Scaling a startup involves a lot of hiring. If you’re doing it right, you’re hiring intelligent, experienced, independent, and strong-willed people. If you are doing it right, many of your current people (including you) will be giving up control to those new people.
If you’re not careful, somewhere in the transition of power things quickly turn into a third-world civil war.
Intelligent, experienced, independent, and strong-willed people insult each other, ignore each other, step on each other’s toes, and violate each others’ expectations – often unwittingly.
The path of wisdom in startup scaling is a path of peacemaking. You’ve got to make the peace for these people, and you have to be able to foot the bill for that peace at your own expense. You will have to give up temporary wins or triumphs for long-term harmony, and you’ll have to swallow your pride dozens of times over.
Scaling time is not the time to be an “alpha” in your startup tribe. It’s the time to be the wise old chief. As someone with more experience in the company, it’s your job to help newer team members work together instead of fighting each other.
You’ll only find the strength to do this well if you can remember what the point of your company is.
Is it your self-aggrandizement? Is it sheltering your ego, filling your pocket, or getting a pat on the back from your boss? Impressing your coworkers or clients?
If you say “yes” to any of those, it can be tempting to let relationships crash and burn while you step into the spotlight.
The answer to all of these should be “no.” These goals are much too easy, and they’re much too small. What about achieving what your company has set out to do? Transforming the automotive industry, providing clean drinking water to the world, supplying energy to hospitals, building city skylines?
If your company isn’t contributing enough value for its success to be an end in itself, you might be working at the wrong place or looking at your work the wrong way.
But if your company’s “point” or mission is something worth doing, ask yourself whether peace between your coworkers the best way to get there. There will be times when you do have to pick battles, but they will be rare. If you have the ability to make it work between people, you will be moving the ball forward.