Employee experience
3 minute read

Managing talent in high growth businesses

For most high-growth businesses, the biggest limitation to their growth is the rate at which they can grow their team, while still maintaining the integrity of the product and service they deliver.

High levels of recruitment can also be destabilising for the existing team, so it becomes even more important to properly manage the team you already have, as well as train up new staff.

The cost of losing staff

And as the business grows and new roles and hierarchies develop, so people will expect career progression opportunities. This is a tricky set of demands to juggle.

It’s self-evidently the case that the team makes the difference between success and failure, but often the extent of poor management, leading to low retention, isn’t understood as well. The cost of replacing entry level staff has been estimated at 30-50% of salary, rising to 150% for mid-level posts, and an astonishing 400% for high level or technical positions.[1]

This can quickly put an otherwise profitable business in the red. On the other hand, high engagement leads to proven higher profitability and productivity.[2]

Rapid recruitment problems

Tamara Littleton, founder of The Social Element has experienced the challenge of rapid recruitment. “We took on huge amounts of staff when we won a big new contract and we doubled the size of the company over a 6-month period. We have a virtual model, with remote workers, which meant we were able to segment the new people into separate digital areas and induct and train people and enthuse them, then integrate them slowly into the company by gently combining teams. The culture remained intact and we successfully doubled the size.”

A good induction ensures new members of the team integrate into the culture: understand the values and mission of the company and feel part of a community, but – as Tamara’s successful approach shows – doesn’t disrupt the existing team.

Managing existing staff

For managing existing staff, perhaps the most important aspects is managing their managers. The most common reason for employees leaving a role is poor management, whether that’s late or poorly run reviews, insufficient or unclear guidance about responsibilities, or any other of a host of possible issues.

In a high growth business, no one person can monitor the happiness and engagement of every single member of the team. But a focus on effectively managing the processes and approaches that your managers take is almost as good.

Another essential for employee satisfaction and retention is a good training programme, or training opportunities. Especially for millennials, this is a must-have. What’s more, the most talented employees in your business – the future leaders, who you really can’t afford to lose – will demand and benefit from training opportunities more than anyone.

Those future leaders will also expect promotion opportunities to match their developing skills and capabilities. The career pathways open to staff should match the training. But in a time of rapid growth this is a great chance to push and develop your most promising employees. High growth brings opportunities as well as challenges!

Finally, don’t be afraid to lose people quickly if it turns out they’re not right. Stuart Portus, founder of Portus Consulting, “delayed the inevitable” after taking on one wrong hire. But after he let him go, he found the whole team began to thrive. “The team is so much better now,” says Stuart. “We thought the team loved him, but we found after he’d gone that they really didn’t. We learnt the importance of going with gut feel. We’d rather wait to get the right person. And when we do get it wrong we act fast.”

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