How to Hire Quality MSP Staff

How to Hire Quality MSP Staff

Having a rock-solid hiring process is crucial for growing your MSP.

Your employees are the building blocks that create your brand, your value, and your company as a whole. A few weak links could bring down your team’s morale and your brand’s reputation.

That’s why you should take the hiring process very seriously.

Print Partner works with hundreds of MSPs across the country, and our founder, Mitch Kranitz, previously founded and sold two MSP businesses. From personal experience and our partners’ experiences, we know what it takes to build a stellar MSP team.

In this article, we’ll review whether or not you should hire and how to vet for quality candidates. 

To create this guide, we’ve collaborated with Start Grow Manage, an organization dedicated to promoting success within the MSP business community. SGM offers consulting, courses, and staffing options for MSP business owners. As fellow promoters of MSP growth, we are proud to work with them.

Should You Hire?

First of all, should you? 

Every MSP wants to grow bigger, better, faster, and stronger. And hiring may, at first glance, seem like the right option for your MSP to grow. 

But it may not always be.

Here are some typical scenarios that MSPs encounter that cause the “night chills” about hiring:

  • Congrats! You won the largest contract in your MSP’s history. Now, how are you going to staff it? Start worrying now.

  • You just onboarded three new clients in the past month, and your onboarding efforts are stretching your team thin. You expect things will ease back in a month, but you are also courting two additional new MRR customers. Hire? Or keep your team stretched thin?

  • You have been acting as the lead engineer for your MSP for a long time, but you think it’s time to “work on the business, not in it” and hire a lead engineer to replace you.

  • As the owner of your MSP, you are bogged down with admin and finance work on top of any engineering and project management responsibilities. You’re thinking of hiring an office manager to take over all the admin stuff from you.

As you can see, there are many different angles to consider when hiring. Take your time before rushing into it!

Before you start recruiting, evaluate the additional tasks you need to accomplish. Is this workload consistent, or does it fluctuate throughout the year? 

Will having an additional resource on board be one too many people? And if you are hiring for a big project, will you still need that resource once this task is completed?

If your MSP’s workload picks up for big projects or during certain times of the year, consider recruiting or hiring contractors rather than more full-time staff. Adding full-time staff is expensive, as it brings additional taxes, insurance, benefits, and of course, a full-time wage to pay!

Also, consider the level of expertise needed. If the role requires an advanced certification or skillset, you’re probably better off hiring a full-time employee. 

Every MSP is different, and the decision to hire - and how to hire - is ultimately up to you. Only you and your team will know what fits your organization's needs best.

Evaluate Your Onboarding Process

Let’s assume you’ve decided to hire new employees. How do you ensure that recruiting and onboarding go well for you and them?

Starting a new job is stressful, regardless of skill level or industry experience. Whether you hire someone with two months of experience or 20 years of experience, you need to work with them to ensure they have a smooth and pleasant transition into your organization.

One common mistake MSPs make is assuming candidates with extensive experience can hit the ground running on day one.

False. Even if your employee is an IT wunderkind, they can’t read your mind! 

Every MSP has its own way of doing things. Your candidates’ prior employers may not have implemented some tasks or organizational practices you consider standard.

Don’t expect your new hire to memorize your SOPs on day one.

If your organization has a consistent turnover trend, odds are the issue doesn’t lie with your newbies but with your onboarding procedure. Your goal should be to set all of your employees up for success.

Here are some tips to smooth out what would otherwise be a bumpy road for your recruits:

  • You need to have a clear standard operating procedure (SOP) that details how new hires are brought into your company. The SOP should include everything from HR to equipment, training on CRM and other SAS resources, client familiarization, where to get coffee, and use the bathroom!

  • Assign a mentor to act as a resource for your recruit.

  • Build a detailed training program to familiarize your new hires with all the technical resources your MSP uses to conduct business.

  • Create easy-to-follow reference material to use while your recruit is working but still in training.

  • Introduce your new hire to resources throughout the organization. 

  • Check in with your new hires and ask for feedback.

After you’ve reevaluated the quality of your onboarding process, then, and only then, can you start considering the quality of your candidates.

What to Look for in Your Candidates

Once you have your ducks in a row, start thinking about how you vet the right candidates.

There are two main traits to consider for new hires: skills and values. We’ll cover each of these in detail.

Hire for Skillset

Can your candidate do the job?

Consider what your employees are capable of. 

When you hire someone, what skills do they need to have? What do you expect them to do? 

