How will you manage your people as your company grows?

Managing your team effectively

Congratulations! Your business is growing.

You’re doing more, making more money, hiring more people.

But still there’s one question that continues to niggle you.

How will you hang on to your lovely, friendly, close-knit culture and continue to get the best out of people once there are too many of them to fit around the one Christmas party table?

It’s not always easy – but the good news is that it’s perfectly possible if you’re prepared to invest a bit of time and thought.

Here are our tips on how to manage your team effectively as you grow:-

Understand your team

There can be an assumption, particularly in large corporates, that everyone in the firm is motivated solely by money and status. While for some people this is definitely true,for many others this just isn’t the case.

Get to know each team member personally and find out what will help each individual to feel valued and engaged. This could be something as simple as giving them more of a certain type of work, or flexible working hours, or training them in a particular area.

Then, for your most valued employees, find a way to make those things happen.

In almost all cases, the cost of accommodating most reasonable wishes will be far less than losing these employees and then having to find competent replacements.

Be generous!

In general it’s always worth thinking about what you can do for your team to make them feel valued and appreciated.

If you have good people who arrive on time every day and who work hard then you are actually already very lucky. Even if that’s the case, many managers still seem to find it easier to always focus on the negative.

Really small things, like a thank-you email or some chocolates or pizza, or giving someone the afternoon off after a hard week, can go a long way to showing themthat you’ve noted and appreciated their efforts.

Employment is a two-way process; if someone has stayed late when needed, don’t get funny when they need to take an hour off for a doctor’s appointment.

Always look forward

You may have been managing everyone yourself up till now but you will probably need other people to help you with this as the company grows.

It’s wise to select suitable candidates in advance and if they’re existing employees, give them the mentoring and coaching they need to turn them into great HR managers who are prepared for the changes that expansion will bring.

Management training is often either overlooked or done poorly, because most companies look at management the wrong way – as the default means of promotion for anyone who is reasonably good at their role.

In fact to become a good manager you will require a particular set of skills and personality traits which may be completely unrelated to the job youhave been trained for up until now.

So you need to find people with those skills and traits and then train them up. If you appoint someone without any training or people skills you’ll probably end up with a high team turnover which is never good.

Look at the alternatives

Equally, you need to have different methods of promotion and training in place for people who don’t want to be managers, so that they too still feel valued and appreciated.

It’s important not to take talented employees away from doing what they do best. You can always give your team members responsibility for particular projects or areas of the business, as opposed to for people – many employees love to feel ownership of something and to show what they can do even if they have no interest in running a team.

Perhaps you could support them in achieving a qualification they may want to achieve, or provide them the opportunity to train in areas they want to learn more about.

These don’t even have to be related to the business; the idea is to thank your employee for the things they do for you and to make working for you something that enhances their quality of life.

Hire the right people

Finding the right person for a particular position should always be more important than getting someone in quickly. You want people who share your values and vision and will fit into your team well. Pretty much nothing causes as much friction at work as difficult colleagues.

Create the right culture

Too many businesses have no team spirit; everyone is merely using the business as a vehicle for their own advancement and they just see their colleagues as rivals in the fight for promotion.

If you really want to get the best out of your team, they need to feel that they have a stake in the business and that they are working for something they believe in and which they want to succeed for its own sake.

Different departments need to talk to each other, not see each other as adversaries.

And let your people make mistakes without recrimination – it’s how they will learn.

Put your ego aside. People smarter than you are not a threat; in fact they are vital to make your business better.

Look inside

It’s important to strike the right balance between external appointments and internal promotion.

Companies often overlook the expertise of the people they already have and start hiring consultants or big-shot executives at vast expense for a job that  their own team could do just as well if not better. These big-shots often tend to have large egos, end up upsetting everyone and then rapidly leave and move on to what they think are greener pastures.

Not only does this cost you lots of money, it really annoys and frustrates your team.

It’s important not to go too much the other way though and offer internal promotions for the sake of it, because  a team member expects it or because they have been there for a very long time.

The one promoted should always be the best person for the job.

Find a great mentor

No one knows everything there is to know about running a business and you certainly don’t either.

Good mentors with entrepreneurial and managerial experience can help you by giving you the benefit of their business advice and their experiences, both good and bad.

Be prepared to learn

If you’re taking over another company, don’t make the mistake of assuming they’ll simply become subsumed into your operations. It’s likely that they have become successful for a reason. Try to retain their existing people where you can, listen long and hard to what they do well and learn everything you can from them – maybe even change your way of doing things to theirs.

At THP, we’ve dealt with innumerable businesses over the years; we’ve seen them expand rapidly, grow slowly, merge, buy each other, sell each other and unfortunately, sometimes we’ve seen it all go wrong. Indeed we have made a fair number of mistakes in this area ourselves over the years and learnt a great deal as a result.

So not only can we take care of all your finances and accounts for you as you get bigger and advise you on managing your business growth strategy, we’ve acquired a pretty good handle on the people management side of things too.

But please come and see for yourself – we’ve now got five offices in CheamChelmsfordWansteadSaffron Walden and London City.

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