When I joined Weekdone as its 6th employee, we used to have team lunches every week. I loved them. We bonded, shared ideas and dealt with any problems that had arisen. As we started scaling the company, it became harder and harder to find time for this sort of get-togethers. At some point, it became hard to find venues that had tables big enough.
This is one of the challenges of growing and scaling your business. When companies grow, leaders face a lot of new challenges. Yet, fast growth is something entrepreneurs dream about and strive towards. Fastest growing SaaS companies scale their organisations extremely rapidly: growing their teams by an average of 56% each year. Gail Sheehy, New York Times Bestselling Author has said that "Growth demands a temporary surrender of security." Luckily, most of these challenges can be met quite easily with a little planning.
Scaling your teams brings larger problems.
The first thing you must accept is that running a larger team is very different then handling a small core team in a SME or a start-up. Rosie Symonds has said that “Larger teams seem to have more difficulty in communicating between individuals because of the number of team members. Managers of large teams don’t often have enough time to spend with each member of the team and require the help of supervisors to communicate with them.“
In a small company, it’s easy to make sure that everyone shares your values. Problems are seen more easily and can be solved faster. This will not last. Every people you hire puts strain on your status que, bringing new ideas and values, but also problems to your company. With more revenue, the stakes will also continue to rise. That’s good and normal.
Strain on communications.
HBR.com writes: “Scaling becomes a problem of less because humans and human organizations can only handle so much cognitive load. In other words, successful scaling means finding ways to limit the number of things that people are expected to focus on and execute.” The team lunches we had helped me stay focused as it was a direct line of dialogue with my managers. However, the more people work in a company, the less time the leadership can spend with each individual. You must still make sure that everyone is moving towards the common goals and know what people and teams are up to, but you have less and less time to communicate with people directly. The solution? Automated goal setting or weekly planning solutions.
“Weekdone has helped me to stay connected and keep on collaborating with my team” Michele Puccio, the Sales Director at Arrow has said. Using it myself, I can say it helps to avoid a lot of issues. It also helps to integrate new people into our team quickly. If employees have problems it always shows in their weekly progress report as they get less done than normal. A good manager notices things like this and intervenes and solve these problems before they start affecting the team. Sujan Patel writes about some other dangers with scaling a company. One of those is ignoring issues that pop up. “Growth, especially if it happens quickly, takes almost everyone out of their comfort zone. There are bound to be personnel, personality and product issues along the way.”
Strains on company culture.
Company culture and core values emerge early on in most companies. They are the shared culture of a start-up founders or the ideas that SME’s leadership shares. At that point there is no problem with that. Everyone understands and accepts them. But each new person may understand this culture differently. That’s why most companies and recruiters make sure that the potential employee is a “cultural fit.” And influences the team in a positive and progressive way.