Growing a business is not without challenges, and doing so strategically is tougher still. But there are steps you can take to ensure successful expansion while retaining the culture and values you’ve worked so hard to develop.
If growth is your goal, it’s important to first look at your company’s organisational structure. Having the right people in the right positions is critical to building a strong business. Too often, a company will focus on growth and lose sight of how individual employees need to be woven in with the new organisation. The key to a successful growth strategy is to expand your workforce strategically and ensure new employees fit culturally within your organisation.
Six Best Practices
The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that only half of small businesses will make it to their five-year anniversary. Lack of planning, over expansion and poor management are often cited as some of the top reasons that companies fail, yet each of these can be easily overcome with basic strategy. Even minor mistakes can affect your company’s direction and momentum. Here are six simple steps you should take to effectively grow your business.
1. Get a complete and current view of your organisation.
Before you begin making changes to your organisational structure, you need to see exactly where additional staffing is required and where inefficiencies in your current structure exist.
Create an organisational chart. Org charts help you easily organise and analyse the reporting structure within your organisation. Look for areas where your company may be short staffed or where too many reports may cause managerial inefficiency. See where multiple dotted-line reports might cause confusion within an organisation and how restructuring might make your company more efficient.
Look for organisational inefficiency. Do you have managers reporting to other managers or directors with widely varying headcounts within their departments? Perhaps you could fill vacancies in one department with overflow from another. As a small business, you could see an opportunity to combine two or more openings into a hybrid position to save budget and headcount. Analyse your organisational reporting structure before making changes and you will be better positioned to grow strategically.
2. Plan for workforce changes.
See how growth will affect your organisation, lay out new openings and see where added talent or leadership is necessary.
Determine the skill sets your company needs. Examine your current talent pool and decide whether you should bring in additional staff for each group or whether an internal promotion might make more sense. Perhaps your marketing manager is great at traditional methods, but you want to expand the organisation’s footprint online as well. Decide whether you might be able to train an internal candidate or if you would like to hire external expertise.
Create efficiencies out of redundancies. Do positions in similar departments complete similar tasks? Create efficiencies within your organisation by combining positions or departments. For example, if sales support and customer service require the same skill sets, consider combining the department to simplify the reporting structure.
Develop lines of succession for your organisation. Once you have developed a more efficient structure, you can plan for succession within your organisation. In times of quick growth, companies can experience added turnover, which might leave key areas of your business without leadership. Determine how interim or permanent replacements can be planned for your strategic leadership roles to ensure continual growth and leadership through your expansion phase and beyond.
Communicate growth plans with your org chart. Once you have had a chance to layout your new organisation, use org charts to help communicate changes to your leadership team for feedback or approval. Once your team has finalised the plan, you can use the same org charts to quickly and easily explain changes to employees and how roles or departments will be affected.
3. Create detailed job descriptions to hire the right people.
Whether you’re a seasoned HR professional or the hiring manager, writing a job description that will bring in your ideal candidate can be difficult.
Research current job openings. Software programs can get you started on the right foot and save hours of research by listing basic skills and functions associated with many job titles. Some also feature question-and-answer-based wizards to customise your job description to your company’s exact needs. You can also search online listings like CareerBuilder.com for the titles your organisation is looking to fill to find relevant competencies and skills.
Create an accurate job title. The first – and sometimes only – part of a job posting applicants see is the job title. If you make the title too vague or entry-level, you could be overwhelmed by unqualified applicants. Make the title too specific or senior-level and you might limit candidates from applying. Determine what level of responsibility this role will have within your organisation and research the compensation similar types of positions are receiving in your region, and adjust the title accordingly.
Develop your posting and review for compliance. Make a list of the job requirements and skills most relevant to the position and structure the information into a job posting format. Rank the list in order of importance of skills or relevance of job requirements. Be aware that your job posting may need to comply with applicable labour laws and regulations, and take steps to ensure compliance.
Plan for interview questions. Write interview questions in advance to organise your thoughts and develop a standard candidate rating system in case of multiple-round interviews. If your expertise is not in the same area as the opening, enlist experts from within your network to discuss the qualities and skills you should seek in applicants.
4. Guide new employees with company policies.
Onboarding large numbers of new employees can change the culture of success that your company has worked so hard to develop. Communicate expectations to new employees to maintain a productive and professional environment.
Set expectations with policies. Does your company offer casual Fridays? Do you expect employees to maintain strict office hours or can they work from home? One reason employees leave is incompatibility with company culture. Creating company policies can help give new employees a look inside the company to gauge their fit before committing to an employment relationship.
5. Track and manage new employee goals.
A top reason for employee turnover is a lack of direction or motivation. Track and document development and goals to help improve employee focus and decrease turnover.
Create 30- or 90-day probationary reviews to document, provide formal feedback or correct initial concerns in newly hired employees. Studies show that an employee’s first 90 days will impact their success within your organisation and early reviews will set expectations that their development and goals will be tracked, helping to motivate employees to increase productivity. Reviews also help employees see how their work contributes to the overall strategy and success of the business, helping to provide perspective and increasing morale.
Set up long-term professional and developmental goals and establish ongoing employee reviews to maintain employee momentum. Once employees have completed their probationary period, work with them to develop long-term goals to maintain their enthusiasm and continue to direct their efforts. If possible, provide documented, written feedback monthly or quarterly to help guide and develop your employees.
6. Manage new employee workflow.
Managing a large group of new employees can be a difficult task, especially during growth. Onboarding new employees while continuing to expand and perform daily business duties can seem overwhelming.
Create daily lists of employee-related tasks to help organise your thoughts as well as provide direction for new employees. Look into software that can help track employee tasks and store new hire documents for regulatory compliance.
Businesses looking to expand have proven that their strategies, processes and workforce have what it takes to succeed, but in an unfavourable economy, missteps could be catastrophic. Taking the right steps to fully examine your current organisational structure before you make changes can minimise unnecessary hiring. Company policies can help ensure candidates fit the company culture before they’re hired, while the right job description and title can help bring the right candidates to your door.
Once hired, proactive steps need to be taken to ensure new-hire success. From probationary review processes to annual appraisals and regular task management, engaging a new employee from the beginning has shown to increase morale, productivity and retention.
Overall, your growth process needs to be thoughtful and deliberate to continue success throughout your company.