As the CEO or MD of a fast growing business, it can be very hard to realise that the people you hired in the early days, who have shown great loyalty to you and the business, are no longer the people that your business needs if it’s to achieve the next stage of growth. The fact is that businesses outgrow people just as often as people outgrow businesses or roles. and hiring the right people is not always easy.
Your loyal, hardworking admin assistant, (let’s call him Mark), who has been with you since the early days, and gradually picked up responsibility for finance admin along the way, has somehow taken on more and more responsibility until he seems to have become your Bookkeeper by default. But in order for your business to grow to its next stage, you’ll soon need more than a Bookkeeper; you’ll need a Financial Controller and eventually a Finance Director.
Tough decisions ahead
It’s possible that Mark may be ready to step up to Bookkeeper with the right training and support. But it’s unlikely he will be ready to become Financial Controller or Finance Director at the time the business needs one – that kind of career development takes years. This means that, at some point in the near future, you will be hiring Mark’s new boss. How might Mark feel about that, having been loyal to you since the early days, working hard and training for a more demanding role?
Mark will probably find this hard to accept. He knows he is getting better in his role, and no longer being the No.1 accounting person in the business would be a blow to his pride. Under these circumstances it’s very possible that Mark will choose to leave your business rather than stay and report to a new line manager, when previously he reported directly to you, the ultimate boss.
Businesses can grow faster than people
As Robert Glazer (CEO of Acceleration Partners) notes in this podcast interview – it is entirely natural and understandable that this will happen in a growing business. Businesses can feasibly grow at a rate of 10%, 20% or even 50% in a year and it’s hard for people to develop and grow their skill sets at the same rate. You will need to have uncomfortable conversations when you reach this point. Failure to do so will hold your business back, and could even damage it beyond repair. Acceleration Partners has developed a programme open to all staff encouraging open conversations about transitioning to leave the business at the right time, and providing help and support for those staff to find new roles. Your business may not decide to go to those lengths, but difficult conversations still need to take place, and you will find yourself in the position of having to move on good people for the sake of the business.
Sometimes it’s tough being the boss.
On the flip side, you will also need to hire the right people for the right roles, at the right time. And, while that is also daunting and potentially challenging, it is, at least, something that we can help with.
Get in touch today if you’d like to find out more about our Finance Team Diagnostics Session. We’ll assess how well your current finance team structure, skills and experience are meeting the needs of your business, and recommend the optimum way to structure and staff it for future growth and success.