Scaling your role.
When an organization grows, you need to grow.
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👋 Hello and happy Thursday!
During the summer, I got admitted to Substack Grow, and one of the first tips they offered was to publish content consistently and do it roughly on the same day every week. I've been so-so on the latter part. Going forward, I will try to get the week's article out on Thursdays. Let's see how that goes.
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Enough of this, let's dive into today's topic!
It’s all about the scale.
Over the last years, I've been fortunate to work with companies that are all looking to scale their organization, one way or another. When I joined Spotify in 2013, we were around 1000 employees, and when I left, we were about 5000 employees. Since leaving Spotify, I've worked with organizations looking to either make the same journey or change their current ways of working.
Suppose I was a management consultant working at one of those fancy management consultant corporations. In that case, this is where I would say that every organization is unique and has its own unique challenges. But that wouldn't be true. And I'm not a management consultant, so I can say so.
And even though I could create a fancy PowerPoint about those similarities and talk at great length about them, I won't. As I said, I'm not a management consultant.
Instead, let's talk about one of those similarities. If not the most critical factor when scaling organizations, at least it's up on the podium.
Grow like you mean it.
Inevitably when an organization grows, the people in the organization need to grow with the role. What you did six months ago won't be the same thing you do in six months. Do you manage three people today? Congrats, in 11 months, you'll be managing 53. The skill to scale with the organization is especially crucial for leaders. The last scenario is not an uncommon one. And it usually happens to people who are managers for the first time in their careers.
Keeping up with the pace is hard, and I'd say the failure rate of leaders scaling with the org is around 35-45%. As in 35-45% are not able to scale with the organization. Meaning that they will have their scope diminished. In fact, it is not unusual that the organization hires a new "Head of" that you all of a sudden have to report to.
So how can you prevent yourself from ending up in the wrong bucket?
Hey, I need to scale!
New role? Congrats. If you now find yourself in the deep end of the pool, so to say, feeling a bit overwhelmed by your new role, here are my suggestions on what to do.
Ask for help. From the bottom of my heart, please do this. There are so many managers trying things on their own. I know that your company might have an "embrace failure" culture, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't ask your manager or HR for support. If you, for some unknown reason, don't feel comfortable seeking help in your organization, ask a mentor, friend, or consultant for advice. (Or perhaps quit if you don't trust the rest of the org...)
I'll repeat it; ask for help. Most new managers feel that "I should know this and shouldn't need help," and then they make, for lack of better words, stupid decisions. You are not stronger on your own.
Set aside time for learning. It's like the good old story with the lumberjacks. One just cuts down trees furiously, the other takes breaks and sharpens his ax, and the one with a sharp ax wins in the long run. Attending your HR training is sharpening your ax. I know I'm biased here; after all, I'm an HR dude (not a management consultant, though, then we would just be counting trees). If you've already done all the HR training, be sure to pick up a book, a podcast, a YouTube video, or a newsletter. (Shameless plug: Share this one with a co-worker.)
Seek out feedback. And don't just do it in the annual review that you might or might not have. Ask for it, listen to it, ask for more, adjust. Repeat. You need to know what you are doing well and where you have the potential to develop. I'm not a huge fan of developing one's weak sides, but you need to be aware of them at least.
The list could go on and on, but these three are reasonable first steps to take.
Be humble, and did I also mention; Ask for help?