You Won’t Grow Until You Follow These 4 Keys to Success

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Hiring talent with entrepreneurial minds helps foster the same culture of innovation that brings a company from idea to fruition. As an HR leader who seeks to employ true self-starters — those who take the initiative and are eager to see the impact of what they’re building — I have witnessed these traits contribute to the successful scaling of their companies.

Candidates identify with this work culture. Let’s face it: nobody wants to feel like a small fish in a big pond where nothing they say or do matters. Part of the allure of working for a company still in its growing stages is that you can truly impact shaping its trajectory. This environment encourages opportunity beyond a job description – for both the employee and the company, allowing the entrepreneurial spirit to spread throughout the organization.

New and growing organizations must understand that scaling in size requires a different skill set than the early stages of founding a company from the ground up. There are four keys to success when taking a company to the next level.

Related: 3 Strategies to Optimize Your Hiring Process and Find the Best Employees

1. Let go of control

Filling positions at the next vertical level often requires external hires. How do we blend the historical knowledge inside the company with the experience we are bringing in from the outside? The answer lies in partnerships that leverage the entrepreneurial mindset people bring to the job — the initiative to challenge orthodoxies, test, and experiment. Then, give them room to succeed. Not understanding a new methodology at first isn’t wrong.

My advice to new leaders is to hire up. We want individuals who are smarter than us so they can tell us how to improve functionalities like finances and sales. Tap into the expertise they developed elsewhere. Instilling entrepreneurial thinking in our employees allows every role to add more value than we could have predicted.

2. Get SMART about strategy

Entrepreneurs need a strategic plan to be successful, but I have seen a lot of businesses that don’t really know what they want. Success can come quickly, but so can failure. As an entrepreneur growing your company and hiring for new positions, your job is to set the “North Star” — the clear expectation of where you want to go and how to hire the right people to get there. That involves planning goals for the next five years and giving the people you hired the freedom to establish the goals for each of their departments with that North Star in mind.

One way to set a strategic hiring plan is to use the SMART technique: Is it specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-oriented? If a company hired 100 people last year and wanted to hire 200 to account for expansion this year, this objective would tick many of those boxes. Leaders in hiring positions must work backward from their business objectives to ensure they are onboarding the right people who can help the company achieve and execute that strategic plan.

Related: SMART Goals May Be Holding You Back — Try This Effective Goal-Setting Technique Instead

3. Listen more

Beyond just the HR team, managers and other leaders need to agree to honestly hear employees’ ideas and concerns. Turning a vision into reality is arduous, involving honest conversations with stakeholders and learning to look through different lenses. Those of us in leadership positions need to ask ourselves: Do I always shoot down people’s ideas? Can I take constructive criticism?

If not, many training programs are available to develop active listening skills. Additionally, entrepreneurs need to collaborate with other entrepreneurs. So, find resource groups where entrepreneurs can share what worked for them or when they had to pivot. Finally, make yourself as accessible as possible. Personally, I really enjoy it when people come into my office and leave laughing because I know they feel safe enough to speak their minds.

4. Blend creativity with data

In the era of AI, creativity alone isn’t enough. Leveraging data to show why your hiring and employee initiatives are both strategic and financially responsible is critical to the success of your scaling efforts. At the same time, it’s easy to get so stuck in the data that it makes you risk-averse, so use data to strengthen and validate your creative ideas, not stifle them.

Data is as much about identifying where you might need to pivot as it is breaking down why a creative attempt might go wrong. Analyzing data like employee churn, tenure, productivity, etc. Ensuring your hiring practices are optimal for fostering the right company culture needed to scale and thrive is crucial. Where the numbers could be improved, use this as a lesson or guidance for the future. If your employee turnover is not where you want it to be, figure out why, take the steps needed to correct it, and move forward. Do not use words like “failure.” Ultimately, the art of analytics is blending creativity with decision-making in partnership with those who will be the heart of your success.

Related: ‘The Employment Situation’ Report for April Shows Employers Are Taking Hiring Down a Notch, Employee Wage Growth Slowing

To grow, hire freethinkers

I have seen the difference between scaling companies that manage the challenges of growth and those that waste the opportunity in their willingness to truly listen to their employees and embrace change. Leaders have to get comfortable with teams being part of their growth. Steve Jobs came up with the idea for the iPhone, but he was only as awesome as the people behind him.

Perhaps now more than ever, an increasing number of workers are seeking an environment where they truly feel a sense of personal value. Don’t be scared of the unknown; stay open to the craziest of ideas. This shift in mindset is essential for fostering innovation, driving growth, and staying ahead of the curve. With this in mind, hiring the right people will keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive throughout the growing organization.

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