Skills and Talent. It can be a challenge.

According to the Scale-Up Generator site, the Scale-up Institute organises the challenges faced by scale-up companies into five categories. One that naturally stands out to us and is one we can share some wisdom for is talent and skills. This is one that we help tackle every single day, is a topic of conversation we hear discussed repeatedly when out and about at events in the South West and it is also a favourite topic of conversation during our conversations with our friend Briony, the Scale up Enabler for the West of England.

It’s real, a real challenge. So we wanted to share 4 pieces of wisdom - based on our experience of helping businesses scale up. From start-ups making their first hires or businesses adding an entire business function or team of experts from scratch. We hope that this may help you to craft and curate the team that will enable growth for your business. There are four fundamental things to consider and get right.

Know and define what expertise you need to add to the team to achieve your business’s ambitions. It sounds logical, but we often hear from businesses that know that they need to grow their team - at a loss - not knowing where to start. Sometimes adding a new department or function, sometimes growing out all departments to scale-up. We start with a consultative session to chat through where they’d like to get to, to then help them define and craft exact and specific position descriptions for those key people that this can be achieved through.

  • Define what exactly they’d be expected to achieve overarchingly and strategically and also on a tactical level. What are the areas of responsibility?

  • Then define what skills it will take to do this. Mandatory skills and some nice to haves.

  • Define what could be looked at to validate that the skills that are needed are there. Think specific projects or scenarios they'll have experience of or possibly qualifications, courses taken, self study.

  • Define the attitude you are looking for within the new hire. Do they need to be entrepreneurial, very measured, self motivated, intensely driven?

  • Do this for all roles that are going to be heading up functions or teams especially. You may want to consult with them what skills they see needed within the next hires. That could be a nice one to ask and include in the interview stage. It will give you an indication to find out if their mindset is “growth”, if they can see the potential.

Know what you have to offer. After having gone through the above, you may notice that you are looking for someone rare or exceptional. That’s great. You want to add the best people to your team. Competition to secure top talent is fierce out there. You will need to define what you can offer and how you can best package this up and communicate it to your existing team and also to those you are hunting for.

  • Define fair compensation and bonus structure.

  • Think about who you are as an employer, your values, the behaviours that are at the core of everything you do as a business and as individuals.

  • Also consider perks. Some businesses offer free gym memberships, flexibility, remote working, free drinks and foods, company trips - the list goes on. These things do matter and may make a candidate choose the other job offer over yours.

Get the cultural fit right. Definitely one point that we mention a lot. You need to ensure that it’s a right fit culturally. The way we go about it is to check during all conversations and interviews with potential new hires that they share our values and behaviours. If we all share the same approach and attitude at the very core of everything we do (being honest, knowledgeable, straightforward, progressive and dedicated) - then we know that it will all work smoothly. This approach may also work for you.

Retain those that you have found. You’ve most likely gone through great lengths to find those that tick all the skill boxes and are a good fit. Now it’s important to hold on to them. Part of this is to get “what you stand for” and “what you offer” right - your mission, your vision, your values and the behaviours that you expect and practise. Perks will help with retention too, preventing them looking elsewhere. But this doesn’t have to be a guessing game. If you ensure regular catch-ups, ideally one-to-one, everyone can ensure that they are on the same page. That ideas are heard, mission and vision are shared and that your team’s professional ambitions are in line with your business’s ambitions. In this way everyone will work towards common, transparent and agreed on goals and objectives.

These are just a few pointers of course. We’ve helped businesses relocate to the South West, setting up shop from scratch here. We have helped Start-Ups through the process of making their first few hires and are constantly helping businesses to scale up and to build entire new in-house teams and functions - so we know that each business’s situation is very different and only a consultative approach can identify and define the best strategy for your specific situation and circumstances.

By Gabby Shaw, Principal Recruitment Consultant (Digital & Technology) at ADLIB.