Managing the People Side of Rapid Growth

“We’re growing so fast!” That’s one exultation with many different meanings depending on your perspective. For the C-suite and investors, it’s a shout for joy and an indication of organizational health, yet for People Teams, rapid growth brings with it managerial complexities and the necessity of new systems to keep your culture thriving and employees supported as you scale.

The way in which People Teams manage their workforce, both existing and new, as you grow will have serious implications on the long-term success of your company, and it all starts with who you hire.

Hiring fast may leave you furious

The allure of filling job recs quickly can easily overshadow the pitfalls of doing so. Avoid sidelining your standard hiring practices when you’re in hyper-growth mode even when (especially when) there is pressure from leadership to get butts in seats. 

It’s no secret that the infiltration of incompatible fits can wreak havoc on your culture, so while it might be tempting to hire fast over fit to meet organizational demands, it’s imperative that the people you bring into your organization aren’t to the detriment of your culture. 

Ignoring this is a recipe for cultural toxicity that can lead to an exodus of talent finding you back at square one. Further, it’s easy for company traditions to thrive within a small, tight-knit group of employees. Keeping those traditions alive might look different as you grow, but keeping them alive is vital to not losing your company identity at the hands of fervent growth.

New stages require new systems (sometimes…)

Whether your roadmap shows you growing from 10 employees to 50, or from 1,000 to 1,500, proactivity around evaluating your current systems is imperative. Ad-hoc processes and procedures are for “yesterday you.”

What serves your current staff well today likely won’t when you’re twice the size. Do you have an HRIS in place that can handle your growth? Do you make it easy for your employees to feel informed of organizational changes and connected to theiri colleagues? Are you thinking outside the box to evolve with new talent demands (compensation, benefits, flexible work options, etc…)?

As you scale, so too will the resources you’ll need to manage that growth. Identifying where your bandwidth gaps exist today will help you avoid falling into a chasm tomorrow. For example, we don’t need to tell you that managing leaves of absence is a royal headache when you have 100 employees, but without a solution that scales with you, those headaches will turn into debilitating migraines in no time. 

When does rapid growth not require new systems? When the systems you have in place can scale right along with you. Identifying solutions that can meet your growth demands should be a top priority for fast-growth orgs. There’s no better solution for tedious tasks than automating them with technology as those tasks amplify.

Plan plan plan then grow grow grow

The same way you’d plan for a new product or offering before growing it, intentionality around planning for your soon-to-be much larger company is a must. Your organization is a unique flower made up of unique individuals, so make sure your people are included in the planning process, or are at least in the loop as you expand so that your longer-tenured employees are more open to the change that comes with new growth. 

Having a seat at the table of decision-makers makes a big deal. Don’t have a CHRO? Make sure at least someone from HR gets to sit with leadership to be a voice for the people, your people. The impact growth has on your employees should be woven through every element of any growth plan.

Focus on retaining and rewarding

As an organization it can be easy to operate with a heads down, “eyes on the prize” mentality when you’re growing quickly. It’s exciting, things are going great, and the good times will never end! Right? RIGHT? 

Far too often companies fall into the trap of overlooking the practices that it took to reach their current level of success and begin to rely on momentum. With top talent at a premium, it’s vital that organizations remain laser-focused on retaining that pool of existing talent and rewarding them accordingly lest that seemingly never-ending momentum will grind to a halt.

If you want to maintain your hyper-growth you have to invest in high performance. With only half of the millennial workforce stating they’ll be at the same job in 12 months, your growth can’t sustain if you aren’t protecting your most valuable assets, your people.

The phrase work-life balance gets tossed around so frequently that it’s almost started to lose its meaning, but the truth is employees are evaluating the companies they work for more than ever before as it pertains to being treated like a human. Providing competitive compensation, benefits and making it easy to switch from work to life back to work again is a major factor, so as you scale so too should your emphasis on this critical element of employee satisfaction.

Keeping connectivity

Research from anthropologist Robin Dunbar uncovered that the upper limit of human relationships we can effectively manage is 150. While that number is an approximation, it’s been shown that this number of connections translates as much to us as individuals as it does to organizations. 

What separates an organization that can successfully grow rapidly beyond 150 employees and those that can’t comes down to solid, clear and shared beliefs. While 2,000 people might not all be able to connect deeply with each other, they can rally around a mission and move mightily as one. 

Establishing a strong culture and maintaining a strong culture are two very different things, but without everyone feeling connected to the mission and therefore each other, your hopes for maintaining that culture are slim. Clear communication around responsibilities, behavioral expectations, processes, beliefs, ways of working, and company customs will all be necessary to keep your race car driving toward pole position.

It comes down to intentionality

Whether you’re focusing on improving your employee benefits through more robust leave policies and leave of absence support, or strengthening internal bonds through innovative ways to reward and strengthen connections internally to retain talent, being focused and aligned starts from the top and must get carried throughout the organization by champions of the culture.

Implementing new systems procedures to support your fast-growing company does not mean sacrificing who your organization is at its core, it means leveraging what makes your company amazing and amplifying those elements as you grow to greater heights.

About Tilt

Tilt is leading the charge in all things leave of absence management through easy-to-use tech and human touch. Since 2017, our proprietary platform and Empathy Warriors have been helping customers make leave not suck by eliminating administrative burdens, keeping companies compliant, and providing a truly positive and supportive leave of absence experience for their people.

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