Managing start-up transition Part B

Caroline Mboijana, Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U). 

Dear Caroline,  I recently joined a start-up company in manufacturing. The business has been operating in a project-phased approach over the last one and a half years and as we close the second year, the wish is to move away from the project setup into the entire operation. The expected transition is likely to take almost six months. As I joined, I noticed that the business has been working with casual labourers and some staff have had annual contracts. I have been tasked to think through how we must manage the transition without disrupting the business. The numbers are significant, and I am not sure where to start with this process.  Steven
Hello, Steven; let us look at the second aspect of your transition process. As we closed last week, we now have a better picture of the structure, a good understanding of what is required in each role, and the roles with the respective job descriptions. We can now manage which roles need to be transitioned. As mentioned last week, we are likely to have job applicants who started out as casual workers and have acquired skills on the job over the years. To ensure they are ‘qualified’, we need to start engaging academic institutions that can help us validate the skills acquired through on-the-job training. These validation processes will serve two critical aspects: help the organisation recognise those “casual workers: who have skills and abilities that will result in the job holder staying with the organisation and therefore retaining institutional knowledge, but more importantly, it will impact the job holder’s motivation and engagement.

This is a sensitive process and must be handled carefully. How you manage the communication will be essential. It is vital that as you start the process, you make it clear that this process is about developing the staff members and not about making them redundant. The final assessment report will speak to their strengths and developmental areas. In addition, there must be a plan to address their gaps. In addressing them, the organisation should be ready to financially support them if the job holder has to go back to school or invest in their development through in-house learning and development interventions. This approach must also be managed over time to give job holders adequate time to develop. 

HR and the respective departments will also be setting the department’s minimum standards. This means that moving forward, the quality of talent required has been developed and that all future recruitments will be maintained at the same level. In the same process, the HR department will also be able to set the standards for rewards and remuneration. As you well know, the issue of reward is sensitive. Through this process, because all staff have the same basic skills and competencies, they will also start at the same level of reward, ensuring that staff now focus on what they need to do and not be distracted by salary and benefits. You will now find it relatively easy to set performance targets. Good luck

Caroline Mboijana,
Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U)  [email protected]