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What does it take to grow your company team from 10 to 20+ people? 4 aspects that you want to be aware of!

In 2022, our team passed the “magic” barrier of 20 people. For most companies, the first substantial HR-challenges arise when the team size reaches 15-25 people. Suddenly, the ways of working that you developed in the early days of the company do not work anymore, and tailored solutions are needed to manage the team and to keep everyone happy.  

Today, Jolanda Schalkwijk (HR manager at FFUND) shares some insights and practical tips to prepare the HR-processes and manage the team dynamics when growing your company: 

1. Allocate time and capacity for HR

The practical aspects of the HR management become an actual part of your company operations.  

In the early days, the HR aspects are usually a small side-job for the management, but when the team grows the required actions expand significantly. Here are some key actions that you need to be aware of when growing and maintaining a team of 20+ people: 

  • The recruitment process takes more time, as you are looking for new hires and you need to be prepared to replace employees that potentially leave your company. Also, the selection of people that have the right profile to expand the team becomes more critical to keep everything well balanced. As a result, you need to become more visible for potential candidates, and decide to work with a recruiter or allocate significant time to the recruitment activities to identify and select new team members. 
  • The number of contracts with employees is expanding significantly, not only the ones you prepare for new employees, also managing the updates and prolongation of existing contracts becomes a significant task. Especially since updates of contracts also need to be updated in your company administration, such as the insurance policies, pension arrangements and payrolling administration.  
  • An increasing number of new HR components become part of your company when expanding the team with more diverse roles. With more people and a growing company, you will bump into increasing numbers of new situations regarding requirements for new functions in the company, requests from personnel, and updates in employment law. All can be solved, but make sure you allocate time and decision power for these events. Aspects to be aware of are e.g., rules and regulations for parental leave, training and education for personnel, insurances to work from different countries and locations, lease cars, installing and updating online portals. In fact, the number of external contractors will increase, and so does the HR workload to select and manage the parties you hire. 

2. Set-up a system to ensure that each person is connected and gets personal attention

With a growing team, you can’t avoid the fact that you are increasing the complexity of the communication lines. You cannot assume that everyone will just understand what the company is doing and keeping everyone connected becomes an actual task. Three essential things that work are: 

  • Share information multiple times in multiple formats, and repeat! It will feel like a huge amount of over-communication, but you will quickly realize that information will simply not stick as easily anymore with the team as before. In the first years we shared information (including HR-aspects and company updates) in a weekly company meeting, but now we share the same info in newsletters, team meetings, individual communication, and make it findable in an online environment for the team. And still you cannot assume that everyone is aware of everything you shared, so be prepared to repeat the important messages repeatedly. 
  • Formalize the basic company rules and regulations for everyone and develop a personnel handbook where all info that applies to the people in the company can be found. Transparency and clarity about the performance indicators, renumeration, benefits, supportive system, as well as all rules and regulations for personnel are becoming increasingly important for your team members to get the clarity and control that they need. 
  • Make sure everyone has one-on-ones regularly. Never under-estimate the value of a listening ear, in the end we are all just humans. Develop positions in the company that become responsible for this and are trained to do it well. You cannot check-in with everyone that frequently anymore, while 1-on-1 time is a proven method to keep people connected, feeling valued, and provide opportunity to be involved in the company’s bigger picture. In addition, the reporting by the managers will become an essential tool for you to know what is going on and what is needed by the team. Make sure that next to practical talks about work, everyone in the company has someone that talks about their goals, wishes, and provides emotional support.  

3. Career-development plans becomes essential

In small teams and young companies, everyone is excited to be part of the new opportunity and potential of the company. When you grow the company and the team, the requirements to keep the people in the company happy, educated, and connected, changes. Be aware that all knowledge sharing will just be a lot harder when you are a bigger team. As a result, a critical aspect is the fact the people will need clear development paths to be empowered to grow and develop themselves. This means that you need to put in place new roles for existing personnel for continuous growth. Trust your people to take a next step as soon as they demonstrate the right trades. People will fly when you give the opportunity, and you need to ensure they get a chance to show and grow.  

This can be a real challenge, especially when the future of the company is not fully crystallized yet, but it will pay-off when you find solutions that allow your people to use their full potential and to have something to work towards as their next step. When it is not obvious what the path should be, just open the conversation with your team and identify the right opportunities for them and the company together. It will be inspirational for each person that grows, and you will excel as a team. 

4 Quick wins to consider

  1. Develop career-development paths and keep track in 1-on-1 quarterly meetings for individual growth and potential. 
  1. Provide an on-boarding program for new employees. 
  1. Select tools to manage, trace and find data for everyone: Online portals can make a big difference to empower people to be in control of their development and provide you the overviews of the company. 
  1. Knowledge sharing is harder, make sure to formalize the training of critical capabilities and company knowledge – who should be present where, when, and why? 

4. Nurture your company culture! 

When the foundation is strong, the rest of the company will follow. 

  • When you want people to enjoy and have fun, ensure to facilitate, and encourage to do so at the office (or in online interactions) and beyond. 
  • Celebrating small wins and positive behavior, not only company wide, but also with teams and between individuals. 
  • Develop rituals – E.g. Company Xmas parties, quarterly content training events, annual BBQ’s, etc. 
  • Develop values and train and talk about how you act in the outside world and interact with clients and relations. 

Each company growth phase will bring unique challenges 

Crossing the barrier of 20 people is just the first of many moments in which your company processes need to be changed and optimized. When you recognize and embrace the fact that this is part of the activities of your growing business, you will be able to prevent a lot of the challenges down the road while creating great team dynamics that are empowering and fun to be part of. Enjoy the ride! 

About the author
Picture of Jolanda Schalkwijk

Jolanda Schalkwijk