Growth – the holy grail of most businesses. The question – how do you align your team building strategy with your growth?

As a company grows, its functional disciplines remain similar but there is usually a greater level of sophistication required in each area. Essentially, as a business’ size increases, typically its complexity does as well. The skills required for a sales manager in a $3m business will be different to the skills required for a $130m or $330m business. For example, in a $3m business, the sales ‘manager’ may well be the sales person. As the business grows, while base requirements such as sales skills will remain, there will be a greater requirement for management skills, process development and the ability to solve more complex problems.

What this means for team building is that your growth plan should include a map of the skills required for your future. This list of skills should include attributes you determine are needed for the business in two to three years’ time. For example, do you need innovation skills to develop a new product range? Will you need specialised capital or treasury skills in your senior financial people to gain access to investment funding? Will you need new or extended skills in your supply chain or distribution channels to handle different products or customers? These are all things that should be mapped as part of your growth plan.

Once this is done, you can compare your future profile with the skills and competencies you have within the business and your existing team today. In particular, this matrix should be completed for the leadership team. An ideal skills matrix takes into account individual development plans to determine if some of the future skills are being (or can be) developed internally. This then gives you a portfolio of skills and attributes to incorporate into the requirements for future hires. As a general rule, you should recruit today for the skills and attributes you have identified you need in approximately two to three years’ time.

In summary, to align your team with your growth plan:

1. Determine what the business will look like in the future

2. Map the attributes and behaviours you need to get there

3. Map the skills you already have within your team

4. Match the required skills against your existing skill set to identify gaps

5. Assess whether any ‘missing’ skills can be developed internally

6. Determine how you will develop those skills – e.g. additional training, mentoring etc.

7. Ensure the skills not able to be grown internally are flagged so they can be included in future hiring profiles.

Best practice is to update this gap analysis on a regular basis. In fact, if you are proactive and constantly looking ahead for skills, you may position your business to constantly grow from within. This has the advantage of leveraging the existing cultural alignment of those already in the business. After all, it is the culture fit…or lack of it…that often undoes a new recruit. Given you may still occasionally recruit a specific skill into the business from the outside, this approach also offers you the benefit of reducing the need for external recruitment.