How to look after your team in periods of rapid growth……..

Over the last year I have continued to work with businesses who have faces significant growth. When growth is rapid or continues for a long period, leaders must be on the lookout for people who are overwhelmed.

It’s often the case that the problem is not the growth itself, but that the business is too short-staffed to handle it. Or there hasn’t been a chance yet to build out enough infrastructure, or leadership is actually afraid to recruit more people because they expect the growth to eventually slow and they don’t want to have to make anyone redundant. Here are five ways to think about the situation.

Spread the pressure evenly

It’s common to maintain some slack in your operation. Not everyone is working to capacity all the time. If you experience enough unplanned growth to absorb that entire cushion, everyone will feel quite busy. But if you’ve got good people, they can probably handle double that amount of unplanned growth if the necessary business growth only takes a few months.

The thing to watch out for, as you build the team or expand capacity, is whether the extra work is being shared optimally among team members so that everyone has a proportional share of the burden? Be sure your best people aren’t taking on an extra 40% so that your average employee can toodle along long comfortably just as they were.

Eliminate barriers to recruitment

Check for bottlenecks in your recruitment, selection, and onboarding processes. Is there a holdup anywhere in the talent management stream that is affecting your ability to bring in good people? Make sure everyone understands the leeway they have to make decisions about pay or candidates’ prior experience to make it easier to bring in enough people who have the right capabilities even if they haven’t done the same exact work before.

And don’t be tight about compensation. If you’re not willing to pay the market rate, you’re likely to incur hidden costs by overloading your incumbent staff and maybe losing a couple of them.

Distribute authority

Enable people to take on more responsibility as well as more work. The more you can share authority across the business and allow even junior people to learn to make accurate judgments and do problem-solving, the more efficient your entire business will be. Otherwise, where people can’t make decisions themselves, they’ll wait for leaders to do it for them, rather than resolving the problems themselves and continuing on with the work they need to do.

Give extra care to avoid burnout

Take care of your people to prevent their suffering from burnout. Be aware of which employees can be more productive working from home vs. in the office or else working during off-hours. As long as they’re not disrupting anyone else, encourage them to work where and when they are most comfortable. Most people give their best when they feel you understand them and want them to do well.

Also ensure that everyone has the tools or resources they need to carry the extra load. Create breaks so people can catch their breath and look for ways to nourish them whenever possible, whether through access to nature or resources such as mindfulness or meditation apps and fitness classes.

Look after yourself

Recognise your own needs and limits. Be willing to ask for help both inside and outside your team and even beyond your business. If you start to fade, you need to have people you can hand things off to, at least temporarily. When you’re responsible for others, it’s important to keep yourself healthy and focused enough that you can sustain that responsibility, and to know when you need to step back or away, even for short, restorative periods of time.

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