Not Business as Usual: Whether within or without, growth requires talent
This challenge is a good one to have but that doesn’t it make it any easier to solve. The entrepreneurial owner/manager has survived sleepless nights, twenty-hour days, bounced checks, employee desertions, and cash shortages. Now the opportunity/requirement may be at hand to expand the talent ranks.
For many of these startup veterans, their natural inclination is to first view their personal activity involvement and categorize their level of strategic activity. Once completed, they can then set about finding talent to address that area they deem having the most restricting impact on their personal ability to continue to grow their company. Some decide quickly that the best source for this talent must reside in the market and set about a course for finding, recruiting and ultimately employing this talent. In a talent constricted area such as Grand County, this may very well require recruiting from outside the county.
What is often underestimated in this pursuit are the actual costs that such an undertaking involves. Most are quite familiar or comfortable with the traditional costs of recruiting and quite correctly plan for these in their budgets. What is often overlooked, however, are the learning curve costs that every new hire brings. Whether the learning curve has to do with the industry dynamics, the culture of the company, the company’s proprietary position, etc., no outside hire starts day one “on top of the game.” Clearly the more talented ones get up to speed quicker, but there is still a time lag and therefore a loss of effectiveness or efficiency. Interestingly enough, the more “niche” the business and the closer the niche is connected to a proprietary function, the longer it takes to “get up to speed.”
Consider for example a company that uses a proprietary production process to produce a niche product. While assistance in an accounting function might be easily obtained and quickly implemented, expertise in this manufacturing process will not. The very uniqueness of the competitive advantage of the process directly implies that specific knowledge or experience is not “on the street.” So any employment in this area carries a higher risk of delayed effectiveness.
To minimize this risk, some entrepreneurial managers make the conscious decision to address issues of core competency solely from within. They often recognize that their personal and historical involvement is a core strength of the company, but now this core strength is inhibiting growth. So to maintain this competitive learning and still allow themselves to focus outward, they opt to view this employment need as one of incremental growth for a current employee. For example, if the entrepreneur was the de facto production manager of a proprietary production process, then his or her best assistant might be given the opportunity to move into greater responsibility yet not total responsibility. An overseeing or mentoring system is set up to allow the entrepreneur’s unique experience to be a continuing strength but it no longer is a continuing focus. The newly promoted employee is monitored to insure that the additional responsibility can be successfully embraced and the organizational disruption and inefficiency are minimized.
Managed growth is something everybody strives for yet no one can ever quite agree on defining. For every company, however, the key resides in managing expertise and efficiency. A focused mentoring in the company’s proprietary area is the surest chance to achieve both.
Following a successful international business career, John Riddell turned his attention to small business/entrepreneurial pursuits that included corporate turn-arounds, start-ups, teaching as an adjunct business school professor, authoring award winning business and sports columns, and serving as VP for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce directing its Center for Entrepreneurial Growth. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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