When, how to expand your leadership team with a company senior leader

As a business owner, I’m always looking for ways to get the best performance out of my company and team.
We’re rigorous in finding ways to continuously improve, and I try to hold that standard from the top to the bottom of my IT consultancy, Lazorpoint.
Striving to thrive
When we started missing some of our ambitious growth and service goals, I knew it was time to make some changes for us to perform better. I wasn’t sure what was missing from my company, so I chatted with the friends who have companies of a similar size and have experienced their own growing pains. I wanted see how they approached growth and building their teams.
Between those conversations and a lot of reading on what makes great companies tick, it became clear that Lazorpoint was missing someone whose sole focus was to connect our strategies with our tactics.
I’ve always believed that truly great companies have a visionary and an integrator. Apple had Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak; Microsoft had Bill Gates and Paul Allen. In the 18 years since I founded Lazorpoint, I transitioned from a sole proprietor to leading a team of more than 25 professionals. I had developed a clear vision for where I want my company to go. Now I needed someone to help me manage our growing team and improve our processes. I needed a COO.
Getting started
Adding a senior manager to a small business is a daunting task. The wrong hire is a costly mistake that can set a company back for years. I again tapped my network to see if they knew any viable candidates. I also engaged two outside consultants to both source candidates and help with the process. Finally, I built a team consisting of our current senior managers to oversee the process.
We first developed exactly what we wanted out of the COO. We clearly defined the position with a detailed job description and built benchmarks for the role. We outlined the key competencies required for success, and we considered where we wanted Lazorpoint to go in the next several years and how the COO would help us get there.
The right fit
Even after filtering out applicants who clearly lacked the skillset required, we spent hours with our finalists. We ultimately spent 40 hours with our new COO, Russ Klein, prior to hiring him. This provided time for him to demonstrate and prove he had the right capabilities while also enabling him to ensure Lazorpoint was a great fit.
Why it’s worth it
We had spent more than 200 man-hours over a seven-month period to find the best fit. That’s a staggering commitment for a small business, but it is a small price to pay if we meet our long-term objectives.

Without reinvesting in your company, you’re likely standing still or backsliding. If your company is not going where you want it to, consider adding some muscle at the top. The right executive can be a game changer.

David Lazor is the founder and CEO of Lazorpoint, an IT consulting firm based in Cleveland.