CFO Network

Building People Strategies for Growth – Getting the skills and culture right

Feb 19, 2024
People Network Articles

Building People Strategies for Growth – Getting the skills and culture right

There is nothing we love more than working with growing businesses. We have witnessed some remarkable growth stories over the past few years – the most successful stories have been where the people strategy has grown ahead of the results. Existing people have developed and new people have been recruited to lead and populate evolving structures, bring new skills, contacts, and ambitions. Maintaining all that has been positive in the original culture, and values is just as important as evolving. There are usually new challenges to cultural alignment, leadership transitions, and collaborative intricacies.

We work very closely with all our clients to ensure that the right considerations are taken before bringing in new people and that the first few months are a 'soft landing' for the business and the new hire. We spend time researching and speaking to experts in every niche area. Paula Brockwell has been a close contact of ours for over 20 years. She is the Founder of the Employee Experience Project - focussing on how businesses can create the right culture and behaviours for success during growth.

Paula shared some practical strategies for assisting your business in reaching new heights:

“Business growth is a beautiful thing - as a business owner, we get to experience the joy of seeing our ideas and hard work flourish. However, growth brings unique challenges - typically the business we have built to this stage is not quite the one we need to push into the future.

Below I explore how the demands your business faces will evolve through growth and help you consider how to anticipate and proactively address the associated people issues, so you have the right type and tone of behaviours you need to help your business soar.

Common Growing Pains

Cultural Misalignment: The shift from a small to a larger business can strain the intimate, familial environment. Maintaining a sense of connection to the business mission is crucial. Communication methods may change, but ensuring consistency in feeling heard and valued is key.

Leadership Approach Mismatch: As the company grows, leadership styles need to evolve. Founder-led businesses often start with a directive style, but this may hinder talent growth. Leaders must proactively map out how their style will change through growth stages and delegate to avoid burnout.

Collaborative Challenges: The expansion brings more specialized roles, increasing the risk of silo working. Adding specialist roles can lead to reduced collaboration. Consider team structures and goal-setting approaches that encourage co-working.

Proactive Strategies for Cultivating the Right Culture

Define Your Ideal Culture: Understand the behaviours needed for growth and translate them into the culture you want. Create a culture playbook and consider key business factors when defining your ideal culture.

Explain the Change: Clearly communicate why the culture is shifting, how it will impact colleagues, and the opportunities for growth and development.

Build Your EVP and Brand: Foster colleagues' understanding of what's in it for them. Clearly articulate the benefits, both practical and personal, to maintain their commitment during the evolving process.

Work on People Systems and Processes: Upgrade and future-proof your people processes, focusing on onboarding, communication routines, and systems, as well as performance management mechanisms.

Remember, the culture and behaviours that brought your business success may need adjustment in the future. Be proactive, systematic, and conscious in evolving your business to minimize challenges and ensure continued growth. If you're experiencing growing pains, pause, reset, and realign with your teams to drive positive change. You can evaluate your current culture and growth risks with our free tool."

In summary

Navigating the complexities of business growth requires a proactive and strategic approach to cultural evolution. The identified growing pains and suggested strategies underscore the importance of foresight in fostering a dynamic and adaptable organisational culture. Embracing change, effective communication, and investing in people processes are pivotal to sustaining a positive and collaborative work environment during periods of expansion. By defining and actively cultivating the ideal culture for future success, businesses can not only weather the challenges of growth but also thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape. The key lies in being responsive, fostering employee engagement, and continuously refining organisational practices to align with the ever-changing demands of a growing enterprise.

Nik Pratap
Lorraine Pratap
Elise Walsh
Gillian McBride
Nicola Worrow
Joe Ingham
Amanda O’Neill
Karen Caswell
Dale Spink
Charlotte Morgan-Smith
Gemma Hutchinson
Jess Lister
Alex Mostyn-Jones
Alex Mostyn-Jones
Claire Screeton
Claire Screeton
Euan Begbie
Euan Begbie
Marie Carroll
Marie Carroll
Lucy Miles
Nicola Beach

Other articles