By Mary Medeiros
Growth creates a whole set of ‘good problems’ for any business leader. All the more so at a company like Harvest ETFs, where growth has been steady for over a decade but turned exponential over the past two years. As our CEO puts it “we’re a 10-year overnight success story.”
Maintaining our exponential growth means we have to grow our team. New staff will help us scale our operations further and innovate new ways to serve Canadian investors. But hiring as fast as we’re growing comes with a host of new challenges. How do we hire the best when there’s a time crunch? How do we communicate the next phase of growth to our existing teams? How do we ensure that we hire sustainably, for our employees and for our business?
As independent entrepreneurs, our approach at Harvest ETFs has revolved around three key ideas: set our priorities, trust our leaders, and stick to our principles.
Setting priorities for a growing team
One of the advantages of independence in the financial services industry is that we can set a purpose for our organization clearly. Bigger organizations often have to embark on soul-searching examinations, but they have so many aspects to their businesses that the common identity they find feels generic.
At Harvest ETFs, our core priority has been clear from the outset: help Canadians build wealth in the long-term with straightforward investment funds. Our hiring priorities flow from that. Whether we need to grow our sales team to explain our purpose to financial advisors, take on portfolio managers to develop ETF strategies that suit our core priority, or hire compliance professionals to ensure our work meets the highest regulatory standards.
Starting with one clear priority allows us to grow with intent. It also means our team leaders can operate with greater independence and innovation because they understand our core priority.
Trusting our leaders to execute
With one core priority in mind, our team leaders are able to clearly articulate what they need to ensure our continued growth. Hiring decisions often begin with requests from our team leaders, who can share clearly what additional support they need and why.
That is not to say we give our leaders a blank cheque, hiring decisions must be justified and for someone in my role it’s as important to say no as it is to say yes. However, it’s important for our leaders to feel trusted and heard. As we grow, its our leaders’ responsibility to stay clued into the work they do. If they want to hire someone who will help their team, I know that the reasons stem from the day to day experience of their work.
Maintaining our principles
At Harvest ETFs we are committed to quality. In our products, our service delivery, and in our teams. That has been key from the outset, even when hiring wasn’t easy. As an independent firm, just starting out in Oakville, we had trouble attracting top talent in our early years. We made the decision in those days, however, to hire based on the best fit rather than take the first person who walked in the door.
That principle took work to maintain. When hiring is slow and you need to grow, it’s very hard to tell someone no because you don’t see a long-term fit. However, I believe that so much of our success and growth has come down to making the right early hires. Now as we continue our rapid growth stage, I am always reminding myself of that decision.
We face a new hiring pressure now. People want to come work at Harvest, but with so many options it can be harder to know who the right fit will be. By reminding ourselves of those early decisions and how we laid the foundations for our success, we can continue to make the right hiring decisions.
Hiring to maintain growth is certainly one of the ‘good problems’ any entrepreneur faces. As welcoming people and equal-opportunity employers, we are always happy to see our team grow. But, growing our team sustainably and well means setting our priority, trusting our leaders, and sticking to our principles.