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How to Hire an Operations Manager 

5 Steps to onboarding the role that keeps your startup running like a well-oiled machine 

As a startup, your business budget needs to be strictly adhered to. Sometimes, that can make hiring — or justifying a new hire — pretty hard! However, at a certain point in business growth, not hiring can be just as detrimental. Bringing in an operations manager is often the difference between strengthening your bottom line or cutting further into the bank accounts. They’ll help create a more efficient team and business, take some work off everyone’s plates, and, when functioning properly, will be nearly invisible within the company. They’re like a fairy godperson for seamless business operations. 

Does your startup need a little magic fairy dust? Here are five steps for how to hire an Operations Manager. 


1. Determine if you’re ready.

Don’t just hire to hire. Your startup needs to be absolutely ready for an operations manager. If not, you’ll be paying someone to twiddle their thumbs or complete tasks for people that were already being done. As we mentioned, your budget is already tight. It comes down to four things:  

  1. Your business is big enough. 
  2. People spend time on things that aren’t their job or key strengths. 
  3. Processes run well, but goal completion is lagging. 
  4. You aren’t able to delegate and enjoy some downtime.  

Pro tip: If you can answer these four readiness questions, you’re ready to hire. 

As far as company size, typically we find around 15 employees is the right time to hire. Why? Think of how many processes and paperwork your team conducts and fills out daily. How many of them do you think are done perfectly? Having a single person in charge of making that run smoothly will free up a lot of time and space on numerous levels — especially to hit those goals and quotas. Having someone worry about the other things also allows your team to get back to working on the things they’re best at and using the skills you hired them for in the first place. If you have upper-level staff trying to take care of things that detract from their crucial role, it might be time to bring in help. 

2. Understand the role.

Just like you would when hiring for any other role, you need to understand what exactly you’re hiring for. Positions like an operations manager are sometimes challenging, as there’s no complete guidebook on how it looks. Every startup is unique. By defining the role (and explaining it to others), you’ll be more successful at recruiting the right fit for your business. If you do it right, you could see a 10% boost in productivity in your employees. So… What are some of the things an operations manager can cover?  

  • Maintenance 
  • Supply chain management 
  • Product quality 
  • Informing business strategy 
  • Finding performance improvement strategies 
  • Cost control 

You’ll want to identify who reports to this person and make sure you’re not setting the scope too large. This is not your product manager. The operations manager, first and foremost, is in charge of safety surrounding how your business operates, as well as the efficient running of the company. The operations manager can look very different depending on your needs. TXM gives the following suggestion 

“Think about your business plan and the improvements you would like to see in the next 1-2 years. Then tie the critical skills and experience to these outcomes.” 

Shape the role so you know what you’re looking for and applicants understand what they’re applying for. Managing expectations is also crucial for retention when you do hire.  

 3. Create a candidate persona.

Once you have defined the role, the next step is to define the perfect hire. Who fits best within your company culture? What kind of skills should this person have? Where are they filling in the blanks? What things can be trained, and what knowledge should they already possess? Don’t worry — we have a how-to on building candidate personas, too, as there are many essential questions to ask yourself when determining who this person is. 

4. Look for these traits in potential hires.

A good operations manager will have a particular set of traits that make them successful. This goes beyond education, knowledge, and skills. They’ll need to be efficient and analytically minded while also being personable with excellent communication skills. You want someone confident, who won’t feel threatened by other players on the team and tends to ask why and how a problem occurred, rather than placing blame. You hardly want to find them in their office, as they’re meant to be boots on the ground — understanding your business function inside and out. Finally, they should also be organized!  

Pro tip: As a startup, you’ll have an added list of traits to look for in your candidates, too. 

How to Hire an Operations Manager

5. Be patient.

We hate to be cliché, but as the saying goes: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was your startup. The key to hiring an operations manager is to be patient! While your recruitment strategy (or perhaps, fractional hiring team?) should help expedite finding and landing the perfect candidate, you still don’t want to pull the trigger too soon and hire the wrong person. However, there is one moment when you don’t want to be patient, and that’s when you’ve found the perfect candidate. It’s a competitive market, and a positive candidate experience revolves around a quick turnaround between application, interview, and offer letter. So, when it comes to closing, do it quickly, or that dream operations manager will get snapped up by a different company.  

If you have any questions about how to hire anyone for your team, set up a recruitment strategy, or get a competitive edge for hiring in 2022, drop us a line! We’re happy to help with whatever your startup might need to both grow and successfully manage that growth.  



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