Let’s face it. No-one takes joy from having to fire an executive. But sometimes, it’s necessary.
To successfully achieve your strategy as a fast growth company you need to have the right structure, the right people, the right systems and a great culture in place.
As companies grow, they typically pass through a predictable set of stages which are directly related to number of people employed. Each stage has its own set of challenges when it comes to scaling your management and leadership team.
Checkside scaling curve
Optimising your management and leadership team to meet the challenges of your company’s stage of growth is critically important – and this requires you to reinvent your leadership teams as your company scales.
If your leadership teams don’t scale in lock step with its revenues and/or your customer base, things can quickly spiral out of control.
The people who are adept at launching a company aren’t necessarily going to be the right people to scale it. Each major stage of growth represents a step change in the level of management and executive talent required.
Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh provide an analogy that illuminates this scenario well in their latest book Blitzscaling: The lightning fast path to building massively valuable companies.
Here it is:
The marines take the beach. The army brings order. And the police enforce the laws.
So what does your current – and next – stage of business require?
Are you a start up or scale up in need of marines? The resourceful generalists who can bootstrap, work with ambiguity, solve tough problems and get things done?
Or, is your company in the professionalise stage and in need of army officers? The engineers of structure and process to set in place necessary infrastructure?
Or, is your company in the enterprise stage and in need of police? The specialists with deep functional knowledge that can maintain order and progress at scale?
The team that successfully launches a company isn’t necessarily going to be the right one to scale it. The team that helps you scale up isn’t necessarily going to be the right one to run it at scale. And the team that keeps order and control at scale aren’t necessarily going to be the ones to help you transition to the next ‘curve’.
(Side note: if you haven’t listened to Charles Handy narrating his audiobook The Second Curve: Thoughts on Reinventing Society, you seriously need to give it a listen.)
In summary, each major stage of business growth represents a new challenge. Very few individual contributors can scale to managers and then to executives at the same pace that a moderate to fast growth company requires. It might’ve worked that way in the Industrial Age – but today’s fast changing business environment is a whole new ball game.
Don’t let an executive team that can’t scale at the same pace as your business hold you back.