10 steps to growing your business
People are catalysts for business growth. At any stage of growth, it’s important the people in your organisation are driven, motivated and highly skilled so they encourage and support the growth of your business.
1. develop your people strategy
You’ll be aware of the importance of goal setting in building a successful business. It provides you with a clear idea of where
you’re going and what you’re going to do to get there. Too often though, these high-level strategic plans are based on sales
forecasts or profits, without a clear idea of what your people strategy needs to look like to get there.
Your business strategy needs all the relevant supporting pillars if it is to be achieved. One of these pillars is “people”. Building a people strategy which underpins your business plan will ensure your business has the people, the skills and the motivation to succeed.
To get started, we recommend you:
• review your existing organisational structure, HR practices, processes and areas of concern (eg long-term sickness, inability to attract the right people, high staff turnover etc.)
• create an RAG plan (Red, Amber & Green) for your new aims and objectives, along with timescales
• plan your actions for the next 12 months – your focus for the first 12 months should be to refine and develop the link between the business plan and people strategy
2. put the right people in the right roles
A big problem in businesses (particularly smaller ones) is that although people start with a job title and set of responsibilities, over time these will morph to reflect their natural strengths and preferences – this may work well for the individual but there is a risk important tasks and activities needed for business growth are overlooked.
Does your businesses plan take into account what the organisational structure needs to look like in 3-5 years’ time? At strategic level, it’s often overlooked. Senior managers unequivocally favour sales targets and profit figures in their plans, rather than considering the realities of your team.
As you begin to expand, it’s vital you have a picture of what your team needs to look like as you take on more business. We recommend you draw up the organisational structure you need to achieve your goals in 3-5 years’ time. Compare this structure to your current one; review areas requiring recruitment, identify staff potential, acknowledge skills gaps and highlight other potential issues which need to be addressed.
3. target, measure & review your key performance indicators (KPIs)
You’ll need to establish the core competencies required for every job role, so you can set KPIs. These KPIs help you track how your team are performing in relation to achieving your growth targets. Your competencies and KPIs should reflect your business’ culture and demonstrate what good performance looks like at every level.
You can establish these core competencies and KPIs from reviewing job descriptions and examining the responsibilities of each individual team member. Once established, core competencies and KPIs can be incorporated into your promotion and performance review processes.
KPIs and core competencies will allow you to create career development plans, which can be shared and discussed with staff; providing a level of transparency and motivation for progression throughout the business at every level.
4. develop your people
Personal development is fundamental in elevating your team to the highest level of performance. A high performing team operates with minimum intervention to achieve the long-term goals of the business. Without a highly focused and empowered team, there is a danger you are constantly firefighting and dragged in to deal with every problem.
Personal development comes in many forms, both internally and externally, and has far reaching benefits, beyond simply developing skills. Fulfilling potential (self-actualisation, in the words of Maslow), is a hugely powerful motivational tool, enabling your team to be highly satisfied with their career direction.
In some cases, skills already exist internally and these can be cascaded and retained through workplace mentoring. However, where key skills gaps exist in your business, external training or coaching may be a more suitable solution or even arranging a secondment (a period on loan to another organisation) could help you bring in positive skills and practices from elsewhere. All of these interventions will help individual and team development.
It will be no shock to you that businesses who invest in their people retain their key skills and outperform their competitors. It is vital your people strategy incorporates personal development as part of your long-term plan.
5. reward & remuneration
“The things that get rewarded get done”, says Michael LeBoeuf in ‘The Greatest Management Principle in the World’. Though, it’s important to realise that reward doesn’t have to focus on financial remuneration.
Increasingly, the companies that rank highly on the ‘Best Companies To Work For’ list are ones that integrate a total reward strategy. Total reward packages are those that encompass much more than just a pay packet; we’re seeing flexible benefits, increased trust, paid sabbaticals, agile and remote working.
This rounded approach to reward is more prominent in larger enterprises but in reality, will work in any size organisation. Pay has long been the centre of attention in reward strategies, as it is tangible and quantifiable, but rarely is it the primary motivator. You need to take into account what motivates your team to create a reward package that really drives, inspires and attracts the best talent to get to where you want to be.
6. introduce policies to share standards and keep compliant
Most people want to know where they stand; they want to be treated fairly, reasonably and consistently. If left to their own devices, each person develops their own understanding of what is required and what is not. Managers develop their own standards and benchmarks; people are expected to somehow absorb what is expected within the business.
By creating a standard set of policies and procedures, your team will know situations are dealt with consistently and fairly, so reducing the chance of ill-feeling and unfairness when situations arise. If these policies and procedures are reviewed on a regular basis you will also ensure you remain compliant with the UK’s constantly changing employment legislation.
Producing and distributing an employee handbook will help you gain this transparency and prevent problematic situations from arising. You can also use your handbook to communicate and strengthen your organisation’s culture.
7. recruit for growth
Utilising your job role descriptions, person specifications, responsibilities and key performance indicators, you should have a crystal clear view of what kind of person you are looking to recruit.
From this, you should be able to craft a structured, competencybased, interview question set to help you really uncover how well the candidate would fit into your business.
In competency based interviews, questions such as “please describe a situation where you have had to deliver a project to a tight timescale” are used to give the candidate the opportunity to demonstrate their ability through examples. In these interviews, you are looking for answers which follow the STAR framework (the Situation, the Task, the Action and the Result).
This gives you a clearer, more objective picture of what the candidate has done and how they think. By deciding beforehand what “good” looks like for the role, post-interview you can then evaluate whether the candidate matches the behaviours you are ideally looking for to help your business grow.
8. succession planning
From your desired organisational structure, you should be able to clearly see what areas of your team need to grow and where skill gaps could become an issue.
Your key team members of the future could already be in your organisation, therefore it’s important to identify the rising stars of your team and invest in them so they can reach their potential. This saves you the time and aggravation of externally recruiting and retains a highly valued individual.
You can devise and share career progression plans with individual team members to support them in achieving ambitious targets; you can develop your rising stars so they become key team members and continue to bring success to the business.
9. train management skills
Management is as much an art as it is a science and as such, there is no single style that every manager should follow. However, the scientific aspects can be gained as skills, so it’s incredibly important your management team are all aware of the techniques needed to:
• understand why employees can act in certain ways
• resolve workplace conflicts through effective communication
• delegate effectively
• increase accountability and responsibility
• manage people
• be aware of the commercial situation beyond their own department
These can be achieved through similar techniques to personal development and can be trained internally or externally. It’s essential your management team have the training and resources they need to learn and refine their management skills.
10. manage underperformance
Effectively managing members of staff who are underperforming not only deals with the problem directly but can have a positive effect on other members of their team. Having been aware of an individual’s underperformance, they may have also had to compensate by increasing their workloads.
It’s frustrating for team members when they believe underperformance isn’t being effectively managed, leading to wider spread demotivation. However, when underperformance is promptly dealt with, it enables managers/directors to gain credibility and increase productivity.
Employees who underperform may not understand what is expected of them and/or what is acceptable in the workplace. Dealing with these issues head-on allows everyone to work more productively and ultimately with greater focus and clarity.