Managing Organizational Growth

As a CEO coach and advisor, I often work with both new and seasoned CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs to identify, analyze and overcome the challenges of growth. Typically, this is in hyper growth situations as many of these enterprises are startups. Having been a CEO for more than 33 years, managing growth is not foreign soil, and I have been there many times. Company growth is a very good problem to have, but when poorly planned, it is fraught with peril. The two steps forward, one step backward kind of peril.

Growth is “change,” and organizations and people are often uncomfortable with change. They may see the cost of change resulting in organizational ineffectiveness, loss of critical employees, a hit to morale, a bad twist in the culture or client dissatisfaction. Through an understanding of your company’s culture and implementing a comprehensive plan to communicate company vision and tactics, organizational growth will be a controlled, continuous process.

Understanding Your Company Culture
Growth is almost always about injecting new and fresh talent into a company. While I think it is a bit overplayed these days, there is merit in hiring employees who fit the company culture. Culture is not foosball and keg beer; it is the totality of the policies and plans as articulated by the genuine and authentic leadership voice of the CEO and others. If you join the Army Rangers, you will not get much traction in changing the culture. In this instance, culture is well established and may have drawn you in to the organization in the first place.

When handling company growth, the very first thing a CEO should do is to take the organization’s current temperature. Revisit and update the vision, mission, strategy, tactics, objectives, values and company culture. You have likely done this unconsciously as the growth itself is in support of one or more of these components. Update the documents for the new condition, not the former condition. This is an excellent method of communicating the implications of the growth to your existing team.

Implementing Communications Strategy for Your Plans
People assimilate information in different ways. Give folks time to understand the before and after implications. Make this a spaced repetition communication program.

1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
2. Tell them.
3. Tell them what you told them.
4. Take questions.
5. Ask folks to tell you what they heard.
6. Rinse and repeat.

It’s important to note that the “shelf life” or “sell by date” of many of these plans is getting shorter and shorter as the Internet Age requires continuous change to meet an evolving marketplace. Once upon a time, a clear vision (the raison d’etre of the CEO, founder or entrepreneur) was good for 5-10 years. Now, keen observers wouldn’t suggest it is good for less than two years. Even in hyper growth situations, CEOs have the opportunity to manage and control the company’s growth, leading to continuous, evolving growth.

Jeffrey L. Minch has been a founder, entrepreneur, President, CEO and Director for more than 33 years. He can be reached by email at jminch2011@gmail.com or phone at 512-656-1383. For more information and blog posts, visit www.themusingsofthebigredcar.com.