April 8, 2019
There are challenges all through your company when your business enters a phase of rapid growth. Learning how to effectively train managers for hypergrowth can be the critical component that you need to help navigate those challenges successfully.
Management is always an incredibly important part of your business, but never more so than when your company is growing quickly. They are your boots-on-the-ground team that are responsible for making sure that each individual cog in your business machine is turning like it should.
Among other things, your managers are responsible for:
- Welcoming new employees and helping them fit into your company culture.
- Following business processes and procedures to ensure quality and profitability.
- Establishing new guidelines as your company grows.
- Watching for problems and helping find solutions before they derail your progress.
Training managers to help you ride this wave of business success is easier than you might think. Let me show you.
How to Train Managers for Hypergrowth
Your managerial team needs to be truly elite to help you during a time of hypergrowth. Many of the problems that established companies face on a daily basis turn deadly when you grow at an accelerated rate:
- Dawdling over decisions
- Lack of clarity over whose “call” a decision actually is
- Endless meetings with no resolution
- Regular activities with no quality control processes in place
- Ineffective customer communication and follow-up
If your company is climbing that sharp S-curve of hypergrowth, this is your chance to zero in on what does matter right now. You can keep an eye to what you can improve later once you’ve captured market share. Here are some ways to train your managers (be they brand new or veterans in your company) for a period of rapid change.
1. Empower Your High Performers
During hypergrowth, you may not have the luxury of waiting as long to move someone up the promotion ladder. If someone’s results are good and they have strong people skills, begin training them for management as soon as you can.
Less experienced managers need more coaching and mentoring. However, when you are facing the problem of too-few experienced people, a high-performing newer person may be exactly who you need to fill in a skill gap.
A clear performance review process is a great way to quickly help you identify those shining stars. In hypergrowth, you may need performance reviews every 6 months just to make sure you know who is excelling as your company grows.
You can also work with your recruiting team to flag potential high-performers during the hiring process. This helps you keep an eye on rising talent from the beginning.
2. Coach New Managers For Great Feedback
Effective feedback is one of the most integral parts of a manager’s job. To be effective, a manager must be able to deliver feedback in a direct, understandable way without disempowering their employees. Conversely, they also need to avoid praising them so highly that they do not improve.
Most people are naturally reticent to offer critical feedback, so practice does help.
You can set up extensive feedback training that all managers are required to take — including C-Suite employees. This training shows that your company will be a place where people tell the truth and are clear about the results they need.
Bad communication is one of the biggest time-wasters during hypergrowth. You’d be amazed by how much good feedback and communication can actually help your company grow by leaps and bounds.
3. A Check-In Today Saves Time Tomorrow
Letting meetings fall to the wayside until a crisis tends to become the norm during hypergrowth. This leads to shouting, frustration, worry, and a toxic atmosphere of overwork. It isn’t always possible to avoid long hours while you’re growing so quickly. Ideally, people will be working overtime because they are committed to a mission and a vision, not because they are terrified of their managers.
Great managers need to be coached on how to have check-ins with the employees under their supervision. These aren’t long, leisurely lunches to talk about their personal lives. They are devoted times when no one has their email open and an employee can tell their manager what is on their minds.
Weekly check-ins may not need to be more than 10-15 minutes and should have a basic script that they follow.
Employees should say:
- what has been accomplished since the last meeting
- which items are running behind
- what snags have been hit
The manager can provide information that will move the process along and help to eliminate roadblocks.
Check-in meetings should be one-on-one whenever possible because they will almost always waste fewer people’s time this way. If a team really needs a meeting, consider training your managers on how to hold “standing meetings,” where everyone stands and shares their information.
Stand-up meetings tend to not drag on as long as some others. This creates a culture of efficiency where the meeting isn’t a chance to get away from the work, but is instead a source of information to help everyone.