Clearly define the role you hire for. You should have a hats chart, a functional organization chart that shows all the roles in a business regardless of who’s responsible. When you hire someone, you should know where they go in the hats chart, what you expect of them, and what success looks like.  

Hiring a Level 1 helpdesk operator differs from hiring a Level 3 support tech. So make sure you clearly define job requirements. 

A common issue we’ve seen is the birth of “Frankenstein roles”. These roles are cobbled together from all the part-time miscellaneous work that needs to be done. 

If you need a part-time bookkeeper, a part-time helpdesk operator, and someone to occasionally write content, it can be tempting to stitch these together and call them one role. 

It’s alive!

While it may sound tempting to hire a jack-of-all-trades, a Frankenstein role requires too many different disciplines. Instead of job clarity, you end up with an ungainly position that resembles Frankenstein’s creations. 

This sets people up for failure and costs you a fortune

Consider Experience Level

Also, be careful with experience.  

MSPs often want to hire the most experienced person for the job. But experience can cut both ways. 

Sure, they know what they are doing, but experienced people may not want to comply with your way of doing things. Be ready to hear, “Well, this is how I’ve always done it.”

In many cases, you’d rather hire someone with less experience whom you can train rather than someone with lots of experience you’ll have to convince to follow your process.  

Be clear when posting a job description to find candidates with the right skills. Cover everything you need them to know on day one to ensure there are no surprises when they show up for the interview.

If you hire someone with less experience, they may not have 100% of the capabilities you require from day one. They can still be successful as long as they are willing and able to learn and you are willing and able to train them.

Hiring less experienced talent means that your recruits won’t have to unlearn any bad habits and will specialize in your processes and how you want things done. 

Whatever skills you are looking for, ask the right questions in the interview, detail your requirements on job postings, and you’ll be more likely to get the all-star hire you’re looking for!

Hire for Values

Will your candidate do the job?

When it comes to building your team, values matter even more than skillsets. 

“You can train skills, but you can’t train values,” says Start Grow Manage CEO Jeff Loehr. “Values will keep people from working efficiently with clients and within your team. Hire for values first, skillset second,” 

The most talented, brilliant technician in the industry will hold your company back if they decide they don’t fit how you do things. 

What happens when they go steer away from your carefully-crafted SOP? What happens when they are not willing to learn or adapt to changes? 

What happens when they are generally difficult to work with or make your customers feel uncomfortable?

Regardless of skill level, you must consider how well your candidates’ core values match yours. 

Hire a candidate who will work well with the rest of your team and is open to learning and adjusting to your practices. Otherwise, they will struggle in the role and may cause friction and frustration among the rest of your team.

While learning someone’s values from a handful of 30-minute interviews may sound difficult, you can learn much about someone when you ask the right questions.

Ask them questions about former projects. How did they work with others? How do they handle change? How do they treat others? 

Test for Values

Consider using assessments: test for values.

Consider introducing new hires to the rest of your team and hearing feedback from them. How do they gel with their prospective colleagues?

For example, when Zappos invites new hires to the office, they spend time with a company driver and in the cafeteria, where they’d have to interact with cafeteria staff. 

At the end of the day, Zappos asks their driver and cafeteria staff for feedback on the candidate. The candidate’s treatment of staff gave Zappos organic insight into their character.

One of Start Grow Manage’s values is rigor. So when they post a job description, a code word or phrase is always buried in the job description. They ask candidates to include that word in the subject of their application email. 

If the requested code word is not present in the email, SGM automatically rejects the candidate.  

Pinpoint the values that determine success within your company, and create tests to vet candidates that exhibit them. Finding a talented prospect who shares your values will amplify your chances of finding the right fit for your role.

Print Partner, SGM, and MSP Hiring

Hiring for any business can be a tricky area to navigate. But hiring for a highly-technical field like managed services can be an especially tall hurdle to leap.

That’s why we’re here to help!

Print Partner is the proud partner to MSPs across the country, handling your client's print so your team can focus on more important matters, like hiring a team that kicks butt on all your high-priority projects.

And if you want help with tackling your big-fish projects, consider our trusted partner, Start Grow Manage!

SGM supports its MSP clients by providing training courses, consulting, and staff offerings. If you want to easily fulfill your hiring needs and learn from industry experts, consider working with them!

They can also help you find amazing virtual administrative and technical people, who will fit with your values and help you take your company to the next level.  

And if you want to help your clients with their print services, consider partnering with us, a Print Partner you can trust.

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