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How To Hire An Operations Team


You might have brought on a Chief Operating Officer to handle the demands of a quickly expanding business, but sometimes one extra hand is simply not enough.


Integrating an effective Operations Team directly into your corporate structure can boast some impressive results, and today you’ll learn exactly how to find the best talent for your specific needs.


In today’s blog, we’re discussing how you can quickly and effectively hire an operations team for your company.


HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO HIRE AN OPERATIONS TEAM?


If you’re in the early honeymoon stages of your company, you might be tempted to take on as much responsibility as you can. After all, you’re a hard worker, and have incredible time management skills, right? Wrong. Too many young CEOs have made the fatal error of overestimating their abilities to deal with the day-to-day operations of their company, and if you want to truly succeed in your competitive industry, you’ve got to learn how to relinquish some control.


Having a direct role in how your company operates sounds good in theory – you have direct control on how your employees work on the micro scale, you build rapport as there isn’t a sense of classism that is present in larger companies, and you can constantly monitor how your company is growing and progressing. However, as you experience the typical rapid growth that any startup can expect, you’ll find yourself taking on more executive roles: reporting to shareholders, developing more complex plans for the future, and dealing with ungodly amounts of paperwork. Don’t overwhelm yourself, and seriously consider whether or not a dedicated operations team could seriously help you out.


DO I ALWAYS NEED ONE?

There are many small companies that don’t incorporate an operations team – at their size, the direction of the workforce is relatively united; there aren’t too many departments, and the low employee count means that communication is easy. Unfortunately, what naturally tends to occur as these businesses grow is an inherent disconnect between all of these divisions.


Common sense will tell you that, as departments take on more and more employees, cross-communication can become difficult – and many CEOs don’t take notice of these issues until they’re too late. With a dedicated operations team, however, your company should see a more united front that will drastically improve productivity and remove any inhibitions to the growth of your business.


WHAT SHOULD MY OPERATIONS TEAM DO?


So, what should an operations team do? Simply put, the top priority of any operations team should be to manage the details that keep an organisation running at peak efficiency. This typically involves a lot of micromanaging – boots-on-the-ground work delivering resources and monitoring the day-to-day work of a company to make sure that everything is in optimal condition. This is a very broad definition, and so here are a few ways an operations team can, and should, help.


Your team should help manage your recruitment pipeline, ensuring that you have a constant flow of new talent. They should also promote communication between departments and resolve any issues that can arise between them.


Your team should also help you in your executive operations. They can design KPIs and develop effective long-term and short-term strategies that will help the company achieve them, while also keeping track of progress. Your team may also be able to help you out with any legal issues.

While your team won’t be interacting directly with customers, it’s still their duty to ensure that the products your company produces are in the best possible state to maximise customer satisfaction. Your product team will grow to rely on the operations team to give them feedback on how products can be improved, as they are best positioned to analyse the productive potential of your workforce against customer feedback.


A good operations team will maximise the quality of your products by extracting as much utility from the source as possible. Your team should focus on acquiring inventory and services that can ensure that your workforce is efficient, while minimising risk and costs involved.

In short, the sign of a good operations team is one that maximises the quality of your company’s output, at all stages of development.


HOW DO I BUILD MY TEAM?


Like many teams within a company, maximum effectiveness can be achieved through an efficient top-down approach. Your ops manager should have a great understanding of company structure, processes, and supply chain management, including industry knowledge of the logistics, transportation, and manufacturing that go into a product-based company, if that’s what your company is.


Communication is also key – the operations team is virtually your direct subordinate, and so they will be communicating to the entire rest of the company. Making sure there is a united front in their messaging is key to constructing a productive workplace. What’s crucial is that your operations team is suited to your company – each workplace culture and environment is unique, and an effective team will know how to adapt to yours.


WHAT’S THE BEST TEAM STRUCTURE?


The organisation of your team is something that you should put a lot of thought into. A common mistake many CEOs make is dividing and conquering – hiring and assigning specific members for designated divisions within your company. This can defeat the whole purpose of the operations team. You run the risk of creating “silos of responsibility”, where the operations of your company are disjointed and not presented on a united front.


A simple solution to this is to not make the divisions the priority, but project work. If you want to run your ops team at peak efficiency, you’ll need to focus most of its bandwidth on projects. Projects save them running from emergency to emergency until they burn out, or from slowing down to deal with interruptions (a big productivity killer). There is a glaring problem to this system – if any emergencies or urgent requests come up, your team may be vastly unprepared and won’t be able to handle them effectively.


An easy solution to this issue is to simply have a dedicated emergency response team. Delegate the day-to-day issues to a separate team, while letting the rest of your operations focus on project work. Any emergencies or issues that arise can be dealt with quickly and quietly, while your company can still remain focussed on the projects at hand. The priority is making sure that your operations team works on the company as a whole, not the individual parts that make it up.


WHAT CAN I DO TO OPTIMISE PRODUCTIVITY?


So, you have your all-star team, but the work isn’t quite done yet. Workflow can still be optimised, and your team might have a rough start as they become used to your company culture and environment. Keep in mind that the introduction of a new team to run the operations of your company might in itself change the dynamic of your company – your employees are used to dealing with you, not new faces that act in your place. There are a few ways to improve productivity:


  • Create a knowledge bank. Document processes and templates to be shared across the team. Not only will this streamline project management while cutting time and effort, your teams will have a consistent approach in how they work

  • Establish a consistent system of delivery. Implementing a standardized approach to your production can ensure that each employee knows their role and so workflow can be far more consistent and optimal

  • Take as much data as possible. You want to know exactly how your teams are performing so that areas of improvement can be easily identified and worked on. Set quarterly or annual targets so that you can have an objective, quantitative approach to your operations management

  • Your operations are now managed by a team, and so it is crucial that your team works in perfect harmony with each other. Team-building exercises can be great for improving productivity and communication among your team members and, subsequently, the rest of your company

  • Your operations team are in a perfect position to provide feedback on your company, and so it is crucial that you allow them a safe space to voice their opinions on how the workplace can be improved in a variety of areas. Having multiple voices with a birds-eye view of the company can be greatly beneficial, so make sure that your operations team always feels comfortable giving feedback.

By slowly incorporating these practises into your company, you will hopefully see a spike in productivity as your operations are more effectively handled.


The importance of an operations team cannot be understated. You’d be surprised as to how much more optimal your company’s workflow could be; by integrating an effective team to run the operations of your company, you will see a dramatic change in productivity that will give you more time to deal with your more executive duties.


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