After 10 years of operating without an assistant director, Ann Cooper, director of food services at Boulder Valley School District, is finally hiring one in 2018. Cooper says she’s ready to put her budget dollars toward the new role so she can start succession planning for the next director of the Boulder, Colo., foodservice program. However, a new hire with unprecedented responsibilities can shake up team dynamics and put everyone off balance. Check out Cooper’s tips for setting up new staff positions successfully.
1. Make a good case
Getting the position and budget dollars approved is one hurdle foodservice directors might encounter when creating fresh job titles, Cooper says. One reason the district’s chief operating officer approved the assistant director position is how Cooper framed the role. “Anyone who has been in a senior level for a number of years needs to plan an exit strategy,” she says. “That’s one of the ways you can work with the administration to see that through.”
2. Write a really, really good job description
A job description should be very specific and give applicants a feel for what the job is really like. “If it’s a tough job, you need to explain that it can be really hard and help candidates understand the reality,” Cooper says.
Looking at existing roles can help with developing new job descriptions. When writing the description for the assistant director role, the department looked at Cooper’s responsibilities as well as her district managers’ duties, and determined that the role would fall halfway between the two.
3. Think about how the role fits in
Cooper recommends directors focus on “recruitment, recruitment, recruitment” and not sell themselves short. However, the time post-hiring is an equally important stage in the onboarding process, she says. “One of the questions that a director should be asking is, ‘How does that person interface with the team?’” Share a plan with department staff about what they can expect when the new employee starts. Answering questions can also help get everyone on the same side, she says.