Employee Engagement Starts with Better Onboarding

employee engagement onboarding

When the subject of onboarding comes up, I’m reminded of a friend’s recent experience starting fresh at a new company. Let’s call him Steve. On his first day, he attended an all hands meeting where staff were expressing concerns about heavy workloads across various initiatives to upper management.

Throughout the meeting, there was a recurring response: “Steve, the new guy will handle that.”  It got to the point where someone asked, “How many Steve’s did we hire exactly?”

Humor aside, this type of situation isn’t uncommon. A hiring decision is made, but there isn’t much planning done in the interim before their start date. They show up on their first day to either be bombarded with tasks, or left without much to do.

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How One CEO is Scaling Culture in a Growing Tech Startup

How One CEO Is Scaling Culture In A Growing Tech Startup - Leadspace

The term “startup culture” has taken the trip around the block and back again (and again) in recent years. Typically, it conjures up mental images of a few bleary-eyed twenty-somethings huddled in a small room (or garage), beer cans strewn about and a stale sandwich sitting on a plate in the corner. The term is used equally to describe the wonderful aspects of many a tech startup as well as some of the less than glamorous sides of the scene.

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What I’ve Learned In Ten Years as a Bootstrapped Entrepreneur

What I've Learned In Ten Years as a Bootstrapped Entrepreneur

2006 was a memorable year for a lot of reasons. Facebook opened its doors to the general public. Zinedine Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi during the World Cup Final. And for some reason, Americans paid a total of $62 million to watch Snakes on a Plane.

But the most important event for me in 2006 was founding my company, gothamCulture.

Last month marked my company’s ten-year anniversary. And as I reflect upon my journey of bootstrapping and growing a professional services firm, I came to the conclusion that what I’ve learned might benefit other entrepreneurs out there who may be growing their own businesses.

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What Are The Greatest Priorities For Rapidly Growing Companies?

What Are The Greatest Priorities For Rapidly Growing Companies?

Leading a successful, rapidly growing organization can be one of the most thrilling, liberating and stressful things a person can do. Those of us who have taken the plunge into the world of entrepreneurship know, firsthand, that this life is anything but boring.

As I’ve watched my business grow over the years, I’ve often reflected on the sheer number of decisions I made each day and the priorities that had to be juggled in order to stay nimble in the face of tremendous competition. And I’m not alone.

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What Every Founder Needs To Know About Scaling Startup Culture

scaling startup culture

For startups that want to stick around, growth and sustainability are the goals. But growing like Facebook or Twitter is far more difficult in reality. According to the Small Business Administration, only about half of all new businesses even survive to reach their fifth birthday. Only one-third of those make it to the 10-year mark.

Scaling a startup is no small feat. It takes clarity of vision, a feasible business model and a team who’s up to the challenge of operating in an extremely fast paced environment where dynamics change continuously. It also takes guts on the part of the founders and initial team members. These types of people risk a lot by taking a chance on a new startup. The nebulous nature of these situations can be too much for many people to bear.

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Preserving What Make You Great In Times Of Rapid Growth

what makes you great in rapid growth

We’ve all heard stories of meteoric growth from companies like Shake Shack, Uber and Slack. And while many of these stories serve as inspiration for entrepreneurs and leaders at all levels, the reality of navigating a company through rapid growth never plays out as smoothly as these stories would have you believe.

Anyone who’s ever been a part of a rapidly growing organization can tell you that it presents many unique challenges not found in other organizational contexts. These challenges can test the mettle of team members and put mounting pressures on a system that is evolving quickly to try to keep pace with the ever-changing situation.

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5 Signs Your Organization Has Outgrown You

organization outgrown you

Think back to when your child was young. What’s changed as she’s matured? She’s likely swapped naptime for overtime and a dollhouse for a down payment — and she’s grown into a personality all her own.

Like our kids, companies also grow up. Although they may not swap carefree childhoods for adult responsibilities, they still change and mature with time. Growing old with a company is like a relationship: Sometimes, you grow together; other times, you grow apart.

I recently spoke with a friend and mentor, Bruce Eckfeldt, a former Inc. 500 CEO and current entrepreneur, about leaving his former company. Together, we outlined the following five signs that signal that you and your organization have grown apart:

  1. The passion is gone. Do a quick gut check. Are you still jumping out of bed in the morning ready to take on the day, or is your snooze button getting a daily workout? Is your team energized, or does your office share the excitement level of a meat locker? No one can be fired up about a job 24/7, but if you can’t remember the last time you got excited about work, it might be a sign that your job has outgrown you.
  2. You constantly feel “the rub.” One surefire sign that your organization is evolving away from you is “the rub” — the friction between you and day-to-day life in your work environment. Too much frustration with co-workers, vendors, or clients can lead to uncomfortable chafing.
  3. The cylinders aren’t firing like they used to. Do you feel like the behaviors that have always worked for you are no longer hitting the mark? The issue might be turnover, client relationships, or budget, and you can’t shake that feeling of drowning. If the team’s terminology is leaving you behind in meetings or it seems like you have to work twice as hard as you used to just to keep your head above water, you should assess your situation.
  4. Your company is scaling rapidly. As your company matures, you may find that you can’t (or don’t want to) develop the skills you’ll need to lead in the new environment. If you aren’t willing or able to adapt to the new reality, then you’ll experience more problems as the organization continues to demand things that you can’t provide.
  5. A disconnection arises between you and the company. If you wrote a job description for the leader of your company, would you apply for the role? Your business will likely begin to value new skills and devalue old ones over time, particularly when moving out of startup mode — where flexibility and innovation take precedence — to become a more mature organization that’s focused on following established processes. You may feel responsible for leading the organization, but are you still connected to its changing needs? 

How to Hand Over the Reins

Once you know that your company has evolved away from you, you have an important decision to make: You can either sell your company or hand off your leadership role. This process is all about how you want to be remembered in your company’s collective history.

Do you want to be remembered as the boss who stayed beyond his ability to manage effectively, the executive who stopped showing up one day, or the leader who realized his personal limitations and ensured the organization was left in good hands?

First and foremost, you must decide whether your ego can take admitting that the company has evolved to the point where someone with a different skill set could do a better job. Are you the most qualified for the current needs of the role? Are you willing to adapt your leadership style to your changing business?

If you no longer feel like your leadership is what’s best for the company, pass the torch. Find and integrate the right person to lead the company under your guidance. If you have a good talent planning process in place, you may already have replacement options.

Hopefully, you caught the signs early enough that the performance of the organization hadn’t taken a nosedive. Recognizing the changing currents as they happen helps you be more intentional about identifying a successor and integrating her into the organization in a productive way.

Leading a rapidly growing organization is full of high and low points, and it’s never short on challenges. For Bruce, it was less of an “outgrown” situation and more about growing apart: “Being a founder and operator puts unique pressure on your sense of self and ties up your professional and personal identity in that of the company. For me, I felt like I was fighting to get the organization to go in the direction I wanted to go in personally.”

I realized fairly early on that in order to be most effective over the long term, I would have to continuously evaluate the needs of my organization and adapt my behaviors. This required me to develop new skills over time and be very intentional about my willingness to change to be of service to my team.

If you’re giving your organization everything you have and still sense that it has evolved beyond you, you owe it to yourself and your company to consider taking action.


This article originally appeared on Forbes