Situation: A tech company has grown to twenty people. The CEO is concerned that if they grow much beyond this their culture will start to change. The principal question is whether team leadership structure will remain tight and focused, while teams will continue to be flexible and have fun. How do you manage culture as you grow?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Other companies have grown to twice this size and continue to increase their number of employees.
- One uses component owners as leads, with people under them. Leads are more technical than managers and aren’t expected to be superb managers.
- They grow middle managers organically instead of hiring from outside.
- If an individual’s plate is full, give them the ability to delegate work to an up and comer.
- Active communication has number limits.
- The optimal functioning group is 7-12; higher functioning teams are even smaller with 7-8 members.
- Create flexible teams that maintain communication pathways and culture.
- Consider using reconfigurable space.
- When one company grew from 25 to 60, they noticed that at 30 people it became difficult to track people; they needed to develop systems and internal management tools.
- Much more attention was needed on sales forecasting and expense elasticity. The solution was to study peaks and valleys and built a model that could function within historic peak /valley limits.
- How do you maintain the contractor pool?
- Keep a list and actively communicate with them about current and anticipated needs.
- One company’s rule: consultants are 100% billable – functionally they are only able to realize 98%, but the rule keeps this number high.
- Use contractor pools to supplement project tasks. If your primary differentiating focus is on successfully closing projects, focus contractors on ramping new projects.
- Hire people who embody you and your culture. Hire in your own image.