Building out a technology team is as important as it is challenging. The success of a company is often built on a strong foundation combined with a continuous flow of innovation and improvement in terms of products, management but also in terms of structure. The latter is of crucial importance since teamwork is essential in today’s multidisciplinary world.
In every aspect of a successful business, the diverse skills of different team members are necessary for scaling up and reaching success. George Burgess, founder and CEO of revision app Gojimo claims that each company should invest significant time and consideration into recruitment. According to him, a bad hire can be extremely damaging to a small business moving fast. In other words; firms need people around they can trust, members they can rely on with a noticeable amount of skills and knowledge. Employees need to perform at a very high level in order to create, maintain and forecast a firm’s success.
According to Callum Negus-Fancey, chief executive and co-founder of peer-to-peer sales software company StreetTeam, it is also very important to invest in people. He advises paying ‘top of the market’ to build a strong team because ‘the tangible savings you make in paying less’ won’t compensate for the ‘intangible cost in the loss of quality’. It is possible that your team members are perfectly qualified to handle a business as it is, but that doesn’t mean they are capable of handling a business that’s 10 times bigger. Now, it is very clear that the working team’s importance shouldn’t be underestimated, the question arises how to build the perfect team that can scale up your business?
1. Hire the right people
First, as mentioned above, it is very important to hire the right people. The right person will bring not just a particular skill set or knowledge base, but will be a solid addition to drive forward your company’s vision and values. The attitude and personality of your early team is more critical because start-ups can afford less waste than established businesses. So, in order to stimulate and encourage business growth, the team and its composition is a crucial factor in the growing process. A good example is the recruitment campaign of Heineken named “The Candidate”. This campaign was a video compilation of secretly filmed job interviews. In which, rather than asking questions about business knowledge, experiences, Heineken decided to assess their applicants’ personalities such as confidence and resourcefulness, wit, attitude…and ability to respond to three given unusual circumstances.
2. Learning process of your employees
Second, it is necessary and useful to make sure that your employees are learning and keep learning. One way to do so is to encourage them and financially support training that improves your team’s skill level. A seminar or a workshop for instance are good examples of what encouraging support could look like. Investing in their future also means investing in your company. Logically, you want your employees to use and put into practice what they have learned in theory. This implies that you will have to give up some responsibility and give some autonomy to your employees.
3. Employee commitment
Third, it is important to build employee commitment. Studies show that 88% of fully engaged employees believe that they can positively impact the quality of their organisation’s products and services. Commitment will motivate the team and will automatically embrace innovation and growth. In order to build commitment, employees need to know what is expected from them. Employee commitment can be increased by communicating the firm’s goals in an open way and they should be repeated from time to time. Also, every employee should feel ‘fitting in’ into the team, by involving them into company-wide decisions, employees will feel accepted and useful.
4. Quantitative and qualitative growth
Fourth, while your business is scaling up and growing, your team also needs to follow this pattern from a quantitative as well as a qualitative point of view. Although it is necessary to increase the number of employees while expanding on a (inter)national basis, the number of members per team shouldn’t exceed 5-10 people. This is crucial to have optimal exchange and coordination between them. Moreover, within these teams it should be clear who’s in charge of what and who’s leading the team. As mentioned above, the goals should be communicated clearly and there’s no space for chaos.
In short, scaling up a business requires many changes in terms of structure. On the one hand scaling up can be defined as a ‘problem of more’; the challenge is to add more employees, spread new technologies, open more locations and in the meanwhile maintaining the firm’s producing rhythm and main qualities. On the other hand scaling up a firm can be perceived as a ‘problem of less’; there’s a continuous tensity between increasing quantity/ quality and avoiding members, deals and goals that are inappropriate for the firm’s success.