The Three Ps of Fast Growth: Planning, People, Partnering
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Step 2: It’s All About The People
Leaders of Fast Growth companies recognize that their firms are only as good as their people. Many engage in “opportunistic hiring,” that is, bringing on employees with outstanding resumes although there is no specific job outlined for them. And when it’s not practical to hire, they still interview, carefully keeping track of prospects so when the time comes, help is just a phone call or e-mail away. For example, BlueWater maintains a database of candidates it can reach out to when needed.
“We’ve had some big challenges acquiring a talent pool,” said Shields. “We had to get good at networking and finding engineering and salespeople.” IP Pathways continuously discusses and gives training so that the quality of service is maintained. The company hires both recent college grads and highly specialized technologists with years of experience on their resumes. “It’s a mix. For a marketing position, we looked at recent marketing and graphic design college grads. We have a great local graphic design school. So we went right to a college grad for that. Other tech positions want experience; these folks need to have a baseline understanding of what the customer is looking for.”
In a down economy, there are plenty of resumes to wade through. The challenge is finding the truly exceptional candidates, the ones that differentiate themselves based on their skills, their background and their personalities. As these companies have seen double- and triple-digit growth, they’ve started to witness the challenges of maintaining large staffs. Companies are often tested when instead of hiring 10 then 20, then 25 people, they are hiring 20, 40, 80 even 800 people, said Jimenez.
“So you are making sure that they are equipped and have the tools they need and are educated on new challenges,” said Jimenez. “And, of course, you run the risk that once they’re trained, they leave to go to a competitor.”
Jimenez said that training staff helps keep them relevant, and although their extra knowledge makes them attractive to “poachers” from other companies, it does help retain employees. “People want to be a part of a winning team, one that embraces new technology,” he said, but noted that hiring is always a challenge. And once the right match is found, you hope the new employee is not a “job hopper,” Jimenez noted: “Rather than get good at something and find where their skills match, they leave for another opportunity.”
Retention is always a source of concern, but continuing to invest in new technologies seems to help entice employees to stay. The key, say the execs, is to offer technology that is exciting and provides the opportunity for employees to excel by offering clients unique solutions. After all, they are technologists, and they enjoy learning and testing their skills.
NEXT: Step 3: Grow With Your Partners