How to Structure Your Team for Sustainable Growth

How to Structure Your Team for Sustainable Growth

Working with many high-growth companies, there have been a handful of common themes which have emerged this year. One challenge is that their current organisational structure isn’t keeping pace with their growth and vision.

When this happens, it can feel like your team is constantly overworked, bottlenecks are popping up everywhere, and achieving those strategic goals you have your sights on seem impossible.

To be clear, this article isn’t about downsizing or negative restructuring; these are all high-growth companies who are growing strongly in New Zealand and internationally. It’s about understanding that growth necessitates a strategic approach to building your team.

Growth Brings Change: Why Revisit Roles?

Over the last 20 years working with growth companies, I have seen businesses experience this challenge every 3 to 4 years. Revenue increases, products and services expand, and markets broaden. Naturally, your team structure needs to adapt as well. Here’s why:

  • New Roles Emerge: Evolving needs may require the creation of entirely new positions to address them.
  • Existing Roles Expand: Existing roles might require an expansion of responsibilities, skills, and accountability to keep up with your company’s direction.
  • Strategic Redeployment: Your key players might need to be strategically shifted to projects that drive short-term and mid-term growth.

This process often involves developing your people’s skills and capabilities internally. As the saying goes, “the right people, in the right seats, doing the right things.”

Strategy First, Structure Second

A strong company strategy is the foundation for an effective structure. Growth companies must refer to their company strategy when looking at possibilities for their company structure. If your company strategy isn’t clear, developing a mid-term (3-year) and long-term (10+ year) plan is the first step.

You should determine the roles and structure required by your organisation’s needs to achieve your business strategy.

Why? Your structure must enable you to achieve your strategy. Aligning roles (seats on the bus) to the company strategy ensures you will make the right hiring decisions, choosing people with the right fit, capabilities, and skills – at the right time – to drive continued revenue growth.

The key to achieving your company’s strategy lies in building the right team structure. This means filling roles with individuals who possess the capabilities and skills needed today, and also three years down the line.

Do Not Hire for The Now

Always look three years ahead when you fill the role. I cannot stress this strongly enough

Many companies fall into the trap of hiring solely based on immediate needs. This creates bottlenecks later, as their companies grow beyond the capabilities of their current staff. Hiring for the future ensures you have the right talent in place to maintain revenue growth and avoid costly disruptions.

Those who hire for the now, create people bottlenecks within the company, slowing revenue growth or halting it altogether.

When this happens across multiple roles, it leads to a real “people and culture mess.” Companies often attempt to fix this through additional hiring, adding cost without addressing the root cause – people have been put in a role for which they’re not a good fit.

The goal isn’t to fill empty seats immediately; it’s about strategically identifying roles you’ll need and the approximate timeframe for filling them. It’s fine to have empty seats at this point, as you’ll probably have identified some roles that you won’t fill for maybe another twelve to twenty-four months. When the time comes, you can fill the role with the right person, and at the optimal timing, to drive top line and bottom-line growth.

Key Company Roles

Many companies struggle to define their key roles. These roles are spread throughout the organisation, not limited to senior leadership. Understanding these critical roles is fundamental to building an effective people structure.

Ask yourself, “which roles are vital to the company being able to operate, operate efficiently and deliver the customer outcomes required?”

Failing to identify key roles creates a significant risk. When people in these positions leave or get promoted, talent gaps can cripple the organisation. Succession planning, an integral part of structuring your people strategy, ensures a smooth transition and minimises disruption.

Revenue VS. Volume

When structuring future roles, many companies solely focus on projected revenue growth. While revenue is important, it often provides an incomplete picture of the people needs. Instead, consider the volume associated with your future revenue target.

How many customer enquiries will need handling? How many invoices require processing? How many products need manufacturing? Translating future revenue into specific volume metrics for each role provides a more realistic picture of the skills and manpower required.

If you are a growth company approaching future role structure this way, it will save you a lot of pain, time, and money, and enable you to achieve your mid-term strategy. It will open up opportunities on smart ways to have the company structure structured, along with where technology can also be applied to support your people, efficiencies and customers.

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  • About the Author, Leigh Paulden

    Leigh Paulden


    Leigh Paulden is an author and internationally certified business growth consultant with over 30 years of experience across 30+ different industries. Offering business management consulting and business advisory services, Leigh works with mid-market business leaders looking to grow. He creates the clarity and certainty needed to make great decisions and achieve scalable and sustainable success.

    Find out more about Leigh or contact him to discuss taking your business growth to the next level.