Define roles and responsibilities
“A common mistake that growing companies make is not taking enough time to plan their HR needs,” Karamanos says. “A good place to start is to define roles and responsibilities. That will bring clarity to what needs to be accomplished and what knowledge, experience and skills are required.”
Vince Molinaro agrees. “Growth can be heavily impacted by the talent you have,” says Molinaro, a leadership expert at Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge, a firm that specializes in helping organizations manage their human resources.
“The good news is small businesses often attract top employees because they can often offer challenging responsibilities, good learning opportunities and personal growth,” Karamanos says.
Create an HR plan
Molinaro advises businesses to create an HR plan that integrates how they will recruit, develop and retain employees as the company grows.
- Recruiting—Social media has revolutionized recruitment, particularly business-oriented sites such as LinkedIn. It's important to tap your social networks to get the word out about job openings, including through LinkedIn's discussion groups. But don't forget traditional methods, including tried-and-true word of mouth.
- Avoid hiring mistakes—Take the time to do a thorough job of screening candidates. Do several interviews with a prospect, and arrange to see them in action. For example, you can ask them to complete an assignment or make a presentation of the kind they would be doing in the position. Check references. And remember: A good fit with your company's culture is crucial.
- Employee training—Development needs may be minimal if your business is small, but some training may still be worthwhile to keep employees interested and progressing. Plan to increase formal training as you grow. As well, support new hires via a buddy program and regular one-on-one sit-downs with a manager. When someone takes on a new role, assign them a buddy who did the task before.
- Retention—A positive, inspiring work climate is vital. Money is important, of course, but so is sincere appreciation, clear expectations and an inspiring company vision. “People really want to be part of a powerful story and a winning company,” Molinaro says.
Outline your human resource needs
If you're planning to expand your company, take some time to outline the human resources capabilities you will require. The exercise will help you avoid major HR headaches that could derail your growth, says BDC's Mary Karamanos. Be sure to cover the following areas.
- Job descriptions—Outline the roles and responsibilities of each position. In smaller companies, these can be broad because employees often wear many hats. But as you grow, job descriptions should become more specific to avoid duplication of efforts.
- Organizational chart—Draw a chart of your organizational structure, showing who answers to whom. Make sure the CEO isn't overwhelmed with too many people directly reporting to him or her.
- A hiring schedule—Determine a schedule for when you'll need to make new hires as you hit various growth milestones and what kind of expertise you'll need.