The Speedy Scale-Up

Someone recently reached out to me with the following query and I thought it would make good blog fodder since I haven’t blogged in ages.

Their Question:

I’m currently in the throes of planning for 2022 and I’ve hit a few roadblocks on items I haven’t had to do before:
1- Hiring people, but not having enough applicants to the role (seems to be a widespread issue though)
2- Thinking ahead to what infrastructure I need to have in place to grow from 5 >10 >15 >20 over the next year

My Answer:

Yes #1 is a widespread issue right now!

I am the Global Head of CX at Humio. Before Humio, I built out support and success at Nylas, and before that I did the same at Shortcut (fka Clubhouse).

From my humble experience, these are all great things to be thinking about ahead of time!

Hmmm, here is what I’d say just off the top of my head.

  • Build out your org chart ahead of time and hire good deputies before you hire too many ICs.
  • Give the deputies some headcount out of the gate so they can build their own team.
  • Promote the strong ICs to managers and be ready to coach them (and/or have the deputies coach them).
  • Focus on having your direct reports be no more than Bezos’s 2-pizza box team.
  • Plan to do skip levels at least once quarterly so the people that report to your directs can give you the view from where they are sitting. It really helps with overall team cohesion — especially as you start to manage managers — and it gives people a view of what is coming down the pipe from senior leadership and/or the board or investors.
  • Keep in mind that you still need time to manage up to leadership. So delegate, delegate, delegate so you have time to carry out all the random little tasks that will pop up outta nowhere (because Tha Leaders always come into your DMs with that stuff!)

The other thing I didn’t mention that comes to mind now is this:

  • Take breaks and time off! If your company has unlimited vacation, really just treat yourself to days off randomly when you need them or even before you really need them. You will hopefully come back better off for it. And if you’ve delegated like I told you too, you won’t come back to a mountain of work.
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