StreetWise — How to Survive Your Company’s Teenage Years

March 26, 2019

From our friends at Eure Consulting:

Hang on to your sanity! Your world just shifted!

The dynamic that occurs as a company grows into the 20–30-employee range is unlike anything you’ve been through before. Up to this point in your company’s history, it’s been CEO-centric — your passion, your vision, your blood, sweat and tears that have been moving the company forward.

With the addition of employee No. 20, a strange phenomenon occurs. We liken it to when your preteen, who used to believe you walked on water, now thinks you’re dumb and getting dumber. At your growing company, you are now just a few months away from a full-blown staff revolution. You’ve felt the subtle changes — your employees are a bit harder to manage, they push back more often, their attitude hits you in the face when you least expect it, you seem to be at odds with one or more of them on a daily basis.

Here’s a hint. Don’t look at them — look at yourself. Now that your company has grown this big, your ability to manage it just hit a wall, and it’s you, not your employees, who has to make the needed changes — and quickly!

A couple of critical forces are hitting at the same time. In the early stages of growth, a company is CEO-centric. When you move past the 20-employee mark though, it becomes enterprise-centric. It’s too big for you to keep wearing all the hats. It’s time to start passing those hats around to some of the incredibly talented people you’ve hired.

With this growth also comes the need to re-evaluate the processes and procedures your company is using. You’ll need to let go of methods that no longer work and adopt new ones that fit the irrevocably changed environment.

That’s a lot for any CEO to deal with.

Many CEOs of companies that grow to this size lose the enthusiasm — the passion — that used to be their motivating force. They relied on that passion and enthusiasm to power them through the tough times. But now, they start to dread coming to work in the morning, wondering what problem will pop up today.

Every company hits these obstacles as it grows, but if you can be intentional — deliberate, purposeful, determined — about your growth and prepare for these challenges and management shifts ahead of time, you and your company will enjoy a much smoother road to success.

###