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How Do You Manage Team Productivity in a Growing SME?

Managing fast growth and keeping productivity consistent is a difficult feat, but there are ways of making company operations easier. Below Nakul Sharma, CEO and founder of Hostmaker, delves into some of the situations and challenges he has experienced, offering some solutions to the obstacles most business would confront in the face of fast paced growth.

The most exciting thing about starting company is the possibility of it growing. In the early days, management is a fairly simple case of being able to organise a small number of people, often in the same room, who are all motivated and passionate about the work they are doing. The difficulty often comes when the company expands, but you want to keep that same motivation and closeness between employees as you had at the start.

Rapid growth is something we have had to deal with a lot at Hostmaker with the added challenge of that expansion being across borders. From 2014 to now we have expanded from two people, myself and my wife, to now being over 200 of us working across five European cities. Keeping a company of this size and across so many locations productive has presented a number of challenges, from maintaining communication in different time zones to making sure everyone is working towards the same goal.

The most important thing in any company is communication. Making sure that everyone knows what the other is doing and avoiding misunderstandings. At Hostmaker, we use a wide range of tools to stay well connected. We use traditional newsletters to make sure each office is aware of the company news and what is happening in each of the other cities’ offices. We also use VoIP services such as Google Hangouts which have helped make team briefings far easier and more efficient whilst also being free to use, which helps if you are a start up with limited funds. This combined with instant messaging services like WhatsApp and Skype means that we are able to communicate quickly to make decisions without the issue of missed emails.

If it is possible, creating custom tools for your business can be hugely beneficial as it will fit the needs of your employees. Relying on Google drives, Hangouts or Whatsapp works for smaller teams but if you are trying to organise 100 people it can get tricky. Our tech team created a custom CRM platform, which is essential for managing and scheduling our employees across Europe.

We have a lot of housekeepers working in our cities and the CRM platform is a key way of providing an efficient service for our clients, both guests and landlords. We are now able to create schedules in minutes which also factor in routes and check-in times.

What we have always prided ourselves on at Hostmaker is a sense of community in our offices. This can be a bit of an issue as it is easy to form a relationship with people you see every day, but it is harder to do with someone you see once a month or less. At Hostmaker we have set up live streams in each office so that everyone gets the feeling of one big international office. As well as being fun, it is also a great way of reminding everyone that we are working together.

Being able to offer a flexible working policy is also key to helping your company grow, especially if you are an international company. Being able to attract the right skills means employers need to be open to people working in different countries whilst in the same team.

At Hostmaker, our tech team are based across Europe which presented the problem of managing work flow, especially in project work. By ensuring that regular meetings happened over Skype and to also have physical meetings once every three months in different cities helped to create a better bond between team members.

We have also created internal programmes for all staff, which ensures that every office is getting equal chances of development. Our global ‘Future Fliers’ programme focuses on developing and training the staff within the company. With our growth plans for 2018, we will witness our current leaders within the company face new challenges, and therefore need to consider how the next generation can step up to the plate and support. This hand-picked group of supervisors meet up every four months to train together and share techniques which each office is using.

Managing a company’s fast growth and keeping your finger on the pulse of an ever-changing beast presents its own problems but there are a vast number of tools out there to help and streamline communication to make it easier than ever to run and manage a global SME. Asking team members to contribute ideas to how we can better run and communicate internally also helps to ultimately shape the company that we want to work in. These range from social meetings to development programmes that have been introduced on the back of suggestions from staff which has led to greater unity and team collaboration.

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