Advice for a growing company with an overwhelmed team

Editor’s Word: Every week Maynard Webb, former CEO of LiveOps and the previous COO of eBay, presents candid, sensible, and generally stunning recommendation to entrepreneurs and founders. To submit a query, write to Webb at [email protected]

Q. Now we have new prospects and new individuals and now that is the largest company most of us have ever labored for. Issues are nice for the enterprise however I’m feeling overwhelmed, as is the team. What ought to I do?

–CEO making an attempt to maintain up


Expensive CEO,

I don’t need to sound harsh, however what it’s a must to do is get used to it! It doesn’t matter if you happen to have been 12 individuals final yr and 300 individuals this yr as a result of subsequent yr you’ll want to be 1,000 individuals. 

At one level, eBay stopped taking new prospects for months as a result of it didn’t assume it may deal with offering the service to extra individuals. That was an alternative misplaced. One other time a portfolio company advised me there was a lot demand they have been shutting off including new customers. I assumed I heard incorrectly. Limiting your progress on this approach shouldn’t be the suitable reply. 

It’s superb that there’s demand for your product and buyer progress. Now it’s a must to determine the best way to sustain—and actually, it’s a must to concentrate on the best way to get forward. Typically which means taking a step again or going gradual so you’ll be able to finally go quick. What I imply by that’s taking the time proper now to determine a technique and create a plan. 

All of us can really feel overwhelmed at instances. However we are able to’t keep there. The reply is discovering a path to get higher. What are the issues you are able to do that may allow your progress and cut back you from feeling overwhelmed? 

First, I like to recommend you determine the place any bottlenecks are, or the place issues are beginning to break and why. Are you able to repair it with individuals or with course of? You could make some adjustments to make issues movement. 

Scaling is less complicated than constructing a company from nothing. It might profit you so as to add the suitable instruments. I like to recommend using a framework to evaluate the place you’re. A framework is about up by business individuals who have collaborated and located a approach and use a information. There are numerous instruments and methodologies. We used to tout Kanban, Key Efficiency Indicators (KPIs), and Goal and Key Outcomes (OKRs). I personally use Functionality Maturity Mannequin (CMM). Salesforce makes use of is personal system known as V2MOM. What issues shouldn’t be which device you utilize, however that you simply implement a course of that can assist you take a look at the company, see the place you’re, and decide the place you must be. 


What’s holding issues again? Are you holding anybody up from going as quick as they’ll go? Have you ever framed the rules and values sufficient to so that individuals know what to do? Are there people who find themselves doing rather well and who can do extra? One of many solutions to enabling progress is perhaps hiring further individuals. However keep in mind that recruiting and onboarding provides complexity, so you must plan for this.

When you don’t have the funds for, however you might have demand, it’s possible you’ll have to fundraise. This can add some short-term ache however will finally be a long-term acquire. 

Additionally, keep in mind that the suitable angle goes a great distance. It’s essential to have the team method all the pieces with an air of marvel. You need to instill a tradition through which individuals ask, “how can I?” I’d say, “I’m not asking you to do one thing unattainable, but when everybody had identical the identical state of affairs and identical {dollars}, how may we guarantee no person else can be higher?” Set up expectations to at all times get higher and assist individuals change their mindset. Are individuals complaining? If that’s the case, create a discussion board to hear, after which activity them with fixing it. Having them assist establish what’s incorrect and assigning them a position in fixing it’ll assist issues get completed quicker. 

While you make progress have a good time it and look across the bend and see what’s subsequent. Think about what is going to occur the following quarter or subsequent yr. With this type of ahead pondering you gained’t be dealing with incoming day-after-day. When you anticipate what is going to come and have a plan, it feels higher.

I do know you’re working onerous and feeling stress. However let’s put this in context. Most work is difficult. However if you find yourself growing it’s also energizing. It is extremely seldom that you simply get stasis. It isn’t typically within the lifetime of a profitable company that issues are “okay” and keep okay. Every thing is at all times altering, and it’s essential to at all times be responding. 

The actual fact is that challenges get tougher as you turn into extra profitable. The extra you develop, the extra friction you introduce. Corporations which are growing are at all times shocked to be taught that large corporations are at all times grappling with challenges at scale. In fact they’re! They should onboard tons of individuals and purchase new corporations. Even corporations that appear to be giants nonetheless have heavy lifting to do. No matter measurement there are at all times challenges. It’s by no means straightforward. However it may be fulfilling and enjoyable.