Your company is successful — so successful that you're expanding into new markets. It's great news, but it doesn't come without challenges. Human resources has many considerations to keep in mind as you streamline business processes in new markets and hire to fill newly created positions. Maintaining a strong management culture as you expand to operate across distinct markets can be a challenge, but with proper foresight, it's absolutely achievable.
Here are five tips to get it done right:
1. Strategize Before You Begin
What do you want to carry throughout your entire business? What is critical? Is it your culture? Your vision? Your market plan?
Those ideals will vary from business to business, but don't wait until you hire to consider those questions. Some startups may want to maintain a relaxed culture with perks such as game rooms and group outings, while other companies prefer to focus on excellent performance and achievements. If it's important to your company that a "free spirit" attitude accompanies the expansion into new markets, for example, you don't want to hire someone with outdated ideas to streamline business processes.
Other important considerations at this stage include reporting and other management processes. What monthly reports are critical? What is your reporting structure? Will all people at the new offices report to a managing director, with that director reporting into the corporate office? Or will the reporting be functional (HR reporting to HR, sales to sales, finance to finance)? Either structure will work, but each will result in a dramatically different culture. Make your hiring decisions carefully and purposefully, and don't wait until you've hired everyone to start thinking about the cultural and structural needs of your expanded enterprise.
2. Be Honest When You Hire
Often, employers get in the habit of "selling" the company to strong candidates. Of course, you want the best people possible, but you want them to stick around as well. It's important to first lay out exactly how your company operates. Make a list of the challenges and go over them with the candidates, especially for the new leadership. They need to have a clear understanding of expectations before they sign on the dotted line, and nothing will destabilize your new office quite like quick turnover.
3. Bring Your New Management Into the Home Office
Email, phone calls, video conferencing and instant message are amazing tools to help you narrow your pool of candidates throughout the hiring process. Once you've vetted your top candidates, don't underestimate the power of face to face meetings. When your new management hires sit down at a conference table with their counterparts at the home office, they'll rapidly understand how things work. They'll see how the senior team interacts with the junior staff and with each other.
When you rapidly open new offices, these face-to-face meetings with the home office become critical. It's natural that proximity will lead to bonding, but you don't want the unit to become an entity unto itself, separate from the corporate team. It's HR leadership's responsibility to keep corporate actively involved.
4. Provide Regular Feedback
Expanding markets require a tremendous amount of input. Amid the activity, senior leaders may feel they don't have time to sit down with the new managers and provide feedback. But your goal to have consistent company culture and practices will fail without this critical feedback process. Human Resources needs to make it a top priority to follow up with the leadership team to make sure that new management has the feedback and support needed to make expansion a success. Each office will develop slightly different practices and procedures, and that's OK, as long as the overall company vision remains.
5. Conduct Regular Site Visits
Just as bringing the site management into the home office can help build a cohesive culture, sending these employees out to the field can serve the same purpose. You'll find that some things have to be different because the market is different. Still, it's best to have representatives from the home office nip potential problems in the bud early on; they'll be almost impossible to overcome once habits become ingrained. Act now. This may even mean letting people go when necessary to make sure everyone, in each location, is working towards a common goal.
Opening new offices and expanding into new markets can be an exciting, as well as challenging, time. Follow these steps and the transition has a solid chance of going smoothly — at least on the HR side of things!
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