When you establish a new business, your aim is for it to grow and be successful. The exact mechanics of how to achieve that, however, are often tricky to pin down. Lots of startups get off the ground but then flounder when it comes time to scale.
Expanding a company is a time of significant change. There’s far more to it than adding more and more staff, sitting back, and waiting for revenue to grow. As a business owner or leader, you need to think hard about how to manage a growing team.
When you scale a company, you need to hold on to what’s made you successful enough to think about expanding. You also neAll Postsed to embrace change and find the most effective way to manage a larger team, with a more diverse set of responsibilities.
The balancing act is not an easy one to achieve. If you can get a proper handle on your team as it grows, though, you can oversee a successful and sustainable scaling period. We’re going to share seven tips to help you manage and shape your team as your company grows.
Tips for Managing a Team in a Growing Company
No two businesses are the same. There’s no hard and fast recipe for successful scaling. What will work for your firm depends on your niche, your workforce, and many other factors besides. It might be something as simple as employing scheduling software for small business. You may need to make more wide-ranging changes.
The following seven tips aren’t an exhaustive plan for managing any growing team. They’re hints and advice to help you find your way. Take from them what you will, and chart a path to success that works for your business.
Establish a Company Culture
When you scale your company, you still want it to be your company, only more substantial and more productive. That means you need to understand precisely what makes your business unique. Pinpoint the values that are central to your organisation. The best way to do that is to define and establish a company culture.
Your company culture is the creed by which your firm lives and works. It comprises the principles and behaviours that create the individual environment of your business. With a robust company culture, you have a thread to follow throughout the scaling process.
As your business grows, you can get guided in your decision making by your culture. When hiring new staff, for instance, you have a new criterion on which to judge candidates. You can assess whether they fit your organisation’s culture, as well as if they have the right skills.
Alongside aiding you in growing your firm, a distinct culture has more beneficial effects. Candidates for jobs see culture as a deciding factor in choosing between vacancies. With a strong ethos defined, you’ll be able to attract a better standard of new team members.
A robust organisational culture is one that boosts success. 82% of respondents to a significant Deloitte survey stated that culture is a potential competitive advantage. When growing and managing your team, culture should always be on your mind.
There are a few simple things you can do to protect your firm’s culture while scaling:
- Make culture part of the hiring process – When taking on new team members, think about how they fit the company ethos. No matter how qualified a candidate is, don’t hire them if they’ll disrupt the rest of your team.
- Create & sustain company traditions – Traditions or rituals can tie your organisation to its beginnings. Try to keep these intact even as your firm grows. This can be something as simple as a monthly team trip to the pub on a Friday night.
- Teach & be proud of your company culture – When you onboard a new team member, make sure to tell them about your business ethos. Show them you’re proud of how your firm runs, and that you expect them to reflect your values.
Understand the Importance of Accountability
Accountability is one of those business buzzwords that gets used far too much. When it comes to managing a growing team, however, accountability is vital. Let’s drill down into exactly what it’s all about.
To be accountable is to take responsibility. It’s to accept ownership of actions and decisions and to take blame or credit for the outcomes. In a growing business, it’s critical to foster a strong sense of accountability. That doesn’t only mean rebuking team members for mistakes or failures, however.
Accountability can – and should – also be a positive aspect of your workplace. When delegating tasks to employees, give them actual ownership of the activities. Explain how their work will fit into what the company is aiming to achieve. Then, provide them with the space to get the job done. That won’t only help motivate staff; it will also let you ID those true leaders amongst your team.
Recognising and rewarding success is another element of accountability. Show your team that you see and appreciate good work. That will boost employee satisfaction and engagement. Happy and engaged workers, as we all know, are the most productive kind.
Whatever your niche or business model, there are a few simple things you can do to recognise success:
- Flag up notable achievements in team meetings or company newsletters.
- Reward employees who meet or exceed targets.
- Introduce healthy competitions to encourage staff to outperform one another.
- Buy a round of drinks at the monthly outing, if your team hits its goals.
Think About Structure & Hierarchy
When you set out in business, you probably had a small team. It may even have been a team of one. In those circumstances, ideas of corporate structure and hierarchy will have seemed ridiculous. As your organisation grows, though, you have to start thinking about such things. Even if the idea of doing so leaves you cold.
Many small business owners naturally prefer a flatter organizational structure. They like the idea of giving equal weight to the ideas and strategies of all team members. That’s fine in theory, but often creates problems in practice.
