Managing people as a company grows

By Aliya Vigor-Robertson, co-founder of JourneyHR

Most companies are excited by the prospect of growth, but it’s important for leaders to know how to develop their business as it expands. Management might start by thinking about hiring more people or moving into a larger office space, but they also need to remember less obvious changes, like the impact that growth will have on people management, their culture and staff retention. In order to keep staff engaged as the company grows, there are some key points that business leaders should consider.

  1. Structure

A business structure that complements the culture will help to ensure that staff are being managed effectively. It should anticipate how the culture and processes may need to change as the company expands. The right structure will allow the business to grow but it is important for management to routinely check that they still have the right plan for optimal for success.

  1. Training

As the company expands, it’s important for employees to feel like they have opportunities to grow with the business. Allowing people to apply their skills in a setting where they will learn the most, whilst also giving employees the chance to take on new tasks, like people management, is vital in a growing company.

However, it’s important to remember that not everyone is suited to becoming a people manager. Providing parallel pathways to success, like allowing technical staff to become business experts, makes all employees feel valued and utilises everyone’s talents.

As businesses grow, it is important to make sure that people are aligned with the organisation’s goals and understand how their skills fits into the bigger picture.  People’s roles are bound to change and develop as the business expands, so employees need to know how their talents are contributing the company’s overarching purpose. As such, any training provided should include details of how each individual’s role fits into the wider company.

  1. Recognising staff

It’s often easier to reward employees for their hard work in a smaller business, since a new client win or project completion can usually be attributed to one person. However, as a company grows, it can be difficult to single out individuals for their hard work. A larger business may choose to create separate departments to handle things like new business, making it harder for one person to showcase their skills.

Leaders therefore need to balance rewarding individual staff with recognising the wider team’s involvement. They should also ensure that everyone has a fair chance of being rewarded for their work, regardless of what team they happen to be in. After all, if individuals feel valued for their achievements, it will lead to increased productivity for the entire company.

And rewards don’t need to be big showy bonuses or cash incentives either; they can be simpler things like an email of praise from the boss or giving someone the afternoon off after a hard week. The important thing is that staff feel recognised for their efforts.

  1. Succession planning

A small business can grow rapidly, which means that some employees may need to take on a leadership role at short notice. As a result, unless there’s a strong pipeline in place, fast-growing companies can suddenly find themselves without the right people to fill these roles and will struggle as a result.

Business leaders need to keep a close eye on which managers are ready to take on more responsibility, so that they have a steady stream of support for the future – rather than waiting until the need arises. These future managers should be coached and supported when the company is still small, so that managers are prepared for the changes that expansion will bring. It is also important that the company keeps the door open and regularly looks for new talent outside from outside the business as well.

  1. Communication

It may seem obvious, but poor communication can easily undo all the hard work that the business has put into managing its staff. Internal comms can often be easier in smaller businesses, as it seems more natural, and there tends to be a more open dialogue with senior management. As the business grows and more staff come on board, however, these lines of communication can often get crossed.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, management need to communicate the company’s purpose and vision effectively.  Employee engagement surveys can measure how well a business is communicating with the team and what they could be doing better. Staff engagement stems from clear communication and strong leadership, so it’s important to run these surveys regularly, with once a year being the suggested minimum.

These are all important areas to get right. Business growth can obviously bring huge benefits to a company, but it is vital that staff are still managed effectively as it expands. Strong leadership, regular communication, and careful planning can go a long way towards resolving the problems that often crop up when a business grows – but it’s important to start early, before these issues arise.