No Longer CEO-Centric: Time to Start Letting Go

Hang on to your sanity, your world just shifted.

The dynamic that occurs when a company moves to Stage 3 with 20 – 34 employees is unlike anything you’ve been through. Up to this point in the company’s history, it has been CEO-centric – YOUR passion, YOUR vision, YOUR blood, sweat and tears have carried the company successfully to this point.

With the addition of employee #20, a strange phenomenon occurs. We liken it to when your preteen, who use to think you walked on water, now thinks you’re dumb and dumber. You are just a few months away from a staff revolution. You’ve felt the subtle change: your employees are a bit harder to manage, they push back more often, and their attitude hits you in the face when you least expect it.

Here’s a hint. Don’t look at them – look at yourself. Your company just hit a wall in how you manage it and it’s you who has to make some changes – quickly.

A couple of critical forces are hitting at the same time. In Stage 1 and Stage 2, a company is CEO-centric. When you move into Stage 3, it becomes Enterprise-centric. It’s too big for you to continue to “wear all the hats”. It’s time to start “passing those hats” around to the incredibly talented people you have hired.

You have also just come through a Wind Tunnel – a chaos zone that requires you to let go of methodologies that no longer work and adapt new ones that do.
Stage 3 has the highest incident of CEO-burnout of any stage of growth and it’s not difficult to understand why. Suddenly you have to start managing, delegating and team building like there was no tomorrow.

The Top 5 Challenges you will face in Stage 3 include:

  1. Need to have better staff buy-in.
  2. Leadership to staff communication gap.
  3. Need for an improved profit design.
  4. Unclear core values throughout the organization.
  5. Company culture is generally resistant to change.

Four out of five of your top challenges center on people issues. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times from other business leaders – the lament that starts with “If I just didn’t have to deal with employees.” Well, now you are living it and need to do something about it.

Want to know how to avoid the “staff revolution?” One word: Communication.
And lots of it. Now. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Next month.

In a workshop the other day, I mentioned that a manager should meet with their direct reports once a week for at least 30 minutes. One participant quickly did the math for their 9 reports: “You want me to spend 4 1/2 hours a week just talking to my direct reports? Who has that kind of time?”

There’s your staff revolution.

Your employees are just as excited about the success of your company as you are. Give them a chance to succeed. As a leader, you have to evaluate your leadership style and ask yourself: is my style hindering or helping the success of this company?

The Five Non-Negotiable Leadership Rules for a Stage 3 company are:

  1. Release control to capable supervisors and then lead them. Create a supervisor team that meets regularly (delegate responsibility and authority).
  2. Create an advanced financial reporting and projection system.
  3. Instil a team-based mindset throughout the company.
  4. Overhaul the business model.
  5. Without fail, clarify and strengthen any and all communication with your employees by:
    • intentionally co-authoring with them the cultural focus of the company and its core values.
    • clearly communicating the goals and direction of the company.

Stage 3 demands that you start letting go and start bringing your key people into the fold. Many companies never make it past Stage 3 – the revolving door starts early. When you hire smart, capable people and they aren’t allowed to be smart or capable, they will leave. Wouldn’t you? Put yourself in their shoes. Tap into the intelligence of every single person in your company.

All of ACT One’s programs are designed to focus on your stage of growth. If you are a Stage 3 company, we can provide you with the top five challenges for your stage of growth. We can get you focused on the “rules of the road” for a company with 20 – 34 employees. And we can help you get ready for the day you add that next employee and surge into the next stage of growth.