7 Tips for Managing a Growing Team Without Sacrificing Quality
Written by Krisi Rossi O’Donnell, Vice President of Staffing & Recruiting at LaSalle Network, a staffing and recruiting firm headquartered in Chicago, a past Inner City 100 winner.
A growing team is usually a good sign for a manager and for the company, but it can present managers with unique obstacles, including identifying high-quality candidates, successfully onboarding and training new staff and ensuring existing employees are still happy and productive, all while maintaining the team’s standards for excellence.
As the economy continues to improve, and hiring picks up at companies, more and more managers will be faced with this dilemma. So how can managers grow their team without sacrificing quality?
- Hire for team fit and culture fit. Don’t bring just anyone into the team dynamic. Be protective of the company culture and the unique team subculture within it. Interview several candidates for every open position, and have at least two to three people from the team interview them as well to ensure they’re a team culture fit. Typically, if a few employees have hesitations, it isn’t the right fit. Another way to gauge culture fit is to host an informal team event like a happy hour, and invite the candidate. In a relaxed setting, candidates tend to reveal their true personality, a great indicator of whether they will fit with the team.
- Micromanage to start. Details can fall through the cracks when managers train a higher volume of new employees. It’s the perpetual struggle: companies are hiring because they are growing and expanding, and they need new hires to begin contributing quickly, but training takes time. However, investing time on the front end will actually save time fixing mistakes on the back end. For the first few months, overtrain and micromanage new hires to ensure everyone is learning the right way. Create a set schedule for new hires to follow and structure their day, leaving nothing to chance. Explain to staff you will be working closely with them for their first few weeks and months to ensure they are learning and developing. Setting the expectation for micromanagement up front and explaining why helps eliminate the negative feelings typically associated with this management style. Micromanaging ensures staff follows best practices and executes at a high level. It also ensures levels of service are maintained and quality isn’t sacrificed.
- Have team veterans train new hires. Give longer tenured employees the responsibility of training newer team members on core tasks. Work with them to develop the curriculum, explain expectations for the training, and then empower them to execute it. It’s a great way for existing employees to get to know new hires, and it makes the more experienced employees feel valued.
- Involve employees in long-term goals. Strong leaders have a clear vision of where their team is headed. They know exactly the contribution the team can make to the company’s bottom line and how their performance can affect the company’s growth. Share this! Describe your vision for what the team will be in two, five and ten years, and ask the team for ideas about how they can help accomplish this vision. Get them excited about the growth and opportunities that lie ahead.
- Touch base with team veterans.As the team grows, regularly connect with the team’s original employees to determine how they’re feeling and to keep them engaged. During times of change or transition, sometimes this touch is the most important. Tenured employees can often feel overlooked or are hesitant to approach a busy manager with questions or concerns. Schedule time to meet with them regularly and let them have the floor to talk about whatever is one their mind. Shoot them an email to remind them you are thinking of them and want to know about their progress.
- Take it back to the basics…often. As the team grows, host a training on best practices for everyone. Longer tenured employees likely need a refresher as much as the new hires need to be brought up to speed. This also creates a forum for discussion: tenured employees can share examples to help new hires understand the why behind the best practice, and new hires can pose questions on concepts they don’t understand.
- Move desks. Have employees on the team regularly switch desks. Not only does this ensure the team gets to know each other as new members are hired, but it’s also been proven to keep employees energized and help increase morale.
Vice President of Staffing & Recruiting at LaSalle Network, a staffing and recruiting firm headquartered in Chicago. Krisi Rossi O’Donnell has over ten years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry, and has placed professionals in technology, accounting, finance and executive leadership positions. As Vice President of Staffing and Recruiting, O’Donnell manages 37 people across four business units. She is responsible for managing the internal process for identifying, qualifying and placing candidates.