WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM RAPID GROWTH?
Our company has experienced rapid growth over the last four years. What have we learned during this time? How to successfully navigate growing pains with a culture of collaboration. We face distinctive obstacles as a mechatronics product development company with four sites along the West Coast. Each location has a slightly different distribution of skill sets and our management team is spread out between them. This range of geographic proximity and varying combinations of expertise gives us many opportunities to provide unique services to our clients, but also produces unique problems.
HARD QUESTIONS LEAD TO…
Through these years of intense growth, we’ve had to ask ourselves difficult questions. How do we allow for autonomy without risking inconsistency that can plague a company reliant on cross-site collaboration? Do we allow certain offices to become leaders in particular market segments, perhaps based on local clients? Do we force use of standardized processes and tools, even if the organically grown methods in each location are not inherently broken? Answering these questions helps us develop a dynamic answer to our main challenge: how do we create a cohesive culture that empowers our expert individuals to execute well as a team?
GROWTH THROUGH LEARNING
The most important thing we’ve come to acknowledge on this journey is that no individual has all the answers. We also recognize that while it’s good to grow, it isn’t enough to strive for growth alone. Growth demands clear direction and deliberate choices to remain productive and focused. At times, that’s meant postponing growth. We’ve found that by limiting growth to projects that hone our focus and slowing hiring to only A-team players has helped us achieve sustained, healthy growth and build a high quality roster of employees.
ANSWERS IN ACTION
As a management team, we make it a priority to have regular discussions on the issues that can inhibit positive growth. Differing, even opposing views in these discussions are inevitable, but the only way to create resolutions and move forward as a stronger, unified group is to examine all views hands-on and take the best pieces from each proposed solution.
At these meetings, we discuss topics like which best practices should be standardized, the different sales strategies as a company versus those for each location, and who we want to be as a company in the years to come. These discussions eliminate the mystery behind policy changes, to the degree where each employee can clearly see the direction we are heading in as a company.
COLLABORATION BREEDS COMPANY PRIDE
We are proud to be a company that facilitates collaborative decision-making at all levels. Each employee having a voice on company matters is essential for the emotional well-being and retention of our teams. Group-driven choices are more thoughtful and balanced between interests. When everyone has a sense of ownership in company progress, there is a centered motivation to work as a team, even when there are bumps in the road. Although it can take additional time to collaborate, we’ve found that decisions made in this manner tend to cost less time in the long run.
HOW TO JUMPSTART COMPANY CULTURE
Sound interesting? Sound impossible? All we can recommend is a test trial. Build a place in your teams that allows for constructive input to the company direction. Lean on your advisory board and experts, but don’t neglect the thoughts of the folks in the trenches. While it is tempting to focusing solely on financial success or growth, creating an enjoyable and retentive workplace is equally rewarding and deserves deliberate attention.