Five growing pains a company can avoid

It appears here in the UK we’ve just avoided going into a triple dip recession.  Hopefully from here on we’ll see healthy growth.  I’m certainly beginning to hear of businesses that are beginning to thrive again which is great.  However when companies or departments grow in size, in terms of the number of people involved, it inevitably means change to the way people behave and identify with the organisation.  Some people thrive on the change, whilst others find the transition really difficult.

businessman looking at growth curveBy recognising the issues that may happen when expanding the size of an organisation, a company can manage the transition in a more effective way; and bring the people that form the business along on the journey.  But what are the issues that can go wrong?  What do you need to look for?  Actually it’s not so much things going wrong, rather things happening to and around people without them planning or expecting it.  This blog outlines five of the issues that can occur – see my next blog for five more growing pains of a company to avoid.

Single points of knowledge, expertise or authority

When a company is small it is not uncommon for there to be key individuals in the organisation that are effectively experts in their role.  People naturally go to them to get answers or solutions to specific problems.

Over time this can present two problems: firstly the person in question may decide to leave.  This can be mitigated by having clear succession planning for key roles.  Don’t wait until the person has handed in his or her resignation letter; actively identify and train up additional people for the role.  Secondly, if the company is growing there may be more and more demands on the individual, including trivial queries that could have been handled by others.  At best the individual will struggle to service all requests and at worst he or she will get stressed and potentially go off sick at short notice.  Again one way of tackling this is to make sure there is succession planning in place.  Also if the role can’t be duplicated then putting an extra level of interface to get to the person and building up a knowledge base will allow many of the more trivial queries to be dealt with by others without actually requiring the time of the expert, freeing up the expert to deal with just the complex queries.

Promoting the wrong people

Just because someone has been around for a long time, was with the organisation from the start or a key player when the company was small, does not necessarily mean that they are the right person for senior positions in a larger organisation.  When creating new roles as a company expands, if considering promotion of people internally, not only check that they have suitable skills for the new position, but also ensure that they actually want the new position and all of what that new role entails.  If they don’t either redefine the role or find an alternative position for them.

New management proving their worth

If people are moved into new management positions or have been recruited from outside the organisation, there is a danger that they will feel the need to make their mark by making changes for changes sake.  This does not mean the new manager should not look for quick-wins; however it does mean that any knee jerk reactions should be considered carefully and the full effects of any changes considered.  Wherever possible, quick-wins should be designed to involve the whole team.

Loss of family feeling

Start-ups can generate a strong ‘family’ type feeling were everyone in the company together celebrate company successes and share the woes of any failures.  Employees are typically very engaged and can be very loyal to the organisation through feeling involved in the life of the new company.  As the company grows this feeling can be lost and the fun is lost.  It’s important as the company grows to develop an identity that everyone can relate to in order to maintain the sense of belonging.

Quick expansion

A very quick expansion in terms of numbers of people has to be managed well to ensure that the large number of new people are indoctrinated in the ways of the company to avoid losing its identity and values.  This includes ensuring that process and systems are formalised even though there was less need to do so in the smaller company.

Do you recognise any of the five issues outlines above?  Are they happening in your company?  If so, don’t panic; suitable interventions can help resolve the situation and avoid them turning into a crisis.  The important thing is to take action now before it’s too late.

Check out next week’s blog for five more growing pains a company can avoid.

Mike Jones specialises in developing Emotional Intelligence.  If you would like help to avoid the growing pains as your business expands call him now on +44 (0)1908 509088 or email mike@potentialmatters.co.uk.

About Mike Jones

Mike Jones is an executive coach specialising in developing Emotional Intelligence through transitional and performance coaching. You can contact him directly on +44(0)7747 011 589 or via mike@potentialmatters.co.uk

2 Comments

  • 29 Apr 2013 | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve definitely worked in organisations where points one and two have been prevalent. It can be massively demoralising/stressful but doesn’t take much to rectify as you say.

    • 30 Apr 2013 | Permalink | Reply

      The amount of effort to rectify it does depend on when the issue is identified. The longer it is left the more difficult it can be to overcome.

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