Ronald Burr: Why the ability to adapt as your needs change can have a big impact on your culture

Knowing how to recruit the best talent is one mark of a good CEO, but a truly great leader will also understand how to shift staffing gears to accommodate company growth.

As your company grows and evolves, staffing does, too. The talent you may require and attract when building a bootstrapped startup differs from that of a mid-sized organization or large public company. It takes a skilled business leader to not only distinguish when the company is ready for a more structured hiring regime, but also how to seamlessly transition goals as various requirements ebb and flow.

 

What does that evolution look like, and what should leaders be considering every step of the way?

 

Don’t spare the effort when hiring

When launching a new business, building a foundational team of A-plus players is crucial. There is benefit to recruiting seasoned veterans, but you also need flexible team members willing to wear many hats — often without support, structured hours or well-defined job descriptions.

It’s important to find employees who can maximize efficiency within a more loosely structured hierarchy and environment, and who feel comfortable moving fluidly from one role to another depending on where they are most needed.

Entrepreneurs should look for attitude in addition to aptitude. Working in a startup environment demands a scrappy and hungry approach, which can be difficult to find in a professional that feels they are beyond the do-it-all necessity of a startup.

Compensation is also an issue within startup environments. You often need to put together a package with long-term upside over short-term cash, which isn’t always attractive to the most experienced candidates.

 

Hiring in the later stages of a company’s growth

There comes a point where employee structure and day-to-day roles should reflect a more organized business strategy. As a company begins to attract investment, drive revenue and/or diversify product or service offerings, the free-flowing work organization and malleable job descriptions of a startup become increasingly less effective.

Later phase recruiting requires specific expertise and maturity to build out distinct areas of the business.

Subject matter specialization, a more clearly defined hierarchy, career path and advancement opportunities, policy and procedure are the hallmarks of a maturing organization. There is room for an entrepreneurial spirit, but it tends to support the culture rather than maturation of the organization.

Management may face the unenviable task of identifying when early-day supporters should be let go to pursue new ventures.

 

Transitioning existing employees from startup life to a more structured corporate environment might not be a smooth process; those who were the best during the startup phase may not be right to take the organization forward.

It’s important to be prepared for great employees who were there on day one to seek new startup opportunities and feed their need for new. As long as you identify long-term goals and shift hiring strategies to match the needs of a mature business, you will be able to recruit new talent able to take your company even further.