Company Growth Phases-Aligning Hiring and Retention Practices

The other day I mentioned company growth phases in my review of Seeing the Big Picture. I thought it warranted more discussion, because it’s something I honestly hadn’t considered previously. Here’s a quote from the book:

Company growth phases are fairly standard. Startup, growth, maturity, decline. But what about the types of employees required in each phase of growth? I think it can shift over time. New companies look for people to take risks, work long hours, etc. Mature companies want to maintain what they have and reduce risk, which means hiring an entirely different set of employees.

company growth phasesI was mulling that over, and then I remembered another book review I had done on Jolt: Get the Jump on a World that is Constantly Changing. One of the quotes there tied in perfectly:

Growth oriented organizations require growth oriented people.
-Phil Cooke

Aligning hiring and retention practices with company growth phases

I’m working for a company that is still in the startup/growth portion of the phases. Our hiring and retention practices are (and should be) very different from those of a company in the maturity phase. We need people who are willing to take risks, take on additional tasks outside their scope, and buy into our mission/culture 100%.

I’m trying to imagine how transitioning into a “mature” organization will affect who we hire. Will we want more steady performers who aren’t interested in rocking the boat (are those B players, by the way?)? Will we relax our hiring standards and allow some people who are solid performers yet not strong culture fits? I’m not sure, but I’d love to hear from someone who has made that leap and survived.

Company growth phases-decline

I’ve had friends who worked for companies in the declining phase. Based on what I’ve heard, it’s normally a sad, unpleasant experience where people want to jump ship as quickly as possible. I haven’t had the experience, so I can’t speak for it firsthand; however, I can’t imagine trying to hire and keep people on staff in this type of environment.

My previous manager sometimes talked about her experience with laying off dozens of employees as a government program shut down over time. Instead of focusing on hiring and motivating staff, it’s all about keeping enough warm bodies in the seats until it’s time to shut the doors. Heartbreaking, but it’s a part of life I suppose.

Company growth phases-startup

These are the flashy, high profile companies that people love talking about (Facebook, etc.). These companies are working to hire the smartest, most competent individuals in the market, no matter where they have to lure them from. I talk more on these hiring practices in Cash Wrapped in Bacon and Other Recruiting Goodies.

What are your thoughts? Does your current/anticipated spot in the company growth phases determine the type of employees you should hire? Why or why not?

Are you planning to hit a growth spurt? Here’s a set of 4 ways HR can prepare for business growth.