When a company goes through a fast-paced growth phase, the absence of a proper infrastructure to provide stability can be a fatal cavity. It’s like building a tower on top of hollow pillars. It’ll eventually come crashing down.
With no proper structure to recruitment and absolutely no attention on onboarding, the employees begin working in chaos. Add that to poorly defined job aspects and company values. Talk about employee experience.
This might seem a little too much but believe me, this is what happens to fast-paced companies who have a culture by default. Naturally, the CEO runs to control everything, further adding to the grapevine and damaging employee morale. When a company starts like this in its growth phase, it’s only a matter of time till the hollow pillars crack, which is what happened here.
I recently interviewed an HR leader of a fast-growing digital marketing company with a complex organizational structure with branches in both the Philippines and the US. The company had around 50 employees and quickly grew to the size of 150.
We talked about people challenges that fast-growing companies face. And if not corrected at the right time, these complications can snowball into a fatal setback for the company.
“We were in the midst of a hiring spree. Let alone an infrastructure to support such hiring, the roles we were hiring for weren’t even fully designed. With no clear sense of the roles and prospects of these positions and no defined company values, it was clear there was a lot of culture building to be done. That is to work together and be able to translate those efforts into organizational goals.” – HR Leader
When you’re growing that fast, you suddenly need new managers. But do you think they’ll fit in an already turbulent environment?
“We were trying to coach the managers who had depth and breadth of experience but not contextual. So it was hard for them to pivot fast enough.” – HR Leader
This was not limited to the new managers. The problem of performance and productivity permeated throughout the organizational structure.
“When you’re moving that fast you have to identify the problems and fix them. Also, you need to have timing and luck on your side. Because it’s impossible to not make some mistakes.
Two things happened due to which we didn’t pivot fast enough in the business strategy.
1) Managers who worked themselves up to the people management weren’t good at people management
2) Outsiders we brought in weren’t the right fit for the role. This led to bottlenecks in information flowing down and misalignment of various teams. As a result, the pivot didn’t successfully happen at the right time.” – HR Leader
Inevitably, the company above missed its window to pivot and ultimately had a setback in Q4 of 2019. They did a layoff to save the company. Come to COVID they had to downsize yet again! Currently, they have around 65 employees onboard. It was either ‘cut-off a poisoned leg or die’ situation. The worst had happened.
You might call this progression dramatic, but it is just the natural order of things.
What fast-growing organizations need is a structure to accommodate recruits and facilitate better communication throughout the organization. This structure is enabled by properly descriptive job demands, company values, and a support system for people managers. This is what ensures an experience to make employees productive.
It’s not intuitive to see experience quantitatively. Hence, it’s easy to neglect. Here companies usually use a culture or employee experience measurement tool.
“We started using a culture measurement tool this year. Before that, we used surveys but, they were not aggregated to have benchmarks and track progress. The surveys helped us to gather basic data for planning. On the other hand, the culture measurement tool provided insights to make decisions.” – HR Leader.
But only data doesn’t help, does it? After looking at the data the first questions managers ask is “Okay, what do I do in this situation?” They need guidance on what is a better way to provide the right experience to their teams.
Managers usually need a coach who can handhold them in such situations. In such cases, the coach is someone who they trust and can bounce ideas off. The coach can give ideas and suggestions on what the managers can do to improve the employee experience and their own managerial styles.
The challenge for companies remains how to provide this support to managers at scale throughout the organization. This is where technology comes in. Can companies enable managers with a tool that can understand the underlying employee psychology and nudge the managers to do the right things in real-time?
Evidently enough, making culture from the beginning is simpler than having to change it later on. Investing in company culture gives an organization the best chance for company growth.