Are your team fit for growth?

‘What got you here, might not get your there!
Alice Ackroyd 360 Growth Partners

The very DNA that drove you to start your business keeps you focused on success. You may well have surrounded yourself with like-minded individuals who have been with you through thick and thin and mucked in to get the job done. Trust and friendship create a great partnership for growth, but are they enough to take your business to the next stage?

Your emerging management team

As your business grows you will have delegated responsibility and accountability to an emerging team of managers. In turn your team will have stepped up to make decisions, reacted to customers needs, nurtured employees and created systems and process for their function. But are you setting them up for success? The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that in growing businesses managers are often appointed because they have been there the longest. Have you appointed on that basis? Did you consider if they had the required skills and knowledge to be effective?

Is there a gap?

Drive, passion and a shared vison for the business could soon wane if managers find they lack the skills and knowledge to perform. So, what can you do to help? Start with the end in mind. What functional specialisms and skills do you need and where are the gaps? Are they in marketing, business technology, operations or regulatory and are there any areas where you don’t have coverage? Consider the skills, knowledge, passion and potential of your team. This gap analysis gives you a springboard for discussion with individuals, and you can both devise a development plan to bridge the gaps. What’s it like to work in your company? Consider the climate you are creating and the culture you’d like to nurture. Ken Blanchard said, ‘The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people.’

So how can you spend that time wisely?

They don’t know what they don’t know! Growing up with a business may mean some of your team have a restricted view of their function. You can help widen their perspective and open their eyes to ‘best practice’ in their field. Is there a professional organisation you or they can join? Is there a specialist in another business willing to share their insights, or act as a mentor? Or is there simply a digital resource to develop knowledge. ACAS, for example, have a great range of free people management resources.

Feedback is the breakfast of champions

To quote Bill Gates ‘We all need people who will give us feedback, that’s how we improve’. Feedback is a great way of helping people develop knowledge, confidence and ability. Creating a culture where honest, open and respectful feedback is asked for, welcomed and even expected ensures great performance is recognised and poor performance is dealt with, enabling the individual to learn and move on. Be careful of sugar coating feedback. Most people benefit from honest and constructive criticism and will respect you for taking the time to provide it.

Is your team fit for the future?

What if you’ve done all you can, and the stretch is just too great for them in their current role? The friendship and commitment that has developed makes this a tough question, but a necessary one. It might be uncomfortable, but not facing the facts will create issues for the individual, the performance of the business and for your team.

Set people free!

Don’t fall foul of being over protective, a respectful honest conversation where you genuinely and collaboratively focus on the best solution for the individual and the business may set them free. You could even find yourself supporting them in their quest for another role, in or out of your business. Creating the right conditions for the growth and development of your team will increase their commitment and performance but making those tough people decisions early on will be key to your future success.