Technology and the culture of novelty : Part Two
Last week we’ve briefly covered hiring practices in the technology industry (click here to get up to speed!). This post will switch focus from hiring to company growth and the changes it implies within your staff.
Let us clarify one thing right away, all businesses have one common goal : growth. A company which does not grow in one way or another is not competitive. In the business of technology, overnight success is par for the course and the time taken for growth is usually condensed to a fraction of what businesses in other fields might be able to afford.
Expecting smooth expansion and growth is tempting but the reality of it is that such changes must be planned carefully; as your company expands, it will change in radical ways which might not be obvious at first glance.
Start-ups feel like a close-knit family, where employees often wear many hats, acting on instinct and self-propelled initiative, undertaking innovative methods and practices on a daily basis. The individuals who are productive and motivated in such environments often change drastically as a company grows larger. Though usually subconscious, this type of behavior if left unchecked or unrecognized can easily lead to employee depression and even sabotage.
The most commonly employed solution to this issue usually tends towards lateral or vertical promotions. Peter’s principle inevitably rears its ugly head and what were once proud standard-bearers of your company’s excellence quickly become hindrances to the company’s desired growth.
Another common strategy is to create loosely defined managerial positions to keep such employees on-board as an ill-advised form of compensation. The tasks assigned to these jobs usually fall outside of the company’s critical path.
Both of these avenues are to be avoided as they amount to putting problems on the back-burner, letting them simmer and erupt into complicated, costly issues later on, potentially disrupting your growth efforts at a crucial time. Growth plans must be communicated with the staff, clearly and precisely; its consequences delineated and explained. Employees will always favor honesty, however harsh, over nebulous or sugar-coated excuses.
As more employees join your ranks, maintaining efficiency requires standardization of processes, a dedicated management team and appropriate HR services. As C.E.O., your usual methods will have to be revised, refined and seeking coaching in this regard might help you to avoid unnecessary conflict.
To further illustrate this situation, think of an airport. You could hire a few tireless multi-tasking geniuses to manage every plane’s landing and take-off but your operation would fail catastrophically once one of these theoretical super-employees called in sick. That is one of the many reasons why you spread precisely defined processes across more employees, each one assigned with a limited number of tasks and easily replaceable; at the end of the day, planes will land and take-off, which is the only thing that matters to the company’s prolonged success.
While it might seem like this process leads to dehumanization of businesses, large systems need such compromises in order to run smoothly.
Did you witness other, successful ways in which company growth was handled? Do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments!