Growth as a by-product of long-term vision
The Denver business community has been under a glaring spotlight the last few years, a trend I don’t see slowing down anytime soon. Between tech, healthcare, financial services, cannabis and the many other industries thriving in The Centennial State, the economic outlook is bright in these parts.
My team and I are no strangers to hypergrowth ourselves here at Embark, as both our headcount and footprint continue to expand at a rapid, consistent clip. Thankfully, we’ve avoided most of the potholes and detours many organizations experience during such intense growth phases.
Therefore, I want to share some of the lessons my team and I have lived by for over a decade now, in hopes they will help steer Denver’s booming business community toward healthy, sustainable growth.
Maintain a long-term vision
It’s not exactly earth-shattering to say too many business leaders get caught up in short-term KPIs to the point where it distorts their long-term perspective. As obvious as it might seem to a bystander, rapidly growing companies continue to ensnare themselves in avoidable webs.
I understand how alluring the adrenaline rush of hypergrowth can be, particularly for startups that seem to hit the ground sprinting at full speed. However, there are consequences for growth myopia, and once those consequences take root, they can quickly cast a sun-blocking shadow over every facet of operations.
That said, I’m not espousing a Tortoise and the Hare approach, either. There’s nothing wrong with pinning your ears back and capturing market share as quickly as you can, so long as you don’t lose sight of your long-term vision and the fundamentals that will get you there. I’d recommend starting with your people and a management style focused on whole human development.
Strategize around whole human development
A person’s work life doesn’t exist in a vacuum. In fact, while traditional, old-fashioned management styles assumed compartmentalizing work lives and home lives was not only possible but beneficial, I respectfully disagree.
Obviously, when a person is dealing with a stressful situation at home, it’s going to impact their work in some way. Thus, trying to build walls between the different aspects of a person’s life is ultimately futile and, in many cases, does more harm than good.
The alternative is embracing a whole-human approach to management and development, one that accounts for the entire person — physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, social and professional. This way, you’re managing with a more holistic, integrative strategy that emphasizes health and satisfaction across everything that constitutes a person’s life.
At Embark, much of this revolves around a robust work-life integration, where there’s no concrete distinction between those work and home lives. In conjunction with active mentorship programs, health wellness programs, and a dynamic, value-driven company culture, our people are satisfied, fulfilled and always reaching for excellence.
Now, I understand this might seem like an advertisement for Embark’s HR department rather than insights on growth. However, I’m using Embark as an example of how essential your people are during a startup or high-growth phase.
Simply put, if you treat your people well, they will respond with loyalty and excellence. On the flip side, if you look at your staff as a commodity, you’re far more likely to experience talent and knowledge gaps when you can least afford them.
Of course, it’s not just your people who fuel all of that growth. Customers, strategic alliances and other peer groups are similarly essential to your success. Unfortunately, as illogical as it might sound, those relationships are often the first to erode when short-term KPIs leave management a bit starstruck.
Again using my team as an example, another pillar we focus on is hospitality. We want everyone who enters our sphere, particularly clients and partnerships, to take note of how unique and refreshing it is to work with our firm. In other words, as tempting as it might be to cut costs and drive profitability to attract capital, it should never take precedence over your ability to leave smiles on people’s faces.
Put another way, periods of hypergrowth are when you want to expand your customer service abilities, nurture and grow your alliances and develop the hospitality skills that distinguish you from the competition. And while these points might seem obvious, they’re often contrarian to startup and growth culture, even in this day and age when we’ve all seen so many once-promising companies just fizzle away.
The bottom line: Don’t let short-term success, no matter how gaudy the metrics might be, block you from your long-term vision. By embracing straightforward concepts like whole-human development and hospitality, we’ve managed to thrive during hypergrowth at Embark and I know you can do the same.
To read the original article from Denver Business Journal, click here