Looking toward growth in your business?
As the economy continues to pick up, there’s a new sense of optimism and survey after survey tells us that business confidence is on the rise.
It looks like small and mid-sized businesses will be driving much of the predicted growth in recruitment over the next few months. Research released by the CIPD says SMEs are nearly five times more likely to employ new people in the next quarter than larger businesses.
But as a recent article in the McKinsey journal Insights warns, whatever the size of your business, sustaining growth is really hard – particularly if expansion has been rapid. In its survey of high growth companies, 85 percent turned out to be unable to maintain their growth rates.
The CIPD’s research suggests having a clear purpose and values plays a critical role in the continued success of a business. They guide how work gets done, influence the way people feel about their jobs and make it more likely the organization will achieve its objectives.
There’s a danger, however, that as companies expand and grow, these values can become diluted and may even disappear altogether over time. So, how can companies communicate their values clearly and make sure they stay solid through growth?
Look for subtle signs
Be alert to small, but significant, signals that employees are becoming less engaged with the business as it grows. People might be loosing enthusiasm. In this scenario, keeping the lines of communication open is key. Talking to people face-to-face is important, but internal social portals-which allow people to share information and discuss ideas-can also play an important role. Used well, social media engagement can help to maintain the ‘community’ atmosphere employers want to stimulate, keep people up-to-speed with what’s happening in the business and create a sense of excitement about the challenges ahead.
Articulate values clearly
How often have you walked into an organization and seen the corporate values displayed proudly on the wall in reception? Inspiring statements like, ‘we put customers first’ or ‘our people are our greatest asset’. The trouble is this does not clearly tell employees what they should be doing differently. Organizations need to find ways to clearly express their values and what they actually mean in practice of attitudes and behaviors. Employee focus groups, where people talk about ‘how we do things around here’ can help to reinforce the behaviors the business want to encourage. Sharing examples on the intranet or in an internal publication about how people have delighted customers or taken an ethical approach to a difficult situation can also be an effective way of keeping the message alive.
Tell your story
Growing your business can be difficult. People are often reminiscent of the ‘early days’ of a business when there was a ‘family’ atmosphere. When everyone knew what was going on and the chief executive had time to catch up in passing. This inevitably disappears as a business grows, but helping employees understand the ‘back story’ of your business as well as their role in building its future can help to increase their engagement and sense of ownership. You might consider including information about the company’s journey in induction programs for new starters, for example, so they understand where you are coming from and what has gone before. With story-telling as an integral part of communication you can also help people make sense of change and understand the reasons you might want them to do things differently to the way they have in the past.
Don’t let formalities stifle your culture
As a business grows, official processes and procedures tend to multiply and get more complex. Tedious forms and lengthy sign-off procedures can get in the way of efficiency and make people feel disempowered. HR processes such as authorizing time off are a prime example of how companies can make processes far more complicated than they need to be.
Cloud-based HR technology like Cezanne HR can do so much to simplify and streamline processes. It can help to build trust and engagement and free time up for people to concentrate on their other responsibilities. The latest generation software, for example, allows people to check how much time off they’ve acquired and submit a request online. Their manager can access an up-to-date calendar of who’s off when and can approve the request at the click of a mouse.
Embed company values in your people processes:
The CIPD suggests keeping company values at the core of all your people processes. So when hiring new staff, think beyond technical capabilities and look for people whose personal values and ways of working match those of the organization. If maximizing the potential of your people is one of your values, make sure this is reflected in performance management processes. There’s no point in emphasizing the desire to invest in employee development if performance reviews and training are constantly getting put off. It’s about acting on promises-if people see that HR and senior management are living out the values of the company, they will follow.
What strategies do you have in place to sustain growth in your business?