If people don’t know who they answer to or whose decision is final, productivity suffers. You end up with situations where team members are unsure of their duties. Or worse, where unnecessary work gets done. Ultimately, many workers prefer a hierarchical structure.
Clarity is the main advantage of a hierarchical structure. Employees like to know where they stand and what their expectations are. What’s more, with a clear hierarchy, they know there’s space for progression.
You don’t have to implement a complicated company structure. As your team grows, you can divide it into sub-teams with defined leaders. Doing so creates a chain of command and makes it easier to delegate larger projects. You can, after all, give a sub-team total ownership of a project. Their leader is accountable for that task, and you can be available for general oversight.
Trust the Leaders in Your Team
When you establish a company structure, you give leadership responsibility to some members of your team. You need to ensure you entrust this responsibility to the right people. The leaders in your organisation must be both highly skilled and committed to your company culture.
What’s equally important is to trust the leaders who you choose. Small business owners often struggle with delegation. If you’re used to being personally involved with all decisions, taking a step back is tricky. It’s vital, though, that when you’ve given team members extra responsibility, you don’t undermine them.
The leaders of your sub-teams have to have ownership of their workers’ projects. You shouldn’t circumvent them and start giving instructions directly to their staff. That’s a recipe for mixed messages, confusion, and resentment.
What you need to do is to empower and support your leaders to do the best possible job. That means being clear on their responsibilities and objectives. Make sure they know what you expect from them, and then step back and give them the room to deliver. Your role is to provide oversight, advice, and big picture thinking when required.
Define Clear Practices & Processes
When your business reaches a certain size, your influence diminishes. You won’t be able to work with or speak to every new member of your team. That means you can’t explain to them just how you want them to handle their daily tasks and duties. To ensure things get done as you wish, you’ll want to define practices and processes.
Documenting the procedures that are key to your firm helps keep all team members on the same page. It helps new employees learn their duties more quickly. Having defined processes also ensures that tasks get handled the correct way. That’s no matter who’s responsible for them.
There are several things you can do to develop and define your firm’s systems and processes. The following is a handy step-by-step suggestion as to an excellent way to proceed:
- Get your existing team members to list their key responsibilities.
- Have those team members detail the processes and procedures for completing their duties.
- Set up a centralized system for storing and sharing those processes. Scheduling or project management software may be helpful in this regard.
- Give new team members – either on-site or remote – access to your system as part of the onboarding process.
6. Maintain Strong Lines of Communication
As a business expands, communication can get more fragmented. When you’ve got a team of five, it’s easy to keep in contact regularly. You’ll all know what the others are working on. With a much larger group, communication won’t come as naturally. You’ll have to make a sustained effort to keep lines of communication open.
It’s a good idea to remind your team members that you’re available if they need you. You may also want to encourage them to share ideas both with you and with one another. Innovation from within is an excellent way for a business to develop. It will also help create more solid team cohesion and camaraderie.
In the same vein, scheduling regular meetings or check-ins is also a smart way to go. Make sure you engage with your sub-team leaders and that they do so with their subordinates. Open lines of communication mean you’ll spot issues or problems sooner. They’ll also help you to grasp new opportunities as they arise.
7. Innovate & Embrace Change
It’s natural to look back with fondness at the early days of your company. Whether they were or not, you’ll often think of them as halcyon days. If you’re serious about scaling, though, you have to accept that things will change. More than that, you need to embrace changes and see the positive impacts they bring.
Welcoming new members to your team can bring additional skill sets to your company. That can help you to diversify and explore new opportunities. More change is liable to come from these new avenues, but it could be vital to sustainable growth. That’s why you shouldn’t hold on too tight to those early memories of your firm.
That doesn’t mean to say that you should forget where your company comes from. We’ve already discussed the importance of a defined culture that you can maintain. Innovation and a willingness to change, though, are what help firms to grow and succeed.
A Strong, United Team is Vital to Scaling Successfully
Scaling a business is a challenge. Periods of growth are times of upheaval, and the scale of your task can be intimidating. Managing your team well helps you chart the choppy waters to sustainable growth. That’s what will make the scaling process worthwhile. A growing organisation presents different management challenges.
To keep your team on track, you need to meet these challenges head-on. Make sure you define your company culture and key processes. Build a robust organisational structure and maintain clear communication throughout it. Do all that, while embracing the changes coming your way, and your business will flourish and grow.
Originally published Apr 09, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023