Running a fast-growing company is exciting, but what happens when the company grows faster than your skill set? This is a problem Katlin Smith faced the hard way while building her baked-goods company Simple Mills

When Smith first started her company, she hired a bunch of young, excited, scrappy employees to get it off the ground. Eventually she realized that in order to scale the business, she'd need to hire people with 15-20 years of experience under their belts. She scoured LinkedIn for high-quality, seasoned candidates to build out her team. But two months into her new employees' tenure, Smith started running into problems. 

"They started to get pretty frustrated with me," she says in an Inc. video. "They felt like I was micromanaging, and that I was proverbially, 'in their shorts,' and I had kind of a realization then that I had to change my approach." 

Smith's big takeaway: Learn how to be a leader of people, rather than just a manager who gets things executed. Employees with experience don't want to be told how to do tasks, they want to be given a direction and the freedom to apply their own problem-solving solutions.

Self-realization is the first step to change, but in order to acquire the necessary skills to lead her company, Smith needed to look inward and work on personal development. She took a vacation, hired an executive coach, and took leadership courses to fill the gaps. Through these moves she learned to step back and trust her team to do their jobs. 

"Let people skin their knees. Let them figure things out for themselves," she says. "It certainly has a cost in the short term, but in the long run, people learn the most from their mistakes, and they're also motivated to not do them again. They feel rewarded because of that, and they feel trusted."

Published on: Sep 27, 2019