If your company is growing, you likely have a growing team too. With rapid growth come growing pains. These are very common and remarkably similar across organizations in almost any country or industry sector.
Main challenges of managing a growing team
These challenges will require your careful attention.
Firstly, communication becomes increasingly complex as the team expands. As a manager, you should ensure that information flows effectively among team members, preventing misunderstandings and promoting collaboration.
Secondly, think of scalability. Existing processes and systems must be reevaluated and adjusted to accommodate the growing number of team members, tasks, and workflows. As a manager, you must ensure the team’s infrastructure can sustain growth and support the increased workload.
Lastly, you might face a challenge maintaining team cohesion and engagement as the team expands. However, there are many key reasons why employee engagement is important, and they shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re undergoing rapid growth. Fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose is an essential task for you to prevent silos and promote a positive work environment. Conflicts require proactive resolution and open communication to maintain a harmonious and productive team dynamic.
Amid these challenges, as a manager, it is crucial to be prepared to address the following questions:
- How will I personally manage and support the team’s growth?
- How will I ensure team cohesion and engagement?
- How will I address conflicts or challenges within the group?
To help you out, we have gathered the top 10 practical tips on how to deal with a growing team in the best way possible. When your team grows, your management tactics must adapt and change. Here is how you can do it successfully.
Looking for more information on team management? Check out the Team performance resources.
Tip #1: Focus on culture
When managing a growing team, many of us instinctively start by looking at processes and systems. However, a growing team creates change, and change impacts people on a personal and emotional level. As a result, we should actually start by checking in on our organizational culture.
A team’s culture is made up of the underlying assumptions, values, and beliefs shared by the team members. A successful and inclusive culture helps to increase retention and productivity. A confused or antagonistic culture often leads to high staff turnover and reduced productivity.
Introduce new employees to your corporate culture during onboarding to make sure they feel supported in their early days. You can also emphasize core company values to your existing team and make sure they’re on the same page. And don’t forget to welcome them in style.
Tip #2: Focus on team building
Leading on from your company culture, you need to focus on building team spirit and camaraderie, as this also leads to increased motivation and teamwork. When bringing onboard several new team members at once, use icebreakers and team games to encourage getting to know each other in less formal circumstances.
Reserve five minutes at the start of team meetings or 1:1 check-ins for icebreaker questions, or schedule a separate session for longer team-building games.
Tip #3: Empower team members to take more responsibility
There are several ways to do this. Encourage a culture of appreciation among your employees. For example, you can set aside a few minutes at the start of weekly team meetings for team members to show each other gratitude. Or you could dedicate a day of the week for employees to celebrate their personal wins.
At the same time, during weekly team meetings, you could choose to nominate a different team member each week to lead the meeting. You can appoint team members to be troubleshooters, looking after other team members. You can also encourage your team to run meetings without you and report the key takeaways back.
You can also do this by delegating key roles and responsibilities to other team members according to their strengths or to help them develop their skill sets. This helps to build trust, encourages teamwork, and empowers your team to grow in their roles by taking on more responsibility.
Tip #4: Prepare your team for change
Growth is a particular kind of change, and change can be difficult and painful. Existing team members may feel threatened, that perhaps a new team member might take away some of the work they like to do, or they may worry about having to adopt new practices to accommodate new team members.
It is best to have some meetings ahead of bringing on new members or making any changes, to encourage feedback and the airing of fears. Then you can encourage your team to brainstorm solutions to those potential issues ahead of time. Crowdsourcing solutions in this way help to get buy-in because your team members feel more responsible for making the ideas they suggest a success.
Tip #5: Set up a mentoring system
When new people join your team, it makes sense to pair them with more experienced team members who will act as their mentors. This helps spread the burden of onboarding more evenly and creates a bond between older and newer team members more quickly.
It also helps new team members learn about your culture, processes, and challenges. It’s a low-pressure way for new team members to learn and take on more work. Plus, they get a peer to talk to about any issues or questions they may not want to raise with managers.
Tip #6: Clearly define roles and responsibilities
A growing team naturally causes responsibilities to change and expand. It is fairly easy to keep track of responsibilities on smaller teams, but when your team numbers increase rapidly, it becomes much tougher to do.
You need to ensure your roles and responsibilities are clear and well communicated so that everyone understands, from senior managers down to new starters. When team members understand their responsibilities, they have more confidence in their day-to-day tasks and are usually able to be more productive. More established team members will also find it easier to help support new team members when they are feeling clearer about their own personal roles and responsibilities.
Tip #7: Create a hierarchy and communicate it clearly
Similar to tip number 6, above, you also need to create a clear hierarchy because this will make clear who is ultimately responsible for making final decisions, which again helps to clarify roles and responsibilities.
Your hierarchy should outline who employees report to and who should make final decisions. It provides clear career advancement paths for employees who want to become people managers. It also lightens your burden as the manager of a growing team.
This is particularly important for larger teams which may benefit from being broken down into smaller sub-teams with their own managers or sub-team leaders. It also makes sense to get feedback and input from established team members on what hierarchy is most likely to work best. This helps come up with more ideas and get buy in from your more experienced employees.
Tip #8: Recognize success
Recognition is essential for ensuring that team members feel appreciated and respected. However, not everyone likes to be recognized in the same ways, and it’s important to take this into account. As you build your team, ask members how they prefer to be recognized.
Some might prefer public appreciation in front of their teammates during weekly or daily meetings, Others might welcome one-on-one feedback in private. Some might want to receive time off or flexibility in recognition of achievement, while others might enjoy a celebratory team lunch or a physical gift of some sort – maybe even a money-off voucher for their favorite retailer.
Tip #9: Create and document scalable processes where possible
As your team grows, automating can be your friend when it comes to streamlining time-consuming manual processes. For example, using a project management tool such as Teamwork will let you automate common repeatable tasks, send automatic status updates on projects or automatically organize project documentation:
Tip #10: Use the right team management tools for your organization
Project management or team management software can be the single biggest time saver for growing teams. Getting everyone used to use the same software tools can be great for increasing motivation, streamlining the onboarding of new team members, and keeping track of key projects or milestones.
According to the PMI, only 32% of executive leaders believe that investing in the right technologies is the biggest factor in future success. However, this study by Capterra shows that the benefits of using project or team management software tools include:
- “Improved timeline estimation”
- “More effective use of project resources”
- “Enhanced team communication”
However, it’s important for teams to use the right kind of project management software for them and their organization. That’s why we’ve compared the 18 best task management tools and the 11 best project management software for small teams.
Get started with Teamwork team management software today
The range of digital project management tools is extensive, and we well as project management and task management tools listed in the links above, most organizations will also benefit from some combination of the following:
- Project planning tools, such as Gantt charts
- Time tracking tools
- Resource management tools
- Agile project management too, such as Kanban – check out our Ultimate Kanban Guide
Now that you understand more about how to mitigate the potential negatives and growing pains of a rapidly expanding team, why not see how Teamwork’s range of project management tools could help you get the most out of your new team members and lay the foundations for sustainable, profitable growth.
Passionate content marketer looking to bring better solutions to the project management space.
2020 - Present Marketing specialist at Teamhood.
2014 - 2020 Marketing manager for Eylean.