The Paradox Of Growth

By Chip Wilson

A young fast growing company will have many young, core, passionate employees with a strong love for the company culture.

As the company grows the need to bring in more experienced people who “have been there” seems inevitable and prudent. The question is: does bringing in “professionals” make the company better?  The professionals are experts at interviews and know what the interviewee is looking for and how to sell themselves. They can easily fake it to get the job.

Professionals who have survived larger company politics are savvy in the Machaevellian ways of obtaining and maintaining power. They may also have a propensity to keep power by undermining or not developing a successor. Professionals know how to fake culture while internally not accepting that the culture is for them.

But great professionals steer a fledgling company away from common mistakes caused by growth. They bring in proactive business processes before the company needs them.

Now comes the big problem. A company grows and needs manpower. New professionals may need up to 40% more salary than existing employees as incentive to pull them from their existing job and city.

This creates an imbalance and a sense of unfairness among core employees. The core employees wait to see if the new employees are worth 40% more. The newly hired professionals are never worth 40% more because they don’t know the company as well as the core employees. Professionals are older and often come with a set unconscious attitude of “I know more than you”.

Existing employees are valuable because they are the cultural glue with the institutional knowledge that can have a company be profitable for decades.  The core employees know more than anyone what the mechanisms of making profit are. A great professional knows what the profits could be, with the right mentoring.

The best professionals are those who mentor and develop the core employees to be the next set of company managers. These professionals have little ego and are team players. My observation is these great professionals are best at managing down but don’t know how to manage up.

Unfortunately large company’s provide accolades for achievement to those who are good at marketing themselves upwards to the CEO or the board. My experience is the best employees are too busy being phenomenal at their job to spend what is on their mind “frivolous” time being fake and “looking good” for the wrong reasons.