Managing your people growth strategy

Once you have hit that accelerator pedal it's all systems go in terms of expanding your business.

You don't need us to tell you that nobody can predict exactly how fast this growth will be but those lucky few for whom it surpasses all expectations often find themselves with a whole new set of problems they never even considered.

Commonly known as growing pains, these can be such issues as running out of room, cash flow moving at a crazy pace and the biggest of them all; people problems.

Fast growth is a great people motivator

Most of us like to feel a part of something which is growing fast and really looks as if it is going somewhere. The problems can arise if you then realise you have the wrong people with you or that you simply don't have enough.

There are practical ideas that you can follow which will help you whether you are currently experiencing rapid growth or if your growth plans are still just that.

Taking time out to make sure you hire the right people may seem like a no-brainer but it's still an area which companies slip up on. It can be all too easy to rush the recruitment process if you are under pressure from your customers.

Bringing in the wrong people can be as detrimental to a business as being short staffed, so as impossible as it might seem you must take your time and make informed decisions for the right reasons, not merely to fill seats.

It is said that the first 100 employees you hire will be the most important to any business. If you are an SME looking to expand you may only have, for example, 10 employees and be looking to double your workforce.

Those extra 10 can work one of two ways; they can fit in perfectly with both the existing 10 and your company culture, so they can conflict on both accounts and turn a good team of 10 into a bad team of 20.

From the outset, you must be transparent with any prospective employees about your growth plans and the part you expect them to play in them. Joining a company which is on the up and up brings with it a many more changes in their job role than taking a position in a company whose growth has already reached fruition.

They must be prepared for the numerous reinventions their job, environment and structure will go through, and the extra effort they will have to put in to keep up with the pace.

You also want people on board who can think on their feet, are smart when it comes to project management and who can still produce the goods even if there is a temporary insufficiency in resource.

No matter how you recruit, or how quickly you do it, rapid expansion will at times leave you with a shortage of employees and/or funds so you must have people on board who can deal with this efficiently and get you through the bumps in the road.

As far as your existing staff go, you must take the time to reassure them as well and ease any worries or insecurities they may have about how their roles will be changing in the period ahead.

If ever there was a time a company had to pull together it's during a growth spell, and as captain of that ship it's your responsibility that everyone is pulling in the same direction.

Alex Avery, Senior Recruitment Consultant with Applause IT.