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Scaling for Success

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Scaling for Success

People Priorities for High-Growth Organizations

Columbia Business School Publishing,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Help your start-up tackle talent management and HR through each stage of its development.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples
  • For Beginners


Are you a start-up just getting off the ground or experiencing rapid growth? Are you looking for step-by-step guidance to help you develop your talent management and HR capacities? Consultants and teachers Andrew Bartlow and T. Brad Harris explain how fast-expanding start-ups can benefit from establishing basic, structured approaches to talent management and HR. In this applicable guide, they describe the essentials of recruiting, compensation, learning, legal compliance and performance management for each stage of your organization’s development.


Start-up founders must increase structure to scale soundly.

A small, committed group can accomplish a great deal without many rules, structures or repeatable processes. Business success, however, invites fast or even hyper-growth. High-growth start-ups invariably hit milestones at around 20, 100, and then, 400 employees. These key turning points can stall an organization in its tracks if leaders don’t adopt new approaches as the transitions occur – making necessary structural changes to allow their companies to scale soundly.

Even at 20 workers, founders can no longer manage all people-related matters.

Alongside operational, sales, marketing, and financial structures, growing businesses require solid people practices – including recruiting, onboarding, learning, compensation and performance management. Without workforce planning and the development of people processes early on, the critical talent acquisition and management components of a fast-growing start-up will slide into chaos. Hiring will occur haphazardly or inconsistently and without quality standards or clear requirements...

About the Authors

Andrew Bartlow runs Series B Consulting, which offers talent management advice to firms experiencing fast growth. T. Brad Harris teaches business at Texas Christian University and the University of Illinois.

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