Most small enterprises tend to grow in an organic manner in the initial years. Often one finds that the owner tends to be the guiding light and his vision and energy drive the growth of the company. Consequently even in hiring it is the owner who tends to drive the process, often personally interviewing every viable candidate and making the final decision on whom to hire. While this process works in the initial stages, when the company is seeking to make a significant jump in turnover, it will require a more structured approach to team building and management.
There are several challenges that a small business will face at the point when it is seeking structured growth. In the traditional model, the initial team members would tend to be lower skilled and motivated predominantly by monetary factors. Most management skills would also have been developed on the job. Often the Domain expertise for the company’s core business areas would rest with the owner. At the inflexion point, often new skills and domain expertise are required to drive the growth of the company. Relying solely on the existing team’s skills and expertise for this growth is a recipe for failure.
Thus while one needs to look beyond the existing talent pool, to bring in people with the requisite skills, the nature of hiring will be fundamentally different from the earlier methods. In order to attract skilled professionals with new domain expertise it will not be sufficient to offer monetary incentives. Often these people are looking for both personal and professional growth and thus the role and incentive package has to be structured in a manner that speaks to this need. One has to ensure that to trigger growth, the new recruits are entrepreneurial in nature. While they need not be as risk-taking as the owner, they will still need to be open to trying out new things.
By recruiting people with an entrepreneurial streak, the company can give them an opportunity to pursue their dreams by allowing them some freedom to run their own teams, and manage their own products and services. This will allow the employee a de-risked opportunity to run their own business unit, thus ensuring that they will put in the requisite effort to grow the business and achieve the company’s goals.
While expanding the team, a couple of things need to be kept in mind. Team members who have been with the company longer, might see the onboarding of new employees with roles and responsibilities that they might desire as a failure of the company to recognize their loyalty. Thus it is important to ensure that before the new team is recruited, a restructuring of the organization chart is undertaken, with clearly defined roles, responsibilities and growth paths for existing and new employees.
It is highly recommended that the team restructuring, recruiting strategy and new incentive packages be worked out by an external HR Consultant, rather than by the owner themselves, as their experience allows them to avoid some of the common mistakes that can destabilize teams.
About the author: Krishna Kumar is a Bangalore-based Leadership Coach who works with C-level executives in their growth journey. An IIT-IIM graduate, Krishna runs a premier tennis academy in the city and uses nuggets from sports in his coaching programs under the aegis of the Intrad School of Executive Coaching. He was recently elected to the Board of Governors of the International Association of Coaching (IAC).