How talent strategy changes as a business grows
As a business evolves through different stages so does it’s talent strategy.
Startups are usually the work of the founder combined with the efforts of a small band of workers. The founder is initially quite involved in all aspects of running the business and keeps a close eye on all his employees. But as the business grows so does the number of employees and it is no longer possible for the CEO to keep a tab on each and every employee.
In the beginning, the manager and founder keep the number of employees as low as possible and will even take on many tasks themselves to avoid further hiring. J.T. Allen is an entrepreneur who founded myFootpath – a firm dedicated to helping people figure out what’s next in life in their education, career or other directions. Speaking of the early days of his venture, he said in a recent interview, “It used to be that I was involved in every single thing. Take the financials of the company. There was a time where I was the auditor. Meaning, I would go line by line on expenses. I mean you do it because you have to. Money is tight, and you’re starting off, you know.”
The budget is tight in the startup phase of a business, and so management focuses on keeping expenses down to a minimum until they reach their breakeven point. They may employ temporary workers like freelancers or interns to get cheaper work without providing additional benefits. Outsourcing work not only saves cash but also allows businesses to be agile and flexible. As a startup, it is paramount that the business retains its flexibility as the business grows.
Once the company starts to grow, from a talent strategy perspective, the management looks for people who can manage pieces of the business independently as it grows. The company hires executives to manage functions of an entire department. Executives are hired to oversee the workspace by function or by projects, or perhaps even a hybrid of the two. They put in internal controls to run the company and supervise tasks that the top management can no longer make time for.
There is a world of software and applications which can be used to monitor several hundreds of employees at the same time. You can even hire programmers to design a program customized according to your company’s needs and requirements. For example, in a large customer support center it is impossible to listen in on every phone call between your employees and the customers. But using a software, you can record the conversations and be alerted if there is trouble. You can have certain keywords set as triggers to alert the supervising manager to step in and oversee the situation, and also have review meetings where randomly picked calls are listened to and discussed by a department.
The profile in the talent search changes as the business and management evolves. In different phases of the business growth, different kinds of people are required to manage effectively. You need to hire people who have traits that match the business stage.
“Some people are very good with ambiguity, and they like the amorphous nature of a startup. Some people need structure and focus, and we’re probably looking for more the structure and focus because we know what we need to do,” said J.T. Allen. “Over time, your priorities change as your business picture becomes clear.”
Look for people who can help grow the business. If you are a growing company, you want employees who can handle change and be drivers of it rather than those who prefer a more stable environment.
A good talent strategy is one which is closely aligned with the company’s core strategy. For optimal performance, it is imperative that the talent you hire is in accordance with the overall strategic direction of the organization. Many companies do not put much thought into whether or not their talent strategy coincides. Less than one in ten executives from mid-sized private companies say that their talent strategies are in sync with the overall strategic planning, according to a survey conducted for The Talent Imperative.
It takes a lot of time and resources to develop your employees. Losing an employee can be damaging for a company; you lose your investment and have to spend more resources on recruiting and training a replacement. Keep your employees satisfied and engaged by having them work with their talent. They will be motivated to work and will grow more quickly, boosting overall performance.