Watching your company grow can be both exhilarating and terrifying. You enjoy the revenue, but also worry about keeping up with the demand. And what about your staff, especially when it grows so large that you’re in danger of forgetting people's names? How can you be certain your people are getting what they need to do their jobs well?
Follow these surefire tips for effectively managing a large staff:
- Pay attention. It’s easy to focus on your own work when you have a large and able staff supporting you. But if you neglect your people for too long, you could be in trouble. It’s important to pay attention to how your people are doing. Are they overtaxed — consistently working long hours and/or taking work home? Are you articulating the company’s direction in a way they understand?
- Learn how to tolerate growing pains. Before you can withstand the pangs of growth, you must ask yourself questions like, “Is my company ready for expansion?” “How can I prepare my employees for growth?” “What kinds of problems do I foresee, and do I have adequate resources to handle them properly?” Accommodating growth doesn’t occur overnight; you must become comfortable with the process of managing your growth.
- Implement a solid system for performance appraisals. No matter how skillful your staff may be, you must always provide a mechanism for employee evaluations. With a small staff it’s easier to conduct informal reviews, but as you add more people, this task becomes more challenging. Do yourself and your employees a favor by putting into practice an appraisal system that’s right for your company — one that truly facilitates understanding between you and your employees. Consider adding peer reviews and self-reviews to your mix.
- Match people with projects. With a large staff, it’s easy (even tempting) to assume people are doing their appropriate tasks adequately. Let’s face it: it’s not easy to keep up with what’s on everyone’s plate. One way to avoid losing track is to make sure you match people with the right projects. If someone is mismatched with a particular task, that could slow down the whole company. Effectively aligning your resources with the appropriate function adds to the company’s efficiency, which ultimately affects the bottom line. Division of labor becomes critical as your staff grows.
- Commit to training and development. Identifying appropriate educational opportunities, and making them available, lets your people know that you’re interested and invested in their professional development. Providing them with the tools to do their best work will keep them motivated and increase their loyalty to the company.
- Create a collaborative and friendly culture. It’s just a fact of life: the more people you have, the greater the chance of conflict. Create a workplace characterized by mutual trust and respect. High ethical standards should be the norm, and those who cannot abide by company rules should face the consequences. Be consistent and firm but respectful, too. Communicate what's expected, and demonstrate your commitment to that standard.
- Simulate a small staff environment when you can. Occasionally, you might hear someone grumbling about the size of your staff: “I don’t know anyone anymore” or “Who’s that?” You can’t stop growth (well, you can, but you probably don’t want to), but you can simulate a “small office” ambiance. Get everyone together for a spontaneous ice cream social, distribute an e-mail newsletter announcing all new hires (including some background on them), and make sure you know everyone by name.