Keep the bus going: putting the right people in the right position

Scaling up your business also means putting the right people in the right positions at the right time. It takes a strong team with different talents to translate vision into action and make the business expansion a success. Management succession is a top concern for scale-up executives, as they know that placing the right people in key positions can be crucial for a company.

People often compare the placement challenge with driving a bus. Think about it like this: The CEO of the company is the bus driver and the company is your bus. If you want to keep it going, you will have to decide where you’re going, how you’re getting there and who you will take with you.

Leaders who are bringing their company to the next level will start with ‘who’ instead of ‘where’. You will first need to take the right people on the bus, drop off the wrong people in the next stop and then fill the seats with the right persons. When you are facing a problem or opportunity, think first of ‘who can be the right person to take responsibility for this’ instead of ‘what should we do’.

Here are some lessons learned from entrepreneurs on placing the right people in the right positions:

1.     When scaling up, rethink your original team
The skills you need to start the business are not the skills you need to scale a business. Simply put, when your company is growing, it is important to review your current team and see whether they possess the right skills to grow the business. This does not necessarily mean you will fire them, but it means you need to rethink their skills and place them in other positions where they can be great.

2.     Hire people who are better than you
Get people on board who take full ownership of their roles and are focused on the company’s success. Choose talent that is complementing your skills or the skills of the team they will be working with.
Patrick Drake, co-founder of service HelloFresh says: “You’ve got to have the confidence to hire people who are as good, or better, than you. Some will hire below them to avoid being shown up or usurped – but doing that will be the death of your company.”

3.     Highlight your company culture when getting new hires
Finding employees who embody the company’s values is crucial in cultivating the company culture. Many still think that previous work experience and capabilities are all that matter when you’re hiring new employees, but culture fit is a very important factor. Employees who do not fit with the company culture, tend to exert less effort and can even demotivate the entire project team.
When the organizational fit is strong, you will have employees who motivate their co-workers, people who are more likely to stick around and some great brand ambassadors.
Your customers will also notice this and remember: happy employees make happy customers.

4.     Invest in the continuous learning experience
Employees cannot excel if their positions do not suit them. No matter how talented they are, if they cannot leverage their personal skills and attributions, they will never meet your company’s targets.
Still, even if the right persons have been hired, it is important to recognize that skills need to change over time as well. Employees who aren’t stimulated to continually learn more may feel that the right role has become the wrong fit.
Especially for millennials, the “ability to learn and progress” is very important to help them feel fulfilled. Manpower Group mentioned in their ‘Millennial careers: 2020 vision’ paper that 4 out of 5 individuals look at the opportunity to learn new skills when considering a new job opportunity. Glassdoor also revealed that 42% of their millennial respondents indicated that they would most likely leave a company if they are not learning fast enough. This is especially relevant to consider in a scale-up, as likely most of your employees will come from this age group.


How can an ecosystem help

A dynamic talent marketplace can not only help in the hiring process, but it can also be used to identify the internal talents of a company and see if there’s a real fit between the persons and the positions.

Together with B-Hive, is using TalentBuzz: a digital talent marketplace that uses state-of-the-art AI technology for cross-language competence analysis and skill-to-job matchmaking. It combines hard skill matching with soft skill tests (e-assessments, digital skills, personality skills and a fit for the future test) to easily assess whether a candidate or employee fits the position. TalentBuzz will be used at SuperNova to connect high potentials with the exhibiting tech companies. 

Another thing that can help in the talent challenge is getting useful insights and tips from experts in the field. is hosting its second meetup on May 31st and welcomes the following panel members to share their thoughts on talent:

The panel is moderated by Vincent Stevens, Partner at Headlight

Our meetup on talent is a members’ only event. Want to join? Become a member here