Personnel and Organization: Chicken or the Egg?

the chicken or the egg

Every company is composed of individuals with different skill sets and has different roles that must be filled in order to succeed.

However, the number of people, particularly at the beginning, is often limited. One fundamental question facing the founders of a new company in terms of personnel and organization is how to organize their business to mesh people with roles.

There are really two choices:

  1. Identify the roles and find the people to fit the needs.

This approach to staffing is probably the most efficient from an operational perspective. It most closely aligns the businesses resources around the skills needed to succeed. However, it is also the most difficult to attain.

The founders are who they are. They may not have the specific talents you want. In addition start-ups rarely have the resources necessary to attract additional people with required skills. Ultimately, rigidly adhering to tightly defined roles is like pounding square pegs into round holes. It can lead to dissatisfaction and operational failures.

  1. Evaluate your people and modify the roles to fit the skill sets.

Flexibility is often key to victory. Ultimately, successful entrepreneurs are the ones that can adapt. Critical tasks can be split up and assigned to multiple people. In great organizations, this will happen automatically as leaders move to fill the gaps.

The problem is that no one may want to do the “dirty-work” which creates a risk that critical tasks may be left incomplete. In order for this to succeed, the goals must be prioritized. Be sure that the ones left undone are not the critical tasks.

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A strategic view that focuses on the prioritized objects and creating clearly defining supporting tasks may be more productive than pigeon-holing individuals into roles they are not entirely suited for. Things are rarely black or white and adapting to evolving needs is imperative.

As a company matures and resources become available, understanding what skills are missing will help focus the search for additional talent and help build a management team that gives investors confidence in your ability to perform.

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Dave Clark

Dave Clark taught Strategy at West Point and is a co-founder of FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.