Working in a small business that is really going places you can’t help but be infected by the energy and positivity. Seeing the ideas develop from theory into practice, winning the first introduction, building relationships with new customers, successfully completing a project or sale; life moves at a fast pace and there is always something to do, some milestone to reach.
Along the way camaraderie and teamwork are almost a byword for success; people may have their nominal tasks but when ideas need thrashing out or there is a project push on the go then everyone mucks in together, all working for the success of the business. In these early days the culture is vibrant, relationships fluid and areas such as formal appraisals, performance reviews, behaviour and expectations seem like alien beings, if they are mentioned at all.
But the problem with a fast growth company is that it does grow fast, at times adding to the team in an almost exponential fashion. This is the danger time when people who weren’t part of the original start-up team begin to bring their own ideas and expectations into the business. Paying attention to the culture now becomes vitally important in order to avoid the very thing which made it special being washed away in the tide of newcomers.
HR to the fore
This too is the time when HR needs to come to the fore and their job isn’t easy. Somehow, they have to formalise HR processes in order to accommodate growing team numbers whilst at the same time maintaining the start-up culture which made the business so successful in the first place. This is where hiring for cultural fit allied to a strong induction process really come into their own.
The people whom you select not only have to be able to share and assimilate the values of the organisation, they also have to bring their own unique twist which will add to the strength of the growing business. So the induction process can’t simply be a matter of ‘here is your desk, here are the toilets.’ Rather, it has to be a full immersion in the aims and values, attitudes and ethos of the organisation.
For any business that isn’t easy, but particularly when you are bringing in new team members in order to fill a growing need the pressure is on to bring people up to speed as quickly as possible. However, skimp on the induction process now and you risk causing lasting damage not only to the culture of the business but also to its reputation and to the newly built relationships which you have with your customers.
When you are a fast-growing company you are the architect of your own success or downfall. Taking time with your new people is one sure way to keep the culture strong and to ensure that they will add their own strengths to your success.