How to scale your team as you grow
It is almost 10 years since the last recession, and if one had to attribute a single word to describe the performance of the UK economy during the intervening period, that word would be ‘growth.’
Indeed, over 200,000 new businesses opened their doors for the first time in 2019, bringing the total number of registered SMEs to 5.9 million – up from 4.8 million in 2012 and more than double the figure for 2000. At the same time, the rate of growth among existing businesses is unprecedented, with employer hiring intentions showing no sign of slowing down.
But as a business scales, so does its team of people. For those with the responsibility of hiring, they now face the dual challenge of securing the talent that is needed in the here and now, whilst future-proofing the business to meet anticipated demand later on. Easier said than done? Actually, it’s not – providing you have an effective strategy in place, of course.
There’s so much of the unknown to contend with as a business scales. Here are some of the invaluable insights that we have gained by working with fast-growing businesses over the last 20 years:
Avoid hiring hesitation
Research has shown that in the excitement of seeing the order book fill up, business leaders will often expect more of their existing teams in a bid to keep costs down. But this can leave staff feeling overloaded.
Moreover, it increases the likelihood of the business experiencing higher than normal staff turnover, whilst negatively impacting its employer brand and ability to attract future talent. The most successful businesses hire fast, not slow.
Steer clear of ‘job creation’
We’ve seen it many times, a business has a loyal group of people who have been there from the start – the senior team respect them, and clients love them. They have been part of the journey so far, but that doesn’t mean they are the right people where the business is now heading.
Avoid creating new roles in an attempt to keep them on board – that is not good for you as a leader, the business or for the individuals in question. With growth comes the need to change – evolve – and ensure you have the very best talent in place to meet the increasing expectations of the business and its customers.
Plug the gaps
Ask any successful business leader and they will all say the same thing – they don’t have the answer to every question, but they have the people around them who can find it out for them. This applies to every level of the business.
For instance, critical to the success of any scaling business is its Marketing function, but does the existing team have the breadth of digital marketing, events management, business development or PR expertise that is needed to drive business growth over the next 12 months and beyond? It may be tempting to expect your current team to be a Jack of all Trades, yet the reality is they become the master of none. Hire in the expertise you need.
Grow your culture
There is a lot of focus on ‘company culture’ right now, and with good reason. To grow a business at scale means retaining your best talent. Key to this is ensuring that they work where they feel valued and respected, their contribution to the continued success of the business is recognised and appreciated, and the opportunities to realise their personal career ambitions are clear to see.
Growing businesses need people with the desire to grow with them, so make sure you partner with a recruitment agency who can unearth the motivations of the candidates they screen and marry these with those of the business itself. A sound cultural fit is critical to every successful hire.
Champion your brand ambassadors
It is said that it is more expensive to actively chase new business than it is to develop that which you already have. Word of mouth remains one of the most effective promotional tools there is, so consider introducing an employee referral scheme which can have the double impact of rewarding an existing employee and developing your talent pipeline.