Every business that wants to grow and expand needs to be constantly looking at whether it has the people and skills to undertake additional work. Being limited by the size of the team can lead to panicky and costly decisions.

Yet choosing staff to work in the business is one of the hardest things to get right. Getting it wrong will mean a considerable set back for the progress of the organisation and will result in both lost momentum and extra financial cost. It also has a long lasting significance as it reduces the confidence of those involved with making future similar decisions.

The businesses with whom I have worked often resist having to take these tough decisions until the very last moment or are seduced by the look of a stunning candidate that happens to cross their path. Neither approach makes good long term sense.

Selecting staff, especially senior members of staff, needs to be made very carefully. And whilst it would be simple to say that it can be approached in a scientific fashion with a combination of tests and interviews, my view is that whilst technical competence is important, so too is a more organisational consideration. By which I mean considering how bringing a new person into the fold will enable greater cohesion and creativity to flourish across the business.

It is often very simple for companies to choose people who look just like the current incumbents. The end result though is that a dreadful polarisation of thought will result from this type of approach. The consequence is that as the composition of the team becomes more and more similar in perspective, it be less capable of making directional changes just when they are needed.

We live in enlightened times when people from all sorts of backgrounds are finding their way into our business lives. Companies that are unable to attract people with a range of experiences will quickly become dinosaurs in a rapidly changing world.

I recently read an article from Margaret Heffernan’s latest book “Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes” in which she states that it is not enough to employ people from diverse backgrounds and skill sets. A necessary condition for building a diverse team is to create the conditions and opportunities for everyone to feel involved in the business so respect can be built up. I would obviously encourage you to find out more by reading this article called Smalls Steps to Big Change.

Anyone who owns or runs a business, irrespective of its size, needs to reflect on how inclusive they are willing to be and how much change they are prepared to experience. As we all know change makes us feel uncomfortable and insecure.

Simon Bruce

Author Simon Bruce

Simon qualified as a Chartered accountant with BDO London in 1982 and then began a career taking in banking, manufacturing and international trading working in UK, Europe and Australia. He has worked with publicly quoted companies, family companies and start-ups.

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