No senior decision-maker needs to be told that young, active companies tend to experience growing pains along the way.
And workplace experts have identified a number of key pressure points that are most likely to cause trouble.
* An inability to communicate effectively. An inability to manage change, build effective teams, develop and implement workable organizational models or to encourage the development of leadership skills within the ranks;
* An inability to conceive and implement cost'-effective human resources (HR) policies and programs that allow rising companies to draw the most from their most important resource - their people;
* An indifferent or sloppy approach to staff training and professional recruiting.
When these red flags begin to wave, it's time for progressive operators of small to medium-sized businesses to seek the advice of McNeil Group of Calgary, one of Western Canada's premier human-resources and management consultants.
Those that do frequently report a startling and permanent turnaround. Consider the case of a fledgling oil and gas service company, which observed that its personnel problems seemed to multiply as additional staff was added.
"In many ways, it was a classic case," explains company president Deborah McNeil.
"They were bewildered by a high rate of staff turnover. And they weren't happy with certain employees who seemed to be consistently unproductive."
Though the company's ownership group had a made an encouraging start in terms of sales, the executive team had ceased to communicate effectively. Members of the senior team couldn't agree on policies or procedures. Principles were put in place, then either ignored or abandoned.
It didn't take long for such issues to register a negative impact on the corporation's bottom line. At that point, to the credit of executive team members, they acknowledged these difficulties. And they placed a call for help to McNeil Group.
McNeil and her well-drilled team - including her husband, sales chief Ross McNeil - went straight to work. "We started by getting the company's management group into the same room," Deborah recalls.
"We asked them to define their organization, to define their corporate culture. To that point, they had been spending all their time focusing on clients and the market. But they hadn't spent enough time determining where they wanted to go, as an organization."
While brainstorming with the McNeil Group team, the oil and gas executives came to the realization that, as focused and self-starting entrepreneurs, they hadn't spent enough time providing direction to employees whose talents lay in other spheres.
Without firm leadership, potentially valuable people had become dispirited and had decided to move on. Nor had the team been providing much-needed direction to new staffers as they came aboard.
"From that point on, the company was able to put together a new team with everyone on the same page," McNeil concludes the illustration. At McNeil's recommendation, the client company also hired a chief operating officer to serve as exemplar - someone to set up an operational structure, while serving as coach, trainer and mentor to the staff.
This kind of elevating success story is often shared in the Calgary offices of McNeil Group, located in Suite 304 1111 11th Avenue S.W. (The company will open an Edmonton office in June.)
Whether client companies ask McNeil Group to assume responsibility for all their HR needs, or whether they seek assistance on a one-time basis, Deborah McNeil and her skilled team deliver tangible and lasting results.
As McNeil freely acknowledges, most of her corporate customers understand the value of specialized training and professional recruiting programs, both particular specialties of McNeil Group.
But many aren't up to speed on how beneficial it can be to put innovative HR policies in place.
"Leaders of young businesses don't often recognize how frequently low staff morale, or a high rate of absenteeism, can be symptoms of deeper issues," McNeil says.
"That's where a competent HR consultant can bring about tangible and positive change."
Because as companies grow, the dynamics of the workplace alter. Without consistent processes, staff direction and employee support, productivity can suffer.
McNeil Group advises on such nuts-and-bolts issues as salaries, vacations, employee development, organizational development, and hiring policies.
"On a higher level, we've been able to help companies really streamline their operations, while making sure they have the right key people in place," adds McNeil. "Much of our work is in support of the leadership group."
By the same token, employees crave consistency, standardization and equitable treatment. The all-inclusive corrective approach of McNeil Group leaves no stone unturned.
As Deborah McNeil is fond of saying, the greatest companies are those the best people want to work for.
For more information, contact McNeil Group at 403.217.1707 or toll free 1-877-770-4647, or e-mail email@example.com.
And visit their website: www.mcneilgroup.ca.