If you look at any successful company, you'll find periods of rapid growth. But for every successful company, thousands of others fail because they're unable to sustain the high growth rate needed to thrive.
But what separates the successful from the unsuccessful? It hinges on building the right team.
Sink or swim
Talent makes a huge difference in whether your company sinks or swims. For most businesses, revenue is the biggest – and sometimes only – concern.
When you hit an accelerated growth period, though, you'll need an agile workforce with a wide range of skills. If your team is not properly structured to handle the changes, your business can stagnate. You must make efforts to find people who can put the right organizational structures, processes, and technologies in place. This will help you keep pace with sales while adding strategic insight regarding where your business should go.
Businesses that scale successfully often involve their top executives in all hiring decisions. They recognize the importance of having the right team. And to find the right team, they focus on bringing people who have the right skill sets and competencies together to thrive in a high-growth environment. By taking the right steps, you can overcome the challenges inherent in scaling and instead achieve success.
Ramp up for explosive growth
Even with the right team, scaling your business is easier said than done. It requires each facet of your operation to remain upright during the fits and spurts of accelerated growth. A tall order, no doubt, but it's within your grasp if you follow these five strategies.
1. Always be recruiting.
Successful companies are constantly recruiting. When demand spikes, you don't want to scramble to find people to handle the work. Instead, build a bench of candidates who are ready to go when you need them. And if you find someone great in the process, but the timing isn't exactly right to put them in place, make adjustments. You could create a new role, find an open position, or bring that person on as a consultant – just don't let them slip through your fingers.
The important thing is to identify the great people in your talent pool. To attract these people, develop and communicate a cohesive employment brand. Branding can make all the difference as your business grows and you look for talent.
Your company's reputation is built through every piece of collateral you put out, including job descriptions, employment announcements, career pages and more. That's why it's important to work with your marketing team to create content that accurately represents why your company is a great place to work – and every touchpoint should be a sales pitch for your organization. Ultimately, you want to capture your company's story and tell it consistently across every channel your candidates view.
When promoting your employment brand, you can amplify your efforts by getting your entire team involved. Think of your employees as ambassadors, promoting the company brand and getting the word out. If they do that, you're sure to become a magnet for talent and grow your candidate pool.
2. Hire for the right competencies.
Problem-solving skills, teamwork and initiative are the qualities most companies seek in talent, according to a recent survey. In a high-growth environment, initiative is especially important; employees will have to create solutions or put processes in place independently, often with limited resources. And when you're in a high-growth environment, you want resourceful employees who are able to do more with less, roll up their sleeves, and get the job done – no matter the amount of time, money, or manpower you have.
Problem-solving skills are equally imperative, because you need people who can develop creative solutions to reach your goals. During a high-growth period, you'll probably have a spike in demand. You'll need a team that can solve problems and reach solutions quickly to meet that demand. Additionally, hire people who are passionate about the work your company does. Employees will have to work long hours in a high-growth environment, but those long hours don't feel like work if you have a team that cares about what it's doing.
Though it's an overused term, agility is another important trait that determines success or failure for a high-growth company. Without a team that can quickly pivot and navigate challenges and opportunities, you'll be hard-pressed to stay relevant in the ever-changing marketplace and sustain long-term success.
Companies fail when they hire for experience instead of competencies. From leaders to managers to employees, be thoughtful about your hires. You want team members who can work together, motivate one another to take responsibility and make decisions quickly. Above all, hire people who will bring new strengths to the company and complement your existing skill sets.
3. Find real leaders.
Building a company from scratch requires a visionary management team. Find leaders who have the future in mind and possess foresight, expertise and a knack for distilling complex matters into simple terms. Hire managers who demonstrate the above competencies, can do more with less, and are committed to the success of the company and its employees.
Though this may sound obvious, make sure each person on your management team is a good listener. This can do wonders for productivity and morale. For example, a Salesforce study found that employees who feel heard are nearly five times more likely to be empowered to do their best work. Good ideas can come from anywhere, and your managers need to make sure people feel comfortable speaking up.
4. Commit to your team.
In high-growth companies, employees often do more work with fewer resources and support. To make sure your team members still feel supported, find creative ways to invest in their growth and career development. For example, you can send them to conferences or provide coaches and mentors. It might take extra effort on your part, but a Randstad study found that 58% of workers say their employers don't offer enough growth opportunities; another 57% say they'll need to change jobs to advance their careers.
If you're scaling your business, you're scaling people. Ensure your team grows with the company by offering training, benefits, and more. Your commitment to the team isn't just the right thing to do – it can solidify your competitive advantage from the start. After all, you need a good team to sustain high growth.
5. Communicate your plans.
Communication is the best way to prepare for the challenges of scaling. It can make or break the best of companies, even ones with solid teams and strong goals. Poor communication accounts for more than $37 billion in business expenses, and communication barriers cost organizations about $62 million a year in lost productivity. In a business that's scaling, productivity is everything.
To avoid these losses, communicate your change management plan to the whole team. Without the proper strategies and internal communication channels in place to get buy-in from stakeholders, the changes will have a ripple effect on the productivity of your company. People will be confused and reluctant to adapt to the modifications needed to sustain high growth. Role clarity plays a big part in this; make sure each team member knows how he or she is contributing to the short- and long-term success of the company.
Whether you're just starting your business or it's 20 years old, unlocking high growth comes down to one thing: getting the right talent. Your team will set you apart from the competition, and it will be the difference between sinking or swimming. By assembling the right team, you'll have no problem handling the challenges of high growth and making a splash in the business world.
This article was written by Sarah McCullough and Jill Greenblat.