We reach the 50 people milestone in our company recently. Your worries at this stage are different than the ones you had when you were starting with your band of 4 cats.
When you are small, you work elbow to elbow with your team; victories and failures were huge when they really weren’t, and decisions were made seeking whatever gives you a bit of financial stability. We rented some desks at a co-work and we went into the fight. Every day.
As time passed by, we grew our customer base, and therefore our team. Somehow, in the middle of this, a global pandemic, and other challenges, we manage to retain most of our talent. Wrong people would leave, most of them on their own with no hard feelings. Some leaders may credit themselves with a high percentage of influence on the success of their companies (you know them… “That’s all me!” type of people; and sure, some leaders are), but man, finding the right people… if that isn’t luck, then what is it! When I tell you we are lucky to have you, it is not an exaggeration!
But also other things started to happen, as a CEO, I started to realize that sometimes people would stay quiet, that they would be afraid of talking. Crazy, because I always thought the best relationship between coworkers, is that of big brother/sister to a little brother/sister. The little brother/sister wants the best for the big brother/sister (and vice versa) and the big brother/sister is not afraid, from time to time, to correct the little one. If a bully comes in, the big brother/sister comes in to handle it; if you broke a window, the big brother/sister will build your courage to go and get fix what you did. If you are reading this, and have not seen the documentary about Boeing on Netflix, please do yourself a favor and watch it. A culture of hiding and staying quiet goes only one way: down.
Dear team - especially those experiencing hard situations: everything we do is hard, as part of our team, please understand that fact, be ok with it, and be proud of it; understanding this important fact needs to come with the assurance that you WILL need help, that you WILL make mistakes, and that the entire team is there to help you. But we won’t know if you don’t raise your hand and ask for help. Acknowledging that what we do is hard needs to come with the understanding that we WILL be behind you facing that client, or building that feature, and that you will NOT be facing challenges alone. We don’t do easy things, please know that and what it entails.
Your professional development then should come as part of that challenge - How we make this easier next time? What can we do to change this relationship so it works for everyone? What skills or super power do I need to have to make this better? How can I make this easier for my team? and of course! How can we make more money out of this?
If I (or the management team) ever gave you the impression you could not talk, please know that our successes are extremely linked and that we want to help you - this might be at odd times due to time differences and remote locations, but we, as a company, want to know! Your success is our success and I depend more on you than you on me.
If I ever gave you the impression that you could not talk to me, please know that I’ll be waiting for you with a drink at our next quarterly party. Let’s hug it out!