Debbie Millin

Growing Globally: 5 Factors in Getting the Right People in the Right Seats

by Debbie Millin
November 2017

There’s a concept in Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t by Jim Collins in which the author envisions the company as a bus, and the management team needs to get the right people in the right seats. Nowhere is this more important than in a rapidly growing company that is trying to change the tires on the bus while driving 100 miles per hour — this is especially true when trying to expand your company internationally.

Naturally, the first thing the leadership team needs to do is find the right people to bring along for the ride. In the first part of this series, I wrote about how to identify and implement the right technology in a scaling company. Technology is important, but you need the right people in place to make that technology work and support your rapid growth.

Often when a company is growing quickly the instinct is to hurry up and get bodies in the door — don’t let this be your downfall. Having the right team with you during pivotal points of growth is actually the most important factor to your success. When you are looking for new talent keep these five factors to keep in mind.

Make the time

“I don’t have time to interview and train people.” — If I only had a nickel for every time a manager has said that to me. I know you are busy and there are lots of things pulling you in different directions. News flash: it’s not going to get any better if you just keep doing things yourself.

One of my favorite things to say is “slow down to go faster,” which is applicable in many areas but hiring is one of them. You need to take the time to get the right people in the door and trained if you want your company to grow.

Hold on (for dear life) to your culture

You know who you are – you know what your company stands for, what your employees are like, and what it takes to get the job done in your organization. There are going to be many resumes of highly qualified candidates that pass across your desk, but not all of those people will fit your culture. I have worked with incredibly talented people that I simply would not bring into a specific company because I know they wouldn’t fit the culture – and that means it wouldn’t be a good fit for them or for the company.

The worst thing you can do to your amazing company is hurry up and just get people in the door, when in your gut you know they are not the right fit. I have seen this phenomenon time and again during my career, and I can tell you from experience this approach will actually slow you down. You and your team will spend a lot of energy trying to get this person to be a better fit, and in many cases, it does not work. You are left with an administrative mess on your hands, AND you’re still not getting the work done. Do yourself and your team a favor and wait for the right person – it is always worth the wait.

Get yourself some utility players

Let’s move from the worst thing you can do to the best thing you can do when hiring in rapidly growing companies. Get yourself some utility players. What does that mean? In baseball, a utility player is defined as someone who can competently play several positions on the field. These are the people who can wear many hats, and fill multiple roles (at once or over time).

When your company is starting out, it is crucial to have people like this on your staff to fill multiple roles that will evolve in ways you cannot predict. These team members will give you flexibility as you grow, and it gives them the ability to grow in different ways for their own professional development.

Perhaps your existing team already knows some of these people from previous jobs — that makes it nice and easy. If you are sorting through resumes this can be a more difficult thing to identify. Look for candidates who have a history of jumping in to get the job done in a variety of disciplines. That could be in jobs over the course of a 10-year career, or in course projects, internships, and extra-curricular activities for a recent college grad. Utility players can — and should — be from all experience levels to give your company the best opportunity for success.

Make diversity a priority

Diversity matters, and is quite simply a good business decision on multiple levels. A recent Harvard Business Review article states:

“A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean.”

From a business perspective, study after study has proven that diverse teams are more productive and more profitable – exactly what you need in a company experiencing rapid growth. If that’s not enough to convince you, there are an increasing number of studies showing that candidates are looking for diversity when searching for a job. The diversity of your team is becoming just as important to employees as it is to the company itself.

Having diversity in your company does not just happen — it needs to be a focus of your management team from the recruiting process through professional development and management training. HR should ensure there is a diverse pool of candidates for every position, and across the organization, the company should look at diversity in every form: gender, race, age and experience level.

Keep them engaged

Once you have found these amazing people, you want to keep them with you. Here are a few strategies we have utilized at Globalization Partners as we’ve grown:

  • Hold on-site training for new hires. We hold a one-week intensive GP University for our new hires and fly people to headquarters from all over the world whenever we can. It is important to start your new team members off on the right foot and give them a sense of your culture from the start. “101” classes give basic information and exposure across all departments, and “201” classes give more in-depth information depending on their specific role. We group hires to start on the same day whenever possible as a “class” — it consolidates the number of times our “professors” need to present and gives new hires that “graduating class” feel to take with them throughout their employment.
  • Give opportunities to engage. Managers hold regular department meetings, and we hold monthly all-staff meetings to keep everyone up to date on activities across the company. With remote employees around the world it’s important to vary your staff meeting times to accommodate multiple time zones and have regular touch points with them — a phone call or email just to say hello goes a long way!
  • Get creative with your benefits. It’s often difficult for growing businesses to offer massive benefit packages that will draw in candidates — so get creative. My favorites at Globalization Partners
    • Sabbatical — after 5 years at the company, employees get 6 weeks paid sabbatical to travel anywhere in the world AND a substantial travel allowance
    • Parental Leave — new moms AND dads get a generous leave (let’s stop saying Maternity Leave everyone)
  • Reviews and constant conversations. We hold quarterly reviews because things change so quickly when you’re growing rapidly. It allows managers to give immediate feedback and gives an opportunity for employees to express interest in other areas and align goals for the next quarter to help support their interests. It does take time to do these so frequently, but investing in our employees is worth it!
Debbie Millin

Debbie Millin

Debbie Millin, Chief Operating Officer, joined Globalization Partners in May 2016. With 20 years of operational, project management, and client relationship experience in a variety of industries, Debbie’s specialization is supporting companies experiencing rapid growth scale their systems and processes. Debbie has helped grow Globalization Partners to be the No. 1 fastest growing women-led company in America, and has helped two companies achieve the honor of No. 1 fastest-growing private company in Boston — including Globalization Partners in 2017.