4. Reward Flexibility and Ingenuity
Managers need to work to set their egos aside when someone shows the ability to do something in a new way. Employees should be encouraged to work around constraints placed on them — as long as the employee is working towards progress and not simply being lazy or subversive.
They may not have done things exactly as asked, but if your manager’s notice an employee finding solutions to problems, that is a moment for praise.
Too often, hypergrowth makes managers territorial and fearful. Your company culture needs to encourage flexibility in the managers themselves, as well as in their team. Encourage your managers to find the time to reward the people who manage to save time for the team.
5. Teach Clear Delegation and Deadline Skills
One of the biggest slow-downs in companies are processes that require too many people to sign off on a component of a project before it can move forward. There is a reason for double and triple-checking things, but there is a limit to the need for these hoops. Train your managers to be a part of the solution to bureaucratic slowdowns.
Empower your managers to set deadlines and to clearly delegate tasks. When they give a task to an employee, that person should feel empowered to move forward on it immediately. If your employee says that someone else is holding up the process, the managers should be trained to go and talk with the person and figure out a solution.
This shouldn’t become a territory battle — especially when you are understaffed — but there is no reason for important project components to languish when there is someone empowered to “reroute” that project through a less busy channel.
6. Involve Managers in Hiring Decisions Whenever Possible
Speaking of hiring, get the managers involved whenever you are going through a period of hypergrowth and hiring a lot of people.
Your managers will learn more about who they need on their team in their first few weeks as managers than you could imagine. They will be able to spot a flexible thinker and a highly-qualified candidate quickly. You want to be able to get their insight on who to bring in to fill current gaps in the corporate organization.
A side benefit to this process is that the new employees will fit better into their roles and be more readily accepted by their new team when managers and other team members are involved in the decision to hire them. They feel a sense of investment in the new hire and will help make sure they succeed.
7. Figure Out Achievable KPIs During Hypergrowth, and Share With Managers
One of the hardest compromises during hypergrowth is knowing that some things will simply have to be perfected after market share is established, not while the crazy growth is happening. As soon as your C-Suite has clear objectives for your company in the near-term, help managers get on board with the vision by giving them key performance indicators (KPIs) that accurately reflect what is possible.
Trying to do everything at once is a good recipe for misaligning one’s priorities, and your managers will feel burnt out and ineffective if they cannot zero in on success in the sectors where success is possible. Just as managers need to offer achievable targets to their direct reports, the whole company needs to establish ways for middle managers to feel like they are achieving the goals set out in the mission of the company.
One of the biggest keys to this work is helping your company know how you want to grow (quickly, one would assume, during hypergrowth) and what your measurement of growth is. This could be revenue, leads, subscriptions, or any of a few other possible metrics.
Once your company knows where you consider the core of growth to be, they can put their hard work into moving the needle. If they are expected to grow everything perfectly all at once, then you are likely to get disappointing results.
8. Ask Managers What They Need
This may seem like the most basic advice ever, but you’d be amazed how many places assume they know what managers need to be successful rather than asking them. Create a culture of consistently checking in with managers to see what they could use to be even more effective. This helps you solve huge problems just by adding one more person to a process.
Many people are reluctant to pass negative information up the chain. If you only ask your managers, “What isn’t working?” they will fear telling you negative news. If you rephrase this and instead ask what they need, they get to spin things in a positive way: “We can double our output if we can get one more person processing data next week.”
Train managers to use this method with their team as well.
Hypergrowth tends to be a time when many companies try to build a managerial infrastructure almost overnight. Rather than assuming people will “figure it out,” invest a few of those precious hours in getting excellent training for your managers. You’ll get those hours back in great productivity.
Remember the key components of feedback, check-ins, and delegating. Keep checking back to make sure your managers can implement these concepts. You’ll see the results almost immediately as your company continues to grow.
Whether you need help onboarding an amazing new set of managers or the many other employees needed to move forward in business hypergrowth, contact us for recruitment process outsourcing assistance today!