Whilst flitting between a flurry of meetings lately, the issues of growing a company have been playing on my mind. Whether you’re selecting which new business pitch to opt for, attempting to prioritise a hectic diary or thinking about enlisting new staff, defining and sustaining a true corporate culture is as essential as it is difficult.
Arthur Schopenhauer, that eminently quotable German, once said ‘We forfeit two thirds of ourselves in order to be like other people.’ In the past, I’ve occasionally prioritised the need to get the job over the passion for it. I’ve let myself and what I do be defined by what a client wants, rather than what my heart (and my more hard-bitten instincts) tell me I should be doing.
If you’re pitching without passion, it’s more likely than not a question of too many mouths to feed: unchecked growth leads to serious issues. In growing your business with limitless tenacity, the likelihood is that you’ll fall victim to the 33 and 1/3rd factor: some unalterable law of the universe dictates that, left unfiltered, your employees will appear in three types, in equal proportion.
The first 3rd are the stars, the challengers, those who grow the business with their unstoppable thinking and enthusiasm. The second are the support staff, the dependables and hard workers without whom the company could not continue day to day. Both of these are necessary components in the agency vehicle, whether it’s a slick ad world Beemer or a dependable in-house people carrier. Managing the ratio between them is the secret of a great corporate culture.
The last 3rd are the hangers on, drifting through the day like fugitives clinging onto the sides of a train, only without the diligence or sense of opportunity. The overlarge organisation, or the agency which cannot fully define itself and stick to that definition, attracts an inordinate number of these energy sappers. Without a firm culture to define them against, it gets harder to keep them away.
If you’re questing after true efficiency, you won’t find it by increasing your workforce. Take the time to define the way you work now and establish the way you want it to change. Grow slowly and strategically, and you’ll be left with far fewer hangers on, and far less air resistance as you travel.