Online-Business-Success-FrustrationHaving trouble filling your staffing needs at all levels of your business? Yes, many people in the service and construction industries are having the same (wonderful) problem these days. The economy is doing better and after the way things were 5 or 6 years ago, it actually feels pretty good to have this problem again. Except now, how do you solve it? Even if it seems like this is just a short term problem, your business needs to prepare for the long term as well. Here is an easy guide to give yourself some tools to gauge on how healthy your internal staffing pipeline is.

The “2 Up” Rule

Question Marks4Do you know if the next field tech or crew person you just hired will be ready to be a division or branch manager sometime in the future? Sometimes you may feel that way on a really good hire, but in reality you won’t know, at least not for awhile anyway. For someone to move up from a field position to a management position is usually a long term process, and over time a lot of things can change. You hire someone to meet your current needs but also hope that there is growth potential with each new employee, but how much potential is enough? This is where I use the “2 Up” rule: how many of your employees have the potential to move up 2 levels from their current position.

People_PipelineWhy it Works

The “2 Up” rule works because it is simple, realistic, and can be measured pretty accurately. Even if your company is still young and growing with only a few levels between an owner and the most basic entry level position, the system works. Think of where your company could be in the next five years and envision the different levels of staff you will need. If you aren’t sure, look at a larger company in your field and see how they have constructed their structural hierarchy and use those levels to start.

How Soon do you Know an Employee Meets the “2 Up” Rule?

Most people hired will want to progress up from where they started, and hopefully you have hired them because you see some growth potential in them. But at times you are just as happy with someone who meets the current requirements of the open position at hand. For both situations how soon do you really know if they meet the 2-Up rule? I wouldn’t rush the determination on a new hire or someone who was just recently promoted. You are looking for a good measurement of the rule, not a rushed one.

CandidatesHow do you Determine if an Employee Meets the “2-Up” Rule?

You are trying to measure each employee on their potential to move up 2 levels, not if they currently meet all the requirements for those next 2 levels. Relying on your own judgment and the judgment of your managers will be a significant factor in coming to a yes or no decision. Having job descriptions for all your current positions (and some rough guidelines for future ones) will help. From the requirements listed on the job descriptions create a checklist to see:

  1. How many requirements the employee already meets for the next position levels.
  2. Where and how much more training they will need to meet those requirements.
  3. What areas do they just need additional time in learning your company’s structured processes, procedures and systems.

By using these simple checklists you will have a system that helps to support you and your managers judgment calls.

Use the “2-Up” Rule to Guide the Company’s Training and Development Program

IMG_0834The “2-Up” rule is also useful for creating a company’s training and development system. Who do you train and what you need to train them on is often one of the initial obstacles in developing a successful training program. You don’t want to train people too far over their current positions and you also want training programs to be productive for everyone involved. Grouping training subjects into areas that only span a few skill levels will keep your training programs focused and prevent people from getting lost or disinterested if a subject is too far above or below their current experience level. Again, if your company is small or just starting out there may not be a lot of separation in what everyone needs training on, and that’s OK as long as you identify when your training becomes too broad and training programs become unfocussed.

Sales-Meeting2Incorporate the “2-Up” as Part of the Growth Goals in Performance Reviews

Once again, this is a great way to provide guidance for growth goals to employees during performance reviews. Having formalized growth goals as part of the performance review is way to quantify an employee’s progression and should provide great data for the company and the managers giving the reviews when they structure a developmental plan for each employee. Not only will a good performance review formalize what habits and skills an employee needs to correct or improve on, but it should also create accountability for the company and its managers to support the employee’s growth plan.


“Things that get measured get done.” The purpose of this process is to have a system that produces measurable results. The first step is to categorize and group together the different levels of your business’s structural hierarchy. This may look like:

  • Entry Level/Crew Members
    • Crew Leaders
      • Field Managers
        • Department Managers
          • Division/Branch Managers
            • Executive Levels
              • C-Suite

2UP_FunnelThere may be different job levels and descriptions within each level, at the entry level there may be different positions of Crew Member, Skilled Crew Member and Leadman. For Crew Leaders there may be both a ‘Junior’ and ‘Senior’ crew leader position within that level, and so on. When measuring each level you will look at both total numbers and a percentage of employees that meet the “2-Up” rule.  If there are 50 people in the crew member level and half meet the “2-Up” rule you have measurements of both 50% and 25(quantity) within that level. Each level is going to have different percentage and quantity requirements due to having fewer staff members at each ascending level. You can now set minimum goals for each level that can be based on any number of business factors including:  growth expectancy, attrition rates, efficiency improvements, technology initiatives, equipment upgrades, etc.  I have included an illustration of a template we developed for this purpose. Your business now has a system that is quantifiable that will be a critical to every aspects of business planning including: HR/recruiting, acquisitions, sales/marketing, budgeting, asset or equipment purchasing, and most importantly- allocations for training & staff development.