When I talk to graduates about to embark on the world of work and ask them what their ideal company looks like, they nearly always describe a large, corporate company often with great offices. But is this the best route to fast track success?

Many of us have experienced working for large organisations and been given the opportunity to change positions multiple times within that same business. Larger organisations tend to have more sites in different locations allowing individuals to be more flexible with living and travel choices. Within Procurement, corporate organisations exhibit strong brand awareness and recognition resulting in strong negotiation with suppliers leveraging economies of scale. Larger organisations bring greater resources enabling better technology infrastructure and subsequent commercial advantage.

Having previously worked for a large international company for a decade, one of the challenges I experienced was establishing social cohesion and culture. It can be harder to get to know your colleagues and co-workers due to the large volume of employees. For people who appreciate a familiar environment, this can be a disadvantage. High performers and confident individuals get noticed, gaining new opportunities and promotions seemingly more easily, but this can put pressure on individuals to perform and stand out creating a stressful working environment.

Change within a large organisation can sometimes be difficult to implement and occurs at a much slower pace. The numerous levels of communication and various approval structures agreeing the transformation mean larger organisations are not perceived to be as agile and responsive as some smaller entities. These are just some of the challenges leading employees to consider working in a smaller business.

The transition from employment with a larger to smaller business can prove to be a considerable learning curve, as the cultural behaviours and habits that are deemed necessary and acceptable in larger organisations do not translate to an SME.

Behaviours such as empire building (often considered a sign of success in a large corporation) can be detrimental in a smaller business, instead it is essential to create a culture of mutual interest and success instead of territorial defence.

In my experience the benefits of working within an SME significantly outweigh any habitual adjustments. You instantly realise that it is more personable, with the ability to build relationships across all levels with direct access to your colleagues.   There is more opportunity to broaden your skillset with exposure to broader roles, which in turn keeps it interesting. Plus, you can make a real impact daily, and be recognised for it. Everything happens with more agility and ability to respond, implementing change and new ideas with momentum.

When transitioning from a large organisation to a smaller workforce it can be uncomfortable, adjusting to the culture and a more personal working experience. Great opportunities come with this transition; more chances to exhibit your abilities, increased responsibilities and exposure meaning your hard work gets noticed. Finally, flexibility with home working and desk-bound hours is something I have personally found immensely refreshing. Trusting individuals to manage their own workload and day creates incredible loyalty and motivated employees.

About the Author

Emma Lambert

With over 10 years’ international recruitment experience, 5 of which focused specifically in Procurement Recruitment, Emma will work with our Consultants to partner businesses and provide sourcing solutions for those niche roles. Having previously worked with Rupert Gaster (Director, Procurement Heads), Emma has ‘hit the ground running’ and involved with key campaigns. When not in the office, you’ll find Emma enjoying family time with her husband and young son, walking by the water in Hampshire with pit stops at the local bistro.

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