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How to manage growth

When growth is your goal, it takes a lot more headspace than just keeping things ticking over. It means a switch to a more entrepreneurial and creative mindset – by everyone in the organisation, but especially at director/manager level. Having to take time to deal with day to day work, however essential, detracts from this mindset and can put the brakes on growing your organisation. 


Examine your time

If you don’t understand exactly how your staff are currently spending their time then you won’t be able to grow your business. Logging how time is spent for just one week can quickly reveal what is eating up most of your team's time.

Logging time doesn't have to be down to the minute – just ballpark hours spent on the following:

Non-growth activities

  • Employee management – including payroll, disciplinary, recruitment and so on
  • Operational management – including managing existing contracts, servicing clients, deliverables, liaising with suppliers
  • Legal and regulatory issues – including health and safety and financial management
  • Cost-cutting – Looking for and implementing ways to save money
  • Fire-fighting – client/supporter complaints, supplier disputes, IT support

Growth activities

  • Bidding for new business and seeking out new clients/supporters
  • Marketing, advertising and brand awareness
  • Service innovation
  • User/supporter research
  • Market analysis for relevant sector

If no-one is spending time thinking about growth then this should be a signal that you need to look at ways of reducing your staff’s focus on day to day activities.


Have a growth strategy

It's not necessary to have a complete growth strategy in place before you can start talking about it within the organisation. Simply including it as a regular agenda item on existing meetings sets an intention and sends a strong message about where you want your organisation to go.

Even better is to hold regular meetings or workshops dedicated to the subject of growth. As well as being a way of carving out time, this helps to get everyone's brain focusing on it. Regular discussion and brainstorming will mean that your top team will be working on the problem in the background as they go about their everyday activities and are far more likely to notice and act on growth opportunities when they arise.

Even if no clear strategy emerges to begin with, the effect of simply talking about growth opportunities can have a remarkable effect on the energy and optimism of an organisation– provided people can see some progress being made.


Make it somebody's job

To ensure tangible progress is made it is necessary for at least one person in the organisation to be spending the majority of their time thinking about growth. This may be the chief executive/director, or it may be delegated to another member of the management team.

If no existing person can spend this much time, it may be necessary to think about hiring someone. A cheaper alternative is to provide existing managers with extra assistance to free up their time.

Above all, don't just add "organisation growth" to a team member's current workload – either it just won't happen or existing operations will suffer.


Make it everybody's job to help

One person generating innovations and new marketing ideas can't make them happen alone. It’s important to involve the whole management team, including operations and HR and finance, to work out implementation and help evolve ideas.

Make sure all staff are aware of the growth initiative and invite ideas from throughout the company. The most effective and practical ideas can often come from those working at the customer level or actually producing and delivering products/services.


Focus outwards

The key to growth is identifying potential user needs and meeting them – so this is a time to talk to your users – a lot!

Make sure to look at similar organisations to your own. Who is succeeding best in your sector, and why? Again, this helps you to see your company from an outside perspective.

Shifting to an outwards focus can sometimes be best achieved by hiring in someone who can look at your business with fresh eyes.


Outsource non-core functions

Identify any areas which are not contributing to growth and consider whether outsourcing might be appropriate. For example, health and safety, payroll, building services, catering, accounting and legal services may all be managed more efficiently – and as a result, take up less management headspace – by being outsourced.

Outsourcing any specific function needs to carefully balance the financial costs and other factors important to the organisation, such as what level of control or specialist expertise you need to retain. Read our how to on outsourcing for some tips

Further information

The information in this how-to guide has been provided by Bond Payroll Services, an NCVO Trusted Supplier.
NCVO helps voluntary organisations cut costs and become more effective by negotiating discounts and preferential arrangements for its members on a wide range of products and services. Find out more about NCVO membership.
FMP Payroll Services offers a range of payroll services to support your organisation through a completely/partly outsourced payroll service.


Page last edited Nov 18, 2016 History

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