5 traits managers need during rapid business growth – Part 1

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Rapid, exponential business growth.

It’s what all business leaders and shareholders ultimately desire.

Whether it’s business growth through acquisition, growth through increased revenue, or growth through restructuring. Either way, the numbers need to be moving in the right direction.

Yet, it’s not always as simple as that.

Because, with growth comes uncertainty, ambiguity, and transition… And these elements within the process of business growth, aside from being a natural by-product of change, can also be a major hurdle when they are not dealt with appropriately by your managers.

After all, the business is only as effective as the people within it, and alongside any process of business growth there must be a clear strategy for managing the transition, and helping your staff to remain empowered through the transition and to actually grow with the organisation.

And a lot of that is down to the quality of management in your business.

What are the challenges of rapid business growth?

If your organisation has experienced a period of rapid business growth in the past, you’ll be fully aware of the challenges that this brings up, on the shop floor.

It’s all well and good ensuring that you continuously grow your market share and increase your sales revenue, and it’s vital that you and your shareholders consistently seek opportunities to add value to the bottom line of your business.

But what about the people who are facilitating this growth?

Your employees…your managers?

Do they have the ability to work through the transition and grow with you?

You see, often times, an organisation may seem to be growing quickly and building a solid foundation for the future, yet there can be problems under the surface which often inhibit business growth, without us being fully aware of it.

In some cases, you may have a management team who simply isn’t dealing well with the transition and is battling to help their staff deal with it as well.

In other cases, you may have hired managers before the transition/growth process had really begun, who succeeded in other companies, with a different culture and environment, but who don’t have what it takes to be able to navigate their teams through this new and uncertain period.

Furthermore, you may even have long standing, loyal managers in your company that actually resent the rapid changes they are being forced to implement, based on their yearning to “keep things as they are.”

This is usually caused by the fear of losing control or fear of change and the ‘unknown.’

Whatever the reasons, you can be sure that when you don’t have the right managers in place, who can facilitate the transition and communicate the importance and value of change to their employees, the effects are soon felt by everybody.

Why do these problems arise?

There’s a whole host of reasons why your management team may not be fully aligned to the growth path that your business is on.

It may be, whilst recruiting your managers, you took a short term approach to selection, and hired managers for the ‘now’ rather than for the ‘future’, i.e. you analyse the demands and the requirements of your management team based on a current (and temporary) situation, rather than considering how these demands and requirements will change as the company grows.

On the flipside, it may be that your managers themselves were under pressure to hire people and put ‘bums on seats’ to fulfil growing customer demand and therefore also took a short-term approach to hiring their staff.

Of course, filling gaps is only a temporary solution; ‘panic hiring’ generally leads to poor recruitment decisions, which generally leads to poor team performance.

What this really comes down to is a lack of strategic planning for the business and for the workforce. When managers lack a clear insight into who they will need, not just now, but also in the future, it is inevitable that mistakes will be made.

Ultimately, your managers are the people who have to facilitate change and growth amongst your staff, which means that it’s essential to have the right kind of managers, with the right drives and the right competencies, to be able to translate and communicate the business plan in the most effective and conducive way.

If you decide not to focus on getting the right managers in the right places, there’s a huge chance your business will be unable to handle the constant challenges along the path of business growth, and you will lose momentum as a direct result.

Uncertainty and ambiguity naturally create tension, fear and often hostility amongst your employees. Without the right management team in place you’re running the risk of losing good people and costing your organisation time, money and reputation in the process.

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What are the 5 essential characteristics?

So what does a manager need in order to be able to facilitate growth within your organisation, and mobilise your staff to get on board with the changes?

Well, the first step for you is to think about how your business will change as you grow and what kind of demands will be placed on managers in the future.

By having a clear idea of these changing requirements, it’s far easier for you to understand who you need in your management teams and how to go about finding or developing those people.

From our experience with working alongside hundreds of organisations across the UK, we’ve been able to understand that there are certain characteristics in managers who are most successful at managing change and facilitating transition within a business:

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1) Change orientated

If your business is growing quickly and you are experiencing a significant transition, then it’s vital that you get managers in place who cannot only handle change, but who actually thrive on it.

Having a fast pace of work, being able to make quick decisions and having a healthy relationship to risk, is all part of a strong change orientation.

These kinds of people are highly motivated by changing working environments and can embrace those changes very easily because of their natural drive to experience constant variety.

When you hire managers who have a strong change orientation, you’ll see that their ability to handle ambiguity and uncertainty often comes naturally. This means that they are able to set a precedence within their teams by showing them that there is nothing to fear from change.

2) Resilience

With rapid business growth comes uncertainty and with uncertainty come unforeseen problems. In many cases, employees want some kind of guarantee from their manager that the growth will be beneficial to them and will not endanger their current situation.

Unfortunately, this guarantee is not always possible, and it takes a real resilience to be able to not only cope effectively with the ambiguity, but also to be able to confidently communicate with staff in a way that empowers them and instils them with assurance.

Although the growth of your business will evidently have a beneficial outcome for the organisation as a whole, your managers must have the resilience to be able to power through changes that come with business growth, and show their teams that they are able to steer the ship through the rough waters and the calm waters, always with an eye on the destination.

For the rest of the article (and the next 3 traits) check out 5 traits managers need during rapid business growth – Part 2!

In the meantime, why not share your experiences of business growth with us in the comments box below? We’d love to hear your views.

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