Sweden HR group has the privilege of working with many rapidly growing companies with a focus on operational and strategic HR issues, which are often referred to as People & Culture. We’re often called in when the company has reached thirty or more employees, with growth and recruitment happening at a ferocious pace.
We also help companies (often scale-ups) to become more attractive to investors with a focus on ensuring sustainability by helping companies achieve the ESG criteria (environmental, social, and governance). In short, sustainable investments are about assessing how the company performs with regard to environmental friendliness, social sustainability, and corporate governance. It’s in this respect that professional HR is required to minimise any negative effects within one’s own business, as well as strengthen the positive ones. Over the years, we’ve observed a pattern in a variety of missteps made precisely during the stage of rapid growth, which can easily be avoided.
We’ve listed some of these below and described how you can avoid them to become even more successful through a greater awareness and focus on the importance of professional HR support.
1. Structure kills creativity
A fairly common misconception among high-growth companies is that “structure kills creativity” – we believe that structure is a prerequisite for creativity and lays the foundation for a sustainable culture with good performance. As you grow, you need to keep a check on your operating model, your company’s roles and positions, as well as areas of responsibility. An overly flat organisation will ultimately lead to ambiguity, and ambiguity often leads to unhealthy relationships within the team. A prerequisite for maximum performance is that your employees know what is expected of them and that they receive feedback on their effort and performance. This gives them the confidence to be creative. You need to keep a constant check on what skills you have today, what is missing and what is needed tomorrow. The skills you had in your company when you started are not necessarily the same skills you need to scale up. Dare to kill-your-darlings!
2. Putting friends & family before skills
Hiring family and friends is a common recruitment strategy in high-growth companies. Sound familiar? Of course it does, it’s often a formula for success right from the start. It’s a strategy that’s experienced as safe and secure when you choose a person you trust and who matches the company profile. However, to create even better conditions for a faster and more efficient scale-up, you need a sustainable recruitment strategy. It’s usually enough that you complement the process with some form of a job specification and role description and explore the person’s formal competence and experience which is central to the phase the company is in and wants to achieve.
Too often, we see fast-growing companies where roles and areas of responsibility are sub-optimised based on the person rather than competence, and where the initial employees aren’t always the right players to move up and evolve into the company’s new skills and experience requirements. This brings the risk of getting a patchwork quilt of different roles and areas of responsibility.
3. We don’t have time for an induction period
In periods of rapid growth, the induction of new employees is often forgotten, which is crucial to getting them on board and delivering quickly. New employees have an especially great need to understand what’s expected of them, what they have to deliver and how to perform, as well as who they can turn to if questions and/or problems arise. Employees who quickly understand theirroles, responsibilities, and goals, deliver and perform faster and better. That’s why you shouldn’t leave anything to chance, but put together a structured introduction process, digital and/or in person. Prepare work equipment, create a set-up for the person in all existing systems, send them company information before they start, and define who they will meet and why. Then follow up regularly.
4. Employer branding for the win – – but what happens next?
If you’re experiencing rapid growth, you need to have a keen focus on talent acquisition and employer branding. It’s absolutely crucial for you to attract the right people, and we’ve been seeing a considerable positive development in this regard in recent years. Many companies have understood the business benefits of a strong outward-looking employer brand. However, all too often the operational HR base platform is forgotten. It’s equally strategically important for sustainable growth.
Among other things, an HR baseplatform contains correct employment agreements, fair salaries, and other terms of employment, as well as compliance with work environment and labour code provisions. Although this may sound rigid, it is the very foundation of a strong employer brand. One doesn’t exclude the other, but a focus on both strategic and operational HR work is what creates the strength and sustainable growth. The operational HR work is the day-to-day work (agreements, etc.) and the strategic is the development and forward-looking work (cultural issues, organisational model, etc.).
5. We are a scale-up – that’s our culture
A common mistake is to believe that the corporate culture comes to life from the outset and that it happens by itself. Let’s rewind a bit first – what’s a culture? Well, among other things, a culture is what your employees say about you when you aren’t listening. A culture describes how employees behave, what they say, what they don’t say, how they dress, and how they relate to each other. At the beginning of a growth journey, the culture often takes care of itself, but as you grow in number and/or the need for change arises in the company, the culture becomes something you must actively work with from a strategic perspective. There are often several different cultures in the company such as “Those who’ve been here for a long time” or “Those who work in department X”. These different or undefined cultures can create inefficient processes and high costs in the form of high staff turnover or internal wear-and-tear, for instance. Don’t wait too long to decide and clearly define what culture and behaviour you want and need to have to achieve your goals. Make sure that this becomes an integral and dynamic element of your day-to-day life – among other things, by setting out the most important HR processes.
Structure is a prerequisite for creativity – As you grow, you need to keep a check on your operating model, your company’s roles and positions, as well as areas of responsibility
To create even better conditions for a faster and more efficient scale-up, you need a sustainable recruitment strategy.
Employees who quickly understand their roles, responsibilities, and goals, deliver and perform faster and better. Put together a structured induction process.
The foundation of a strong employer brand starts from within. Continue to focus on a strong outward-looking employer brand and work in parallel with the operational HR base platform. This is equally strategically important for sustainable growth.
Decide on and clearly define what culture and behaviour you want, and need in order to achieve your goals and minimise the risk of inefficient processes and high costs in the form of high staff turnover or internal wear-and-tear.
Do you want to outsource your HR function, need additional skills and/or resources for your existing HR team or need support in a strategic project? Welcome to us, we always customize a solution according to your needs.
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