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HR and people strategy in growth businesses

The side effect of any thriving, innovative and growing business is the challenge of managing change. Organic growth, and certainly growth through acquisition, brings with it the necessity to maintain a focused, engaged and collegiate workforce whilst holding onto a valuable asset – a distinct and positive company culture.

At Hg’s latest HR Forum, 20 HR & People Leaders from across Hg’s family gathered to share best practices and network with their peers.

During the two-day forum, six speakers from Hg’s portfolio covered three core themes:

Strategy and fundamentals:

How to set up a comprehensive yet achievable HR strategy and action plan. Some key points:

  • In the modern business world, it is not the big fish that eat the small fish. It is the fast fish that eat the slow fish.
  • The only constant is change. One good example of change is improvement and the more you improve, the more you change. “Improvement” is often perceived more positively than the word “change”.
  • Most successful CEOs have experienced mistakes or failure at some point in their lives but made it through and learned from it. Many give up along the way. The four most critical success factors separating a great CEO from an average one: fast decision making, engagement, proactive adaptability and reliable delivery.
  • M&A integration is like buying and selling a house. You may put a lot of effort into putting in the perfect wooden floors but, once the next owner moves in, they can make the decision to put back the carpet. This can be painful, especially if you are still living in the house… M&A integration needs to be done quickly, but with care.

Employee Engagement:

How to improve and measure employee engagement. Some key points:

  • Tailor your talent management planning to identify readiness as well as performance. This will factor in the importance of those that are ready to advance into the next role.
  • People leave leaders, not organisations. Failing to get management right has a detrimental impact on your business performance.
  • You need to create a corporate culture without blame, where it is ok to fail. Get your key projects right and allow your experiments to fail.


Recruitment strategies for entry level talent. Some key points:

  • When you recruit it is as much about them choosing you, as you selecting them. Your business needs to match their needs as an individual.
  • Talent is abundant, achievement is scarce. Successful behaviours and performance are nothing in the wrong context: you need to know what the context of your organisation is to attract the right talent and optimise performance.

The Hg portfolio attendees were mixed with informative external speakers for additional perspectives:

Roger Philby, founder of Chemistry, shared his insights into the ‘prediction problem’ and how achievement and experience often prove to be the worst predictors of high performance. High performance depends on the context – even the greatest person can become a ‘mood hoover’ in the wrong context. Determine your company’s context, by defining what great looks like in your organisation.

Keisha-Ann Gray, partner in Proskauer’s Labour and Employment Law department, gave us some practical considerations for how to build a company culture which deters sexual harassment and how to deal with allegations in the #MeToo era. She also highlighted that more gender diverse and inclusive teams often have fewer problems with sexual harassment.

Glenn Elliott, author of the Rebel Playbook, sharing the fundamental success factors for an engaged workforce, including the importance of the really small things (such as having enough spoons and microwaves in the staff kitchen!).

James Hadley, Partner at Bain & Company, provided an overview of the “Founder’s Mentality”: Bain’s research on how fast-growing companies can become global leaders without losing the values that helped them succeed, as well as how to maintain a high-energy and high-performance culture.

After two successful days together, Hg’s HR community is continuing the conversation and sharing knowledge: promoting further improvement to the benefit of performance across their companies.

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