Hey chieftain, are you planning companies that make your people leave?
The initial enthusiasm and excitement from starting our new company, Recordly, has been really empowering. We are just about to hit the 100-day mark, so now is an ideal time to reflect on the interesting findings collected along the way.
Written by — Katriina Kiviluoto, CEO & Co-founder
The initial enthusiasm and excitement from starting our new company, Recordly, has been really empowering. I have noticed that when I have experienced signs of exhaustion in the past, it hasn't been because of too much work. It has actually come down to the various value conflicts or obstacles I've encountered in an organization where the expediency or the game involved with it has been simply too tiring to understand.
Now that our company is on its feet and we are about to hit the 100-day mark, now is an ideal time to reflect on the interesting findings collected along the way.
Prevent organizational bubblegum from growing
Participating in recruitment interviews has provided valuable insight into why people want to join us. What has been especially gratifying is that there have been many of them. We are actually being approached! In fact, it is quite understandable since we have a highly experienced team with whom it is rewarding to resolve complex data-related problems and with whom you can grow into a top expert in the field. The reasons for changing workplaces vary from finding meaning within one’s work to the opportunities to learn from your work and influence it. Although the reasons for switching depend on the individual in question, some universal themes can be identified.
The transition towards organizations formed of networks is already generally common, and its effects will certainly be visible with the movements of forerunners. The direction forerunners are heading towards seems to be self-employment, or at least a shift from larger organizations to smaller ones - after all, the number of small companies has been growing at an accelerating pace recently. What seems to be emphasized amongst forerunners is to feel one's own impact and enjoy the fruits of one's own doing.
During the interviews, I have heard experiences on how the reason for a company's existence gradually becomes blurred when the organization grows, and the discussions start to emphasize ever-increasing goals. And when I talk about goals, I'm not talking about an inspiring mission, but the percentage of how much a company should grow next year. Likewise, you may notice that your own box of influence shrinks under the growth pressures of a large organization, and in an effort to reform things, a large pile of organizational bubblegum* starts to pile up on the soles of your shoes.
*Definition for organizational bubblegum: releasing management-lead, spring-and-fall organizations where boxes are divided among the same names and where changes are not bringing any real value for the people doing the job. Instead, promoting "head of something" people as a reward for their good job or as a ransom when they threaten to leave.
People come first
So, how to prevent these fatal growth pains and ensure our company would be one that experts would like to come back to after many years? Especially since growth in our field is inevitable due to the growing importance of data for companies, the trust clients and employees have towards certain companies, and the goal to secure a certain level of activities and opportunities. So, what is a sufficient amount of growth, and how can it be achieved in the best way possible without losing the connection between the company’s direction and employees’ aspirations?
I believe that the organization should have a structure that supports the people who carry out the company's mission in their everyday work. Our mission is to define how humans and data co-operate. However, when interviewing newcomers, I am not sure whether their previous employers have designed the organizational layers to support the experts' important work and whether they ensure to learn about it throughout the entire organization. It seems that layers are created because someone has to be rewarded with a promotion for their merit and for which a different role is formed within the organization. This makes it increasingly difficult for the everyday heroes to get support or seek decisions for what they need. When did a new and intelligent consultant, who helps the client with their demanding data journey, become an actor regulated by the code of conduct?
“I believe that the organization should have a structure that supports the people who carry out the company's mission in their everyday work.”
Therefore, I encourage you to think about whether you have designed your organization and created roles to help the people that solve the mission-related problems? Do you have the necessary processes to make it easy to share the lessons that people working in the client interface learn about your core business? Does the feedback that you get from that conversation become a spiritual ticket for you to do something about it? Do you then do something about it or do you resolve the matter together?
So when I observe the current state of the company, I compare it to my past activities and reflect on the reasons why people want to leave. I see that I have previously left out a lot of the untapped potential consultants have to offer in developing the business. When the company still fits into a small lunch restaurant and see each other (virtually) on coffee breaks to discuss matters, you can acquire many ideas on how things are handled. The expert/consultant leads the case and receives constant feedback from the market and how the matter works in the market - not from a management's PowerPoint slides. The people working within the client interface really know how things are. Although the idea behind creating teams to ensure good middle-management services and naming “lead stars” within a particular area is good, the focus on growth should have been placed more firmly on the available platforms or processes that enable valuable dialogue so that everyday work is clearly intertwined with the goal - which should be something else that 20% annual growth.
Focus on the real problems
I can’t justify the purpose of all the roles I have created along the way in the light that the goal would have been to support experts in solving clients’ complex problems. Roles shouldn't be set up because someone is about to leave. Instead, the real problems of the organization should be resolved furiously.
However, there is still a need to build meaningful career paths for experts, even when you refrain from creating a bubblegum organization. In my next blog, I’ll talk about how we’ve set out to solve this dilemma at Recordly. Stay tuned!
Want to be part of Recordly’s story? We are constantly looking for Data Engineer and Data Architects to join our kick-ass bunch of data troops! Now we also have a unique opening in sales. Read more about us and apply👇