Organic growth can slowly prepare companies to take advantage of market opportunities in a measured and sustained manner. But what do you do when you need to prepare for rapid scale up that will attract new investors and opportunities.

Aligning people to strategy is key to significantly changing the mindset of companies preparing for short-term accelerated growth. You can get the right product mix, revenue generation and suppliers but the perfect storm can be waiting for you if you haven’t fully considered the impact on organisational culture and people resources.

Imagine the scene. Company profits continue to grow. The board has accepted exciting expansion plans based on careful business planning. An injection of investment is ready to help with Capex. So it’s all about project management and branding right? Wrong! Did you forget the teething problems when you went from an intimate 20-person company to a busy 80+ person company across two sites? The pain is over, right?

Don’t expect to replicate recruitment, training and communication and get the same results. The essence of the company will be set to change. Multi-site, cross-functional teams bring new challenges.

The culture has to align closely to the accelerated growth plans.

This is exactly the challenge some of my clients have faced. Every business is different, but some positive examples have arisen from first providing a sense check on the organisational culture through a review of attitudes, behaviours, reporting mechanisms and communication styles. AND how this is integrated into KPIs and objective setting. Some quick win actions can enable a smooth transition of change and embedding new structures that will allow expansion plans to positively launch.

One client, recently in a C-suite role, quickly identified through a Top Team Culture session that his role would only be successful if others were completely honest with him and he could trust them 100%. Another client through a full diagnostic and structural review recognised that pockets of unhealthy behaviours were beginning to cluster and this would potentially create strain when operations became busier.

Often cultural change is only considered when strategy shifts significantly. A city-based client, faced with changing consumer trends made the brave decision to close off one area of the business so they could invest and focus on the growing digital side. But that meant restructuring and reviewing the skillset to ensure they could maximise how they approached the new strategy. Overall headcount remained the same but new roles were required.

Some of the typical areas that help prepare for scale up include:

  • How do we communicate plans without excessive meetings and emails?
  • How can we engage staff and encourage cross-sharing to ensure silos aren’t part of the routine?
  • What do our managers need to do differently to work faster, be more lean and agile?
  • What metrics do we need to ensure overheads don’t dominate operations?
  • How do our team feel about the changes? Is this the company they aspired to belong to?

In simple terms, analysing people is much harder than equipment, supply chain and routes to market. It’s not uncommon for growing companies to leave the people to last, but successsful growth strategies see the company DNA being fully understood first with small actions having big impacts. Weaving the findings and actions into business objectives that will be challenging is vital for lift off.

It’s not about a people plan its about an alignment to business needs and more importantly business ambitions.

If you have scale up plans and want to consider how best to gel your skillset together, find out how the team at Merlin Consultancy can help.