Your team is working like a well-oiled machine to achieve all your goals. Your products and services are wildly popular. Revenue is rushing past what you expected, and suddenly, you need to expand your team to keep all the success going.

Sounds ideal, right? Well, yes and no. The increased demand is obviously good, but adding a flood of new people to a team can impact employee productivity in some not-so-great ways. Without proper planning, adding more people to your once-small team can be more disruptive than productive. With the below tips on how to scale a team, you can avoid this concern and keep the gears turning.

What is a scaling strategy?

A scaling strategy helps your organization continue bringing in more revenue with minimal changes in your expenses. Put more simply, it’s getting the most from the resources you already have at your disposal. That’s not to say you can’t bring in more employees or switch to different software – it just means you avoid doing it at a whim. Instead, just perfect what you already do, keep an eye on performance, and add what the team requires to keep going strong, whether that’s hiring more employees, incorporating new technology, or another strategic item to help your company grow.

Align your team

As your company grows, so do your meetings. Have one source of truth by using a collaborative meeting agenda that everyone can contribute to and reference back at any point.

12 tips on how to scale a team

While scaling may seem simple on paper, it’s very often easier said than done. For one, it requires keeping a constant eye on your company’s revenue and your team’s performance. Incorrectly-timed changes could accidentally sap your productivity and hamper your scaling. But do it all right, and you’ll smoothly transition to a spot where you can handle all the new demand. Here’s how to do it.

1 Use a “slow period” wisely

Every company will experience a downturn of some sort at some point, but less work doesn’t have to mean less productivity. Instead, try using any extra time to really look at your organization and find spots for improvement. You can use this time to improve your workflows so your team can do more with less when things pick back up. The result can be earning more revenue without increasing your expenses – the very definition of scaling. 

2 Give yourself time to ramp up 

After you’ve hired new people or otherwise restructured, you’re most likely not going to be as efficient right away. That doesn’t mean your team has suddenly lost all its skills and can’t be as productive as before! It’s just that everyone has to get used to the new setup. This adjustment period is especially important when you bring on a new team member. They’ll need to familiarize themselves with the normal rhythms of the job and build trust with their new coworkers. 

3 Change your expectations 

Your operations will probably change as you grow. Your target audience wants more of what you’ve got, so you need to restructure things so you can meet the demand. And with this increased demand comes a whole different set of expectations for your team.

You should discuss these expectations and prepare your team before the scaling process formally begins. Your team members know better than anyone how scaling will impact them and how much work they can handle before new hires become necessary. They can help you decide how many people to bring on during the hiring process. The more you can grow your revenue without paying additional salaries (and hiring is okay if you need to!), the more effectively you can scale.

4 Get ahead of the curve 

It’s often better to act rather than react as your organization grows. Increased demand can be great for your revenue at first, but it can hamper things if you don’t have enough resources to act on it. If you get stuck playing catch-up, your big moment could just pass you by – and you can’t seize a moment that’s already passed. 

To avoid this pitfall, keep a careful, consistent eye on your company’s performance. If you foresee a sudden windfall, hire people beforehand – if feasible – to ensure you have enough hands on deck to meet increased demand. 

5 Reduce your risk

Scaling is all about getting the most out of what you already have. One great idea on that front: Have your existing departments work toward one goal instead of separate objectives. Sure, they’ll all need some time to get used to the new setup. But they’ll need less time than a new hire who must adjust to the workload and company culture.

6 Find your pace 

Rapid growth doesn’t mean you have to adjust at a similarly rapid pace. While you can manage that fast a shift with proper planning, you also risk creating disarray that drastically decreases productivity. How can your team handle all that extra work? Who’s responsible for what? These questions are much easier to answer when you take your time growing instead of rushing into things headfirst.

7 Automate what you can

Automation takes certain tasks off your employees’ plates so they can focus on more critical work. Writing marketing emails, for example, is often time-consuming, but marketing automation can help save valuable hours without impacting their efficacy. Use software to automate certain processes, and you can do them faster while freeing your team for other work. It’s like hiring a new team member without hiring a new team member.

8 Hire wisely

Nothing slows down an efficient team quite like a bad hire. You’re looking not just for skilled people but team members who make for long-term culture fits. Bringing on the right people is so important, in fact, that many companies employ several screening methods, not just one, to narrow down their choices. Make sure anyone you hire checks all the boxes on your job description and brings a can-do attitude to your growth.

9 Hire doers 

If, for you, scaling means bringing on more team members, choose doers rather than people who wait to be told what to do. Self-starters and their motivation can spread through a workplace and drive your team to give 110%. And with your team producing more at the same cost as before, you’ll scale seamlessly.

10 Trust your employees

A great way to guide your team through rapid growth is to let them guide themselves. Your more experienced employees will often know their responsibilities in and out. Trusting their judgment while your offerings are in high demand can establish a loose management structure that helps keep your team on track.

11 Don’t forget company culture

Strong company culture can foster an open, collaborative environment among employees. When everyone is working toward the same goals with the same values, that unity makes productive team relationships much more realistic. The result is easier collaboration when teams need to work together to scale. Another result: new team members more instantly connected to their peers, yielding a more productive work environment. 

12 Paint a clear picture

As you scale, your team works toward a pretty big common goal: Doing more with roughly the same resources. But, your team might wonder, how exactly can you do that? Paint a clear picture of your path forward to answer this question, keep employees motivated, and point them in the right direction. One way to do that: Clarify your project milestones and celebrate when your team reaches them. That positive reinforcement can be great for keeping your team motivated during a crazy time.

What should you consider when scaling a team remotely?

Remote work is here to stay for many organizations, maybe including yours. It also introduces a whole new set of considerations when scaling your team. The main consideration is actually great news: Without office expenses to cover, scaling can be even easier. 

Other than that, scaling an online team is pretty similar to doing the same in-person. In both cases, your goal is to maximize productivity without raising costs. That means prioritizing virtual team communication, automating increasingly more processes, and redefining expectations. The latter is best done at virtual meetings, especially if you have the right meeting tools at hand.

Making the most of what you’ve got

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that more people means more results. But as you now know, sometimes making the best of the teams you already have is a better way to scale. A more collaborative environment should help, and you can get there with Fellow’s meetings tools. Fellow lets you easily create and send meeting agendas, assign meeting action items, and gather peer feedback. It’s the key to making any team run like a well-oiled machine.