Wherever you are on your journey to market leadership, successful start-ups and companies around the world are experiencing and are having to change to adopt to managing a fast and accelerated growth, growth from a small start-up with a handful of employees into companies with hundreds of employees distributed around the globe.
With such cyclical rapid growth and change, how do companies ensure that they maintain the level of quality, innovation and business sustainability for growth?
As companies scale their teams to keep up with aggressive growth goals, a new challenge arises: companies are increasingly forced to promote technical developers, engineers and other specialist individual contributors into managerial roles in order to manage the influx of additional team members. Someone has to manage these expectations?
This presents what may be the single biggest employee management challenge facing growth companies today, as specialists with none or little management experience or training are now introduced into leadership roles – but without the skills. And usually, with no structured training or guidance provided to them, and no concern for the importance of “soft skills” or best practices to help them quickly become effective in such new manager roles.
As your business grows, investors and other stakeholders will want assurance that you understand the key risks facing your business and that you have these under control.
Here are some points you need to evaluate and assess for growth:
1. Set clear expectations
Different companies stress different types of management duties. A new manager can be responsible for setting priorities that drive toward company goals, giving feedback, helping employees stay motivated, knowing company policy, addressing performance issues, reporting results, and much more. Make it clear what they are responsible for so they can prioritise their time.
2. Train right away, and check in regularly
Make sure to establish a consistent training program right away so that it is an expected part of the role. It may seem like training takes too much time away from other important tasks, but a great training program will save time in the long run. Training courses or workshops should be offered to all new managers, and regular check-ins should happen to ensure managers are getting what they need to grow and improve. It also helps to schedule recurring one month, three month and six month check-ins. New managers do not always know what they do not know, so they need the ongoing dialogue.
3. Pair new managers with seasoned managers
Training only goes so far and the value of mentors cannot be understated. New questions arise constantly for new managers. Make sure your new manager has a dedicated mentor, who can help them navigate the ins and outs of their role. Learning from example is a tried and true practice and even if the mentor is someone from a different department, having that resource is crucial.
4. Know their limits
Great managers know their product and operations, but they aren’t a ‘know-it-all.’ Setting up new managers for success requires knowing their strengths and pain points. Educate your managers on the resources available to them. This will enable new managers to flex the muscle of their good judgment but also know when it may be time to bring someone else into the fold.
5. Culture of management
As we’ve seen in recent headlines, corporate culture can make or break a company. Emphasising the corporate culture as a guidepost for management style will keep problems at bay. Managers should embody a consistent set of values that extend right up the chain of command.
Companies need to put both the processes and technology in place to make it possible for people to become great managers. Startups move incredibly quickly and managers need to do their own work on top of managing others. If building good management skills is not a priority, and tools for building skills are not accessible, people will not necessarily commit. Investing in new manager training is even more important in fast-moving growth companies. Management training may seem like a nice to have, but strong management is one of the essential ingredients for scaling quickly and staying competitive.
Finally, your long-term vision and mission is actually a series of medium-term objectives. When your company grows too fast, it is easy to skip these medium-term objectives because you are seemingly forced to change goals.
Many fast-growth business leaders change their goal too often, never quite completing a plan before starting the next one. So it is important to set a medium-term goal and deliver it.