Skills for scaling – The Daily ScaleUp with Kim McAllister

Building leadership talent must be a focus for all scale-ups, yet often it gets pushed down the list of priorities.

The pace of growth can threaten to overwhelm leaders. Even Lesley Eccles, co-founder of fantasy sports app – and unicorn – FanDuel, admitted to me once that, at one point, there were so many new faces, she had no idea who worked for her and who didn’t.

Making sure your key staff can handle the growing team is crucial to a business’s continued success – but how on earth do they do that?

“By investing time in yourself and in them,” says Malcolm McGregor, director and founder of Broadreach Retail Consultancy.

“You’re so task-focused when you’re growing you often ignore the needs of the individual. When a team increases quickly you have to be really good at planning.”

He raised an interesting point about formalizing the knowledge in the company. One person can’t hold all the keys – that information has to be accessible and there has to be a process for the right people to access it.

As companies scale, job roles have a habit of changing out of all recognition, so this is another argument for taking the time to know individuals.

“Match their skills to your needs and performance manage them so that they are reaching their full potential. Be very clear about the objectives and nurture them. In a scale up especially stakes are often high, so encourage them, protect them when things don’t go so well and celebrate with them to build their confidence. Do it well and they won’t leave,” he says.

It seems the key here is time – something probably none of us has in abundance. But it makes sense that a little time spent early on laying the right foundations should pay dividends in the long term.

Tomorrow, I chat to one organization gathering all the local scale-ups for the benefit of the next generation…

Kim McAllister is a Journalist & Communications Consultant and director of Impact Online