Cultivating Culture and Purpose
Talent is perhaps the most significant factor for hypergrowth companies. Talent requirements in firms experiencing hypergrowth vary widely from the start-up through scaling phases where they develop markets and increase their footprint. In later growth phases, the talent needs may change once again.
Talent challenges are the by-product of extreme growth. The core process to attract, develop, retain and circulate the right talent is a necessity. Beyond this, however, hypergrowth firms must place emphasis on agile talent with the capability to solve complex issues and to adjust to changing internal and external factors.
Competition over talent in high-growth domains is fierce and research indicates that purpose-driven culture is linked to attracting talent for many of these companies. In addition, emerging market hypergrowth companies often emphasize the importance of metaskills and intercultural skills because highly versatile talent may be in short supply. A cross-section of these companies shows that many teams are balanced for gender, culture, skills and experience and reflect multidisciplinary backgrounds. For the leadership, talent requirements are linked to cultivating and preserving company culture. Preservation of the hypergrowth enabling culture is a key for the younger growth companies. On the other hand, more established companies are highlighting the importance of change enabling culture in a transformative phase.
Faced with quickly changing environments, a variety of backgrounds and skills plays an important role in problem-solving, managing multiple stakeholders and markets, and adapting to new challenges. Talent profiles are needed to support the phase or purpose of the company. Without adaptable talent, or when very specialized talent is required, management must enable entry/exit processes to maintain the talent fit.
Talent, solution examples
Key Growth challenge
7.1 Transforming the culture
Changing the pattern and culture of modest growth and success
Transform the culture and make the team believe that hypergrowth is desirable through small steps and repeated communications
IT Services, Asia, CEO
“We had everything in place: great people, talent and technology. The firm has a long history. When I took over, I noticed that the team was not thinking ‘hypergrowth’. Everyone was satisfied with reasonable growth. I believe that fast growth success is a matter of work and is possible in any firm. In order to change the culture, one needs to address the general mindset and get the best out of the talent. It requires communication, communication, communication, and repeating the key messages over and over again. And building trust by taking advantage of consistent progress and looking forward to future success. Transformative change is always chaotic. It is the intent. Communication helps people to keep focus on the key items. We sped the firm up to hypergrowth. We did it together. My role as a CEO was to make my team believe that was achievable and support the team in doing it.”
7.2 Scaling by maintaining the culture
Maintaining the “founder’s” culture in a hypergrowth phase
Limit headcount growth for cultural continuity and ensure transmission of organizational behaviour
Silicon Valley Unicorn, Founder
“Sometimes the business scales faster than one might expect. Also, that brings the company huge demands of workforce and talent. Many opt for scaling the headcount fast. Our solution has been very conservative for two reasons. First, as resources are tight, we need to come up with innovative ideas to solve issues simpler and better. Second, we implemented a rule that would allow us to only double our headcount in a year. As we want to maintain our culture, it is very important to have control over headcount growth. We use simple KPIs to get data-driven perspective on our talent needs and keep the headcount in relation to our business performance. And to make sure we recruit the right talent for our culture, I am still heavily involved in the final recruitment steps even if we are already quite big in numbers.”
7.3 Attracting talent from Blue Oceans
Attracting and hiring talent
Diverse talent acquisition strategy, find talent outside company’s own domain, from various backgrounds.
Luxury & Lifestyle Manufacturer, Asia, CEO
“People and talent are always hard to find. It is difficult to attract talent to an industry which is not as strong in the CV like big brand names. We work with brands behind the scenes and also find competition on the business side from ‘traditional suspects’ in consumer industries and professional services. Our solution has been to look for talent totally outside of the industry to get fresh ideas. Recruitment from, for example, the automotive industry has transformed our production with lean principles. We continue to use this approach to keep us on the growth track.”
7.4 Digital era – talent for curating information
Technology and big data changing the talent requirements for creating customer value
Hire curators of information and data with in-depth understanding of the application areas
Multi-Industry, Africa, Executive Chairman
“Many, even experienced CEOs, overemphasize the role of data in their businesses. Even if we have more data, tools and technology, we tend to understand less of human behaviour. Execution excellence has become the most important thing and when actually measured there is a great paradox: data and technology vs productivity: productivity has not improved overall. Our conclusion was that practical understanding of the application areas of technologies is often missing. Our key solution is to hire talent to curate information and data. Data is only data. We realize the importance of data, but data needs to be converted into knowledge and with knowledge we are getting wiser. This means on each step of the key processes we still need talented human capacity to curate the information from one ladder to another. And this requires in-depth understanding of the application areas.”