Over the next few weeks, I will chat with you about five topics. I believe that each topic is a key issue for growing your company from 15 to 50 and then to 150 people or more. So, here is my take on that Holy Grail, on what companies and my clients need to focus:
Know Thy Self
Look at Your People
Today, we are tackling #2, Look at Your People. My experience with companies at the 15 and 50 stage is that after, and along with the owner CEO, the key employees are the biggest reason that companies get stuck and do not make it to the next level. Most often the Owner does not start by looking at themselves and getting others to weigh in on their gaps in experience, skills and capabilities and then determine whether they will continue to hold the top seat in their organization or apply themselves to the place they provide the most value. If they decide to continue to remain CEO, most do not develop (on their own or with others) a professional development plan, including a set of specific actions and on a timeline.
Part of developing and executing such a plan is that it forces the Owner to confront the brutal question… can they learn, get experience, etc. what they need to and within the timeframe that will work for the company and their exit? The second result is that they begin holding themselves out as a model for everyone else and the expectation around developing key employees shifts when this happens. I have worked with Harvard MBA’s who either got stuck on telling themselves (and everyone else), that they had no need of a development plan or they figured out where their gaps were and addressed them.
At 15 and 50 people, many Owners feel that they can’t afford to hire the right people and make do. I also hear from some that they can’t afford the coaching or other outside help that will close their or their employee’s gaps. If this is the case, you probably do not have a sustainable business model, or are over-valuing what salary you should take out of the company. Seriously, if you are going to do your first company, or CEO position or ….. you should plan on having some one in a trainer position and the amount of time/cost and be tailored to budget. Just don’t convince yourself that you can’t afford it. The potential consequences are too large.
At 150 people or greater, the issues begin to change and often the Owner is in a position of having to deal with their ego (keeping up with bright people who have already done and experienced where you want to go). In these cases, it is important to have some conversations about expectations regarding roles, responsibility and authority.
Weigh in here…. agree? Disagree? What have been your experiences in getting the gap closing help you need in sports, fitness, marriage/relationships or other areas, including business?