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  • Writer's pictureMy HR Guy

Make It Rain

As of late, I've taken note of an age old problem. The resistance to spend money on resources. I've heard for ages that you can't always throw money at a problem, and I agree that can be the case. However, sometimes money is exactly what is needed. I understand the most business make due on thin margins, at least that's what they want us to believe. But even if I give the benefit of the doubt, I know there are plenty of companies willing to carry debt. Most times, that debt is "good" debt, which means there is a high probability of return on that debt (think, buying a house).

Unfortunately, they rarely view people as investments. Maybe that's because it's harder to see and quantify the return made from the people investment. My observation is that most business owners see their business as way bigger than the people who run it. Someone leaves, they can replace them. The individual is nothing but a mere cog in a massive machine, and therefore the value isn't realized.

It's really a backwards way of thinking. You invest a ton of time and energy into hiring who you believe to be the most talented individual to fill a role. Then, if that person leaves, you have a cavalier attitude around them leaving and you having to replace the role. It's something that really baffles me. So what do I mean when I say make it rain?

There are two parts to my make it rain statement. The first is around headcount. Businesses must be open to spend money to bring in the amount of people necessary to make the company successful. That means, you can't stretch your current staff so thin that all they can do is the everyday, reactive, activities of the role. Your organization will never get anywhere that way.

This requires some work. You need to get a real good understanding of the roles in your department. What is everyone doing? How much time is spent on what activities? What challenges prevent them from making things better? Get the people who work in the department to give their input on what they could do with additional headcount. It requires open an honest conversations, but it needs to happen.

You may find, from these conversations, that headcount isn't the issue. It may be a process issue, or a technology issue. But if you find that there are truly not enough people to do the job, and improve the job (product, process, or otherwise) then make it rain. And if you think you can just push people to work a ton of hours, you'll experience a lot of peaks and valleys, instead of steady growth. People will work hard, get burnt out, and then leave. Don't be stingy with your resources, because ultimately, that investment could produce the return you are looking for; more quickly, and more efficiently.

The second part of making it rain is around salary. I do understand that most of us think we're underpaid. Seeing the value in your own skill is a great thing, though I do have to add a level of reality to some people's valuation. That said, a lot of organizations don't make an active effort to evaluate how they are valuing their own employees. They don't think about it until that A player hands in their resignation and is ready to walk out the door.

You must be willing to, with some frequency, evaluate what you are paying your employees and how that compares to their market worth. Salary surveys are a good option, especially if you plan on evaluating a large staff, or a variety of skill sets.

You can also get a sense based on what your own recruiting efforts are telling you. If you are trying to hire someone for the same or similar role, you can get a sense of what most external applicants are asking for. There are scientific and non-scientific ways of testing the market; either way will give you some useful information.

Making it rain is a bit of an exaggeration of what I'm actually suggesting. Recklessly spending money is never a good formula for being a successful organization. However, never taking your wallet out of your pocket to properly support your people resources will ultimately result in, at best, setbacks and at worst, failure.

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