Every successful company reaches a point when it needs to grow beyond the team that helped get it there. When this time comes, ensuring your best players are happy and fulfilled while also up-leveling your team where necessary is crucial to success.
In just three years after launching, our company has made $100 million in annual revenue. With each new growth cycle came new opportunities and challenges, requiring a batch of new skill sets and experience needed. But finding the right time to pull the trigger and make the change can be difficult. Here are five tips that worked for us.
1. Care for the Pack
In a previous post, I shared our company's motto, "Be the Wolfe," which we use to encourage Tilers to take charge, be creative problems solvers and be confident in their decisions. When you find people who do great work and embody your brand, take good care of them. Empower them with the tools to be successful, challenge them to do great work and keep them close. The Wolfes are the ones who can grow with your company.
2. Screen and Train For Self-Sufficiency
While the pack can grow with you, there are times you need to bring in new blood to help sustain growth. Regardless, you need executives who take ownership of their particular task from beginning to end, proactively come up with ideas of what to do next, craft detailed plans for how to get there, hunt for the things they need and take responsibility if things go off the rails.
If you find yourself doing the groundwork for someone else's project or tying up last-minute loose ends, it may be time to find a new solution.
3. Keep an eye on their orbit
It's important to periodically review the people in each of your executive's orbit--their internal team, as well as freelancers and agencies--to see how they're performing. If the quality of the people in their organization begins to dwindle, it's a sign your exec may not know what to look for, or that top talent doesn't want to work with them. If someone on their team is delivering subpar results and your exec resists making the change, it's a sign their job has outgrown their abilities. Allowing under performers to stay can often send a signal to others that you're okay with mediocrity which may cause top talent to leave.
4. I.D. Your Goals
If you want to know how your team is doing, data is key. Setting goals, expectations and measurable action early and often is crucial to both individual and company success. Look beyond revenue and profits to find specific facets of your business that can improve. These goals should be metrics-based and objective. Rather than saying "We need to build a better website next quarter," try "We want to see a 30% improvement in website conversions within the next 90 days."
5. Be careful when over-hiring
A friend, who's a CEO, recently told me he over-hires--that is, if he thinks he needs a manager, he hires a director. While planning for what you think you will need in six months is wise, you need to be careful not to overdo it.
If you hire a pure engineering manager when what you need is a tech lead who can code, then you won't get the results you want. Likewise, if you need a director who is "start-up ready," and you hire a senior vice president who has worked at large companies for the past 15 years, they may have a hard time working in a 100-person company where their team and budget feels too small to execute on their vision. The need to consistently rein in lofty plans will begin to frustrate both of you and likely lead to failure.
Survival requires that we evolve when circumstances change. Your ability to bring on not just new talent, but the right talent at the right time, will make your company more powerful.