How to handle a great situation?
February 8, 2011 8:50 PM   Subscribe

What do you wish you'd known before your job/company began to seriously take-off?

I've been around the working world block a time or two. I know what failing or stagnant jobs/companies look and feel like. Now I've landed in a place that is growing and changing REALLY fast, in a good way. It's a place that has provoked me into growing and learning in ways I didn't expect, also in a good way.

Still, it occurs to me I have zero experience with this kind of trajectory, and don't know anyone who really has, either. I know I can't stay here forever, that it will all turn to suck/regress to the mean, eventually.

So, what should I be doing while the going's still good?
posted by NoRelationToLea to Work & Money (4 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I wish I'd realized that there are some people who are good in small, wild west, new frontier, we're makin' the rules up as we go, hold on, we're going into high gear organizations, who absolutely crumble when it comes time to transition into a more stable organization, with more guidelines and standardization. There are different strategies and different environments for start ups and 'mid sized' organizations, and different people who thrive in each. Part of the difficulty can be when the new policies and strategies that start to come in (from HR guidelines to how we have meetings) start chaffing the pioneers. Part of the difference is the new people who start showing up, and how they influence the group.

So it's watching out for the culture change, because an organization of 6 is different than an organization for 60 or 600. It's worth paying attention to what changes and how people respond, because it's a unique time, and an experience that I think you only learn if you go through it yourself. But if you get to glimpse it, you learn something valuable about the world of work and change, that every leader should know.
posted by anitanita at 9:46 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Anitanita that is a very wise comment. I agree 100%. NoRelationToLea, I suggest you make a promise to yourself that when you wake up one morning and you no longer feel excited about the things you feel excited about today, you start to think about moving on. It's a very personal question and ultimately you need to be clear on what you expect from the role and have the fortitude to speak up when it no longer fits your needs.

In my case I promised myself that the day I no longer woke up "jazzed" about working at the ad agency I was a founding team member of - that I was no longer willing to spend the late nights or to give my absolute best, that I should quit.

I quit the next day after a wild 5 year ride and haven't looked back since. That was in 2007.
posted by drewgillson at 2:12 AM on February 9, 2011

Seconding anitanita as well. There's growing and there's operating and those are two different skillsets.
Here's some other lessons learned in no particular order in addition to anitanita's

* Have fun on the way up!
* Repeating sage advice given to me: "Growth hides a lot of sins". Meaning that departments can get away with things in a ballooning revenue environment that would never ever happen in a constant revenue environment.
* You should see personal advancement commensurate with the organizational growth. If not, that should be a warning sign
* Have fun on the way up! Growth creates a lot of positive energy
* Fiefdoms and turf battles will often escalate proportionally to the growth, with the bottom line being less of an issue, department size (rather than department contribution) can tend to become an indicator of managerial worth.
* The growth can't last forever, have a personal strategy for dealing with that eventuality
* Growth can make your company a takeover target, have a personal strategy for that as well (i.e., make sure you know what happens to you in the event of a takeover ... google "Change in control clause")
* Did I mention to enjoy it while it lasts?
posted by forforf at 12:17 PM on February 9, 2011

Bullet 5 is confusing to read. I meant that with growth, some department managers measure themselves by department size rather than impact to the bottom line.
posted by forforf at 12:19 PM on February 9, 2011

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