” by Claudio Fernandez Araoz
  • “Work Rules!” By Laszlo Bock
  • “Setting the Table” by Danny Meyer

How do you achieve work/life balance?
Ultimately, you have to be okay with the compromises you will make at work and in life. The only people I know in perfect harmony are full time meditation experts. The rest of us mortals need to make trade-offs to accommodate our priorities – and it’s important to simply accept these trade-offs and keep moving forward.