This stage of organisation transition is typically characterised by formalisation of the organisation’s structure (including team structures and more formalised job roles) and introduction of processes. In addition, with people and performance issues becoming salient, the fundamental HR policies and processes are introduced.
However, HR tends to be transactional in nature at this point and reactive to immediate issues, such as the need to recruit quickly, or to ensure a consistent people management approach across the business.
The introduction of formality at this stage also tends to include a more consistent approach to training for operational staff. However, as the organisation is still emerging, flexibility remains important and needs to be considered when introducing people management policies and processes.
One of the first tasks Atlas’s first HR executive undertook was to design a robust recruitment and selection approach.
Pang Shu Xin, Executive Director, Mothercare Singapore
“Now that responsibility for hiring was devolved to department managers, some guidelines were needed to ensure a consistent hiring approach across the business.”
Mothercare Singapore made training for front-line staff its first priority.
‘The internal training manager has developed a curriculum for basic-level training which includes an orientation programme for new hires and also selling skills for frontline staff about how to engage customers.’
There is a tipping point when a short-term, reactive HR approach (for example to recruitment and capability-building) is no longer sufficient and, as the business is thinking more strategically, so HR needs to follow suit. As the workforce typically grows, there is a need to evolve the organisation structure which often involves adding more management layers. This can create distance between owner/leader and employees leading to a disconnect with their vision and values. Having clear job roles and effective communication that formally states and reinforces the vision and values is required, enabling employees to interpret both ‘what do I need to do and how do I need to do it?’
Typically, as the owner/leader ‘let’s go of the reins’ and relies on managers to execute the organisation’s vision, there is the temptation to be more prescriptive about how work is done. However, with too much formalisation, the organisation may become process-heavy, stunting innovation and organisational agility. If the organisation’s values are strongly embedded, less prescription is needed.
As the workforce size increases, HR needs to maintain its closeness to the business – something that tends to be easier in a smaller entity. HR having a deep understanding of the changing nature of the business and maintaining close relationships with stakeholders will enable them to anticipate what the business needs.
Sherwin Siregar, Deputy CEO, Atlas Sound and Vision Singapore
“When the company was smaller it was easy to get the feel of the values because you saw the founders, who were basically the living values, on the shop floor every day; you got it by “osmosis”. But as we grew we realised we needed to articulate a succinct vision for our organisation and crystallise our values. We did a lot of communicating externally but we needed to do internal branding.”