Managing Staff

Helpful tips and advice

Improve your business plans


As part of our business development services for IFAs, our Top Tips act as memory joggers or checklists, reminding you of the main issues to be aware of as you plan your campaign or take stock of your business plans. Whether you're aiming to segment your client base, build an effective website or even hire staff, we have created a range of Top tips which we hope will help.


As a business grows, you need help to keep up your service levels but deal with more clients. How can you get the right people without spending too much time and money on the process?

One of the key components of building a successful company is to employ the right people. Whilst large organisations have human resources teams to do the work, for the manager of a smaller business, this is just part of your extensive and varied responsibilities. It is also very important as this person will be a key member of your small team, unable to ‘disappear’ as can be possible in a larger organisation.

With this in mind we have collated some of the top tips to remember when recruiting employees, to maximise the value they can add to your operation.

1. Ask for - and use - recommendations

For a small business, personal recommendations from friends and colleagues are often a good source of initial introductions as they may be more understanding of the type of person you get on with and the skills you require. However, remember that this is only a first step – it does not absolve you of the need to maintain independence and objectivity when interviewing potential candidates referred in this manner.

2. Consider using professionals

Although recruitment agencies do charge for their services, in the right situations, they can be a great help when it comes to recruiting staff, particularly if you need specific skills or experience. If you are having problems tracking down candidates within your own resources, their ability to cast the net wider and attract interest from people in different situations can be worth the outlay. A well briefed agent can also save you time in the interview process by screening candidates and discarding any who may be inappropriate.

3. Filter responses

Whether you use an agency or not, have some basic criteria to screen CVs to get down to a manageable list. The basics might include looking for good grammar, clear presentation and an indication that the candidate has given some thought to answering your advert (rather than just sending in a standard response) – but also trust your instincts if something looks odd.

In addition, you could make some filters job specific – so if the candidate is applying for a post that demands numerical skills, insist on a basics maths qualification.

4. Set a job related task

Vocational or skill based tests are used to great effect in large organisations, but the techniques can be usefully applied in any scenario. At the most obvious, this might include setting a typing test for a secretary but could also include a financial services knowledge questionnaire for assistants, planners and trainees, to highlight how interested they are in the subject before you invest your time teaching them more.

5. Get a second opinion

Taking someone with you to an interview helps provoke independent discussion and enables different personalities to draw out different characteristics from potential candidates. Your companion might also pick up on issues you miss or overlook as you concentrate on other things. Always take notes for reference later.

6. Always check references

References are there for a reason and should always be checked as part of your recruitment process. You should ask for at least one written reference from a previous employer or teacher wherever possible and keep these on file for the future.

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