Series: Six Fundamentals of Fast Growth (1)

HR Team smiling

Author: Dean Hunter

Published: 2nd August 2016

So, you have invested in hiring the right people, you have a plan (in mind at least) and have the customers; however you just don’t seem to be able to achieve the growth you expected. Day to day issues bog you down and you can’t seem to get the bigger picture, the strategic projects that you know will make a difference.

Over a series of six blogs, I will share the learning we have collated working alongside over 300 clients in over 30 sectors. These learnings will be relevant whether you are a high flying PLC, or a charity looking to reduce costs and budgets.

Some of the tools and suggestions aren’t ‘sexy’. They are, however, fundamental and if not implemented effectively can often create walls in a business.

Let’s start with values!

So I promised no tree hugging and often the term ‘values’ turns people off immediately. Managers often cannot link values to profitability and do not see how they translate to commercial impact.

Just to be clear – we are talking about the values that are embedded into the business i.e. the way you work not those which are just ‘assumed’ by the boss.

One of the most important factors in getting staff to follow your vision and deliver for your business is to know what the management stand for. Believe me, if you don’t make this clear they will typically assume it’s all about profit or self-progression on the part of the manager. This is even more relevant in family run businesses or in SMEs where the staff can see directly where the profits are going.

It’s hard to understand the link between values and profitability if you haven’t seen them in action. I have been fortunate enough to be part of a fast growth business where we tripled the value of the company in 5 years and the key reason for the purchase (from the buyer) was the culture and values of the business. As the buyer realised that the engaged staff made clients happy, in turn they won more contracts and started to win greater market share.

Leadership teams cannot deliver the growth on their own, they need the whole team on board – many miss this point.

If staff can see (via embedded values) that management care about their development, want them to progress and reward them in financial and non financial ways they are more likely to be ‘engaged’. Engaged staff will continue to drive the growth of the business even when their manager is not around. Sadly, as a nation, we have only managed to engage on average 36% of the UK workforce. (CIPD 2015).

Engaged staff are productive and productivity drives the bottom line profit. This is what fuels growth and makes values a key fundamental to fast growth.

So when you feel the need to just keep adding staff – you must question whether the one’s you have on-board are productive and engaged.

It is key to mention that embedding values solely to drive profits does not work. Managers attempting this approach will not be able to keep up the façade that they really believe in a live the values. They will just become words on a poster.

An estimated 90% or more of companies who have values in place, have not embedded them. Very few companies have involved staff in agreeing the values and even fewer can explain what they mean. Be aware of the companies who post them on every wall in the office. Making them visible is important but it doesn’t help to make them live and breath.

Creating values is easy, embedding them not so much. If you have even one leaser on your board or leadership team who does not buy in, staff will recognise this and at some point will tear up the values and file them accordingly. So it’s all or nothing.

Think about values like a diet. When bad habits slip in, all of the hard work is wasted.

Throughout this series we will question the right organisational design, how roles and responsibilities make a significant difference to growth, how the leadership team themselves need to be engaged and not just incentivised and how few businesses actually have a strategy for growth.

Think of values like a foundation of the home. Growth may become particularly challenging without this key fundamental in place.

If you would like more information please drop us a line at [email protected]

Dean Hunter is Founder of Hunter Adams, a UK leading HR Consultancy which grew 2000% in its first three years of trade and was recognised as ‘Best New Company’ in 2015 (Scottish Business Awards)

Related Content: How To Grow Your Company