Building the right team for growth

Growth requires specific team skills and widespread engagement throughout your organisation. It pays to ask tough and searching questions when you’re planning for the next stage of your business’s growth. Get the inside track from Mike Linter, Partner at KPMG.

KPMG Enterprise’s Moments That Make You report can guide you through critical growth decisions, including your people and skills strategy.

Mike Linter, Partner, KPMG

When you’re growing a business, it’s essential to ensure that your culture and processes are right for an expanding enterprise. And there’s no area where this is more the case than with your people and skills base.

Regardless of how instrumental your current staff have been in taking your business to where it is today, there’s no guarantee that the same set-up or skill-set will support your future growth. As the business expands, the game changes, along with the skills you need to ensure your growth is sustained.

The key is knowing where and how you need to develop existing staff and where you need to bring new skills in to achieve your strategic ambition. It’s a twin track process.

Click Travel's CEO, Jill Palmer, on the right team for growth.

Getting the right team in place

Sometimes it can just be a matter of stepping back to assess whether your existing staff are equipped to deliver on your plans. It may be that many or even all of the skills and attitudes required for further growth already exist within the business. If that is the case, it’s a priority to ensure the right people are in the right roles, with the most effective team structures, and with the correct motivation.

However, sometimes it may be clear that recruitment is needed, and this can often be the moment when growth businesses take the decision to step things up.

For example, if you wish to enter overseas markets for the first time, or make your first big acquisition, you may choose to invest that bit extra in hiring experienced employees from larger corporates. These hires not only bring a new set of skills to the business, they also have an understanding of how larger organisations function, and the working processes needed as the business scales.

One word of caution, though: there’s an important cultural bridging job to be done when recruiting in this way. While recruitments of this kind will bring onboard an instinctive understanding of corporate-level processes when you’re transitioning the business to another level of scale and ambition, it’s also vital that your new recruits are the right cultural fit, and have the flexibility they’ll need to thrive in a smaller, perhaps more agile and less risk averse environment.

"There’s no guarantee that the same set-up will support your future growth."

Mike Linter, Partner, KPMG

Develop a competency framework

Before you bring new people onboard or re-structure your existing teams, make sure you know the skills you need by implementing a competency framework. This involves identifying key competencies required for a position or area of the business, at each level of seniority.

For example, a competency framework for the finance function, one for the sales team, one for the marketing team, and so on. You’ll be able to build a formal understanding as to which parts of your workforce are most crucial to what differentiates your business, and allow you to structure your teams as effectively as possible, while also helping to develop a healthy culture of continuous learning.

Click Travel case study

Jill Palmer, CEO of Click Travel, explains how the business achieved growth by shifting the emphasis away from individual financial incentives and onto effective teamwork.

Read more

''Get motivation right, and staff will be that bit more inclined to give 110%.''

Mike Linter, Partner, KPMG

Nurturing the motivation

No less important is the ‘X’ factor of employee engagement and motivation. Get motivation right, and staff will be that bit more inclined to give 110% in making growth a reality.

This works on several levels. Firstly, a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that explains your vision, the strategic pathway to getting to that place, and how employees’ day-to-day-work contributes to that strategy, can motivate employees to go that extra mile. It’s highly likely that this EVP already exists as an informal sentiment, but by refining it, adding detail and making it concrete, you can facilitate the widespread buy-in you’ll need for a larger organisation with a bigger headcount.  

You will want to consider the ever-growing range of day-to-day benefits that you can offer employees, such as healthcare or on-site childcare. Take the time to understand what will appeal to them most, offer a tailored package, and ensure employees understand the value of the benefits offered.

Secondly, there’s senior-level motivation to consider: particularly relevant in incentivising managers to grow the business to agreed targets. Enterprise Management Incentive schemes have proven to be very popular, offering share options to key individuals, often conditional on them staying with the business for a certain period of time – sometimes until the business is sold.

Remember regulation

Finally, don’t forget that growing your business successfully will also bring into view a number of new or heightened challenges with regard to regulation, particularly as you surpass certain thresholds. For instance, managing pension obligations in a compliant way is critical, and if your annual wage bill pushes past £3m, 0.5% of payroll must go to the Apprenticeship Levy.

Key takeaways

  • Take a step back to assess whether existing staff are equipped to deliver on your plans for growth. Can you do it with the ‘build’ approach alone?
  • …or do you need to buy in the skills and attitudes you need, looking for new recruits from a more corporate background? If you do, make sure the cultural and competency fit is right for your business
  • Refine, flesh out and formalise your Employee Value Proposition to facilitate widespread buy-in and engagement across the workforce
  • Incentivise your senior team with measures such as an Enterprise Management Incentive scheme
  • Use a competency framework to help you structure your teams effectively, to make sure the right people are in the right roles, and as an essential building block of a healthy culture of continuous learning and development
  • Scan ahead for people-related regulatory burdens as you grow, including pension obligations and the Apprenticeship Levy.

For more on people and skills, and many other aspects of growing a private business, download our Moments That Make You guide.

Download the guide for CEO stories and expert advice to help you achieve your business growth ambition.

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