Team Growing Pains and How to Keep Employees Happy While Your Small Business Grows

In the early days of my tech startup, Zdi, we were a small, tight-knit group that loved to work and hang out with each other. Because the team was small, just a few people to start, spending time each day with individual employees was easy, and something we made a point to do (plus we enjoyed it).

As the company grew, there became less and less time to spend with each employee, and out of necessity, things began to change. Time previously spent speaking directly with employees and doing activities as an entire team on a regular basis shifted to new responsibilities and onboarding and training incoming staff.

Tremendous growth was always our intention when starting the business, and implementing standard practices — like operational processes, HR procedures, and more — was needed. To grow efficiently, we had to make sacrifices, and these sacrifices, along with change, weren’t always received well by everyone.

Every thriving company goes through similar growing pains. New processes disrupt what’s so far been established as the corporate culture of the startup. An employee who is used to working directly with the CEO 20-30 minutes a day may not adjust well to having no one-on-one time at all, nor will employees who have been there since the beginning enjoy getting emails about new rules and regulations they will be expected to follow.

So what can be done to keep good employees happy without avoiding changes that will help foster growth and impact the company’s culture?

Think of your favorite book, movie, or TV show. Even after reading or watching it dozens of times, you’re likely to discover new things. One person is also likely to interpret many of the situations and events in these books, movies, or television shows differently from another. The author or director, however, has the opportunity to make important events clear to the audience.

The AudienceIn a small business, this clarification duty falls on the founder or leadership team. It’s their job to communicate important details to their staff to avoid miscommunication that leads to conflict and turnover.

People look to you for information, so you need to communicate your vision and provide updates to employees. They need to know why things are changing and how they fit into your plans. They need to know that just because there aren’t cookouts anymore or just because you can’t have daily (or weekly) meetings with them that you haven’t forgotten about them.

If those weekly meetings are both important to employees and productive, empower the next layer of management to plan and host them. If employees don’t seem to be on board with a change, hold a meeting or a Q&A session to explain the changes and answer their questions. Employees can’t read your mind and don’t always know the long-term vision of the company — you have to communicate it to them!

How this situation is approached will determine the success of your business in recruiting and retaining talent, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Find ways to improve the way you communicate changes to your team, and that will affect the communications throughout your entire business.

TIPSo as your company grows and changes, remember that implementing processes for the better isn’t “selling out” or “going corporate.” It’s a positive sign of growth both internally and externally to accomplish goals and better serve customers and employees — but this message has to be communicated.

Need help navigating growth and change? We can help! Contact Straza Consulting today for a free session to see how we can help your small business overcome these types of hurdles.

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