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The Language Of Growth

Tänk dig att du hade ett framgångsrikt, snabbväxande företag som var helt beroende av sitt humankapital för sitt affärsvärde. Tänk dig sedan att ni hade svårigheter att rekrytera och behålla personal för att upprätthålla den höga standard som en gång gjort er så framgångsrika. Det är precis den situation som språkserviceföretaget Prestige Network befann sig i. Som tur var kunde Hub Network komma till deras hjälp (översatt av Prestige Network).

A problem of prestige

Prestige Network had grown consistently, but its growth had outstripped its ability to recruit, leading to stress on both staff and directors. A stress that was holding the company back. Prestige’s High Growth Coach suggested that they contact the Leadership Advisers programme for help on leadership, recruitment and staff management.  

Prestige Network is a company that was suffering from its own success. Started 16 years ago, Prestige originally sold word processing software with the ability to deal with foreign languages. The company soon moved into language services and has grown strongly and consistently. However, success came at a price: Prestige had significant problems finding and keeping the right staff, as their High Growth Business Coach David Pollard explains, “Prestige have a small full-time staff base, and an enormous number of self-employed subcontractors who give them the ability to cover the range of languages that clients require. It’s a major problem to manage this resource as the company grows, and we could see that one of the things Prestige needed to do was to build a business structure that enabled them to grow significantly – both management, strategy and infrastructure.”  

Prestige might have been successful, but MD Shoreh Fleming could see they could achieve more, and she was aware that the success they already had was actually holding back further growth.  

“We had to cope with the stresses caused by growth – new people joining and a new management team. The Directors and I are trying to take a step back from the day-to-day work, but we have to do it gradually, and that’s a difficult process.”  

It was proving almost impossible for Shoreh and her team of Directors to hand their operational responsibilities over to a management team, but they knew they had to do just that if the business was to move on to the next stage of growth.  

David’s suggestion was that Shoreh and her team work with Leadership Development Adviser (LDA) Ann Sankey. The LDAs are funded by SEEDA to help owners and managers of high growth-businesses such as those being supported by the Enterprise Hubs to develop effective leadership skills. The programme offers up to five days of specialist support from a dedicated adviser. Prestige’s adviser Ann Sankey explains, “Staff turnover at Prestige was high partly due to the culture at the organisation, but also because they didn’t properly appreciate the importance of recruiting and retaining staff, and that it is a part of the business you have to work on, just like any other. High growth companies have a lot of things to worry about and Human Resource (HR) issues can move down the agenda – companies have to be careful to invest enough time in getting and keeping the right workforce, otherwise they may find their most valuable asset walks.”  

Shoreh agrees, “No business can grow without people. We were struggling to find sales people; but we knew that finding the right people would make a big difference to our growth. And we knew we had to have the right management structure in place to support that growth.”    

Recruitment woes

Leadership Advisers helped Prestige to create a middle management tier to take pressure off senior management. They also gave Prestige advice on staff recruitment, and helped to recruit a key member of staff. The company is now equipped to develop effectively.  

Ann’s initial work focused on strategic activities to get a middle management team at Prestige established, but as part of that it became clear that Prestige were struggling with recruitment. Shoreh explains, “We had some major staff issues; we were a growing company with big ideas but we were struggling with recruitment. We felt we were choosing the wrong people.”  

Fortunately, Ann was able to offer practical help immediately. “The Directors at Prestige knew they were being stretched, and that they had to put in a middle management tier,”  she explains. “The problem was that they had not given enough thought to what that meant in terms of defining roles and responsibilities, and matching those to the right people.”  

Using the Insights Discovery profiling tool, Ann produced profiles of all the senior management team, so they knew their areas of strength and weakness. Prestige’s immediate issue was the recruitment of a Sales Director. Ann worked up an ideal profile for this role, and helped Prestige to write a job description.

Once the short-term issues were dealt with Ann was able to work with David, Shoreh and the rest of the Prestige team on developing an effective middle management tier, and equipping that team with the skills, and importantly the permission to manage the company.  

Shoreh admits that it was difficult to let go, but says that the company is now reaping the benefits of having effective operations management, “The whole company has been affected – everyone is now thinking about how the company can move forwards. And that has freed the Directors up from day-to-day responsibilities, so we can concentrate on more strategic issues.”  

David says, “In many respects letting go is the biggest hurdle Directors face if they are to grow their companies. Making that leap to running the business as if it were much bigger, where the Directors direct, and let the managers do their jobs is a huge psychological step.”  

Ann explains, “The senior team in any company sets the behavioural tone for the whole company. Often companies don’t understand how much their attitudes impact on their staff.”  

Prestige now have a management team of five: Sales; Accounting, Translation, Interpreting and HR. David Pollard can see that this made a real difference immediately, “When orders come in, of whatever size, Prestige now know there is a team of people who will make it happen. And if they can’t make it happen then the company now has a culture that allows them to come to the Directors and say ‘we’ve got a problem’. As the company grows it will need more people, but it’s now got the structure and processes to recruit and employ them much more effectively. “    

“When you are involved in small things you cannot think about long term issues,” says Shoreh. “Now we have more thinking time – to spend on bigger issues – because we know the management team will take care of the rest.”  

For more information visit:

Contact: Ally Charles


High Growth Business Coaching Website

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