Based on your responses, you have done well to prepare your business for the consequences of growth that lie ahead. You and your leadership team have anticipated many of the operational risks that accompany rapid growth, and you’ve begun making changes to maintain the company’s current operational effectiveness.

The future is bright, but remember: many businesses that outgrow their capability do so unintentionally. They are unaware of their growth problem until specific issues begin to surface. While the processes and procedures you have followed have suited you thus far, there is no guarantee that they will continue to do so as you grow by three, five, or tenfold.

The best way to assure you are building a high-performing company that will thrive is to Go Slow. Invest in effectiveness—spend time and money to improve systems and people. Sacrifice short-term ROI to create a framework for sustained success. Make time to step back and review long-term goals, instead of simply reacting to the business problem du jour.

To help do this, consider these three steps from Tilson CEO Brent R. Tilson’s book Go Slow to Grow Fast. These tips will help your business’s capability evolve and keep pace with its future growth.

Next Steps

  1. Maximize the ROI of your existing employees

Businesses across the country spend substantial resources and decision making on property, plant, and equipment to increase efficiency, but don’t put the same effort toward planning to increase the efficiency of the largest investment—people. It’s baffling, but it’s also easy to see why this is true.

Unlike an investment in software or machinery that can improve performance when installed, improving the ROI of employees requires a comprehensive human resource management strategy that will take time to implement and deliver results. It is difficult, but it is what high-performing businesses all do.

Have you identified out-of-date or inadequate employee policies? Do you have a training program that quickly brings new employees to full performance? Does your management team have the information and tools it needs to manage performance? Increasing the effectiveness of each of your employees will ultimately allow your business to do more with less.

  1. Evolve your HR department

As companies grow, their HR systems need to scale, as well, to meet the business’s evolving needs. Sounds simple, but HR is often the most neglected department within growing organizations.

There are three major areas of HR: administrative HR—the treadmill of tasks every company has to do every day, including processing payroll and benefits administration; operational HR—the management of the employee life cycle, from recruiting to termination and everything in between; and strategic HR—the decision making on key issues such as compensation design, benefits programs, and incentives programs.

The highest value duties of HR are operational and strategic, but most growing companies spend the lion’s share of their HR time and resources on administration activities that provide the lowest bottom line value. Some businesses are able to improve their HR infrastructure from within; others find it necessary to hire a dedicated, outside HR professional. Whatever the solution may be, it is crucial to ensure that as your business grows, your HR department follows.

  1. Establish a performance management system

People are a business’s greatest investment. Having an effective performance management system for your people is the ultimate key to building a high-performance company.

The challenge for small to medium-size businesses is that the demands on the performance management system grow exponentially as the business grows. This is especially true in high-growth companies as their growth quickly outpaces the capability of the system, if there is one in place at all.

The important elements of a performance management system include the five basic talent life cycle components: Finding the best talent, developing top talent, directing performance, motivating excellence, and retaining top talent.

Companies often don’t know where to begin to implement a comprehensive performance management system. My recommendation is to identify the one area of the five stages of the employee life cycle that presents the quickest opportunity to have an immediate impact on your business and focus on it first. Then pick the next area, and so on.

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In Go Slow To Grow Fast, Tilson CEO Brent R. Tilson presents tools for leaders to zero in on the critical numbers and measurements they need to monitor.

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