10 reasons your people are just like so over your scaling

05/08/2015

We recently sent out a survey about scaling organisations and 83 of you responded. Thanks very much to all those who took part! This is a great response and it made us realise we really hit a nerve in our community with this question. If you missed out the first time, you still can still contribute to our results over here.

We asked:

Have you ever left an organisation because of the changes that have come with scaling?

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  • 54% of people we asked answered yes.
  • 61.4% of people also said their preferred organisational size is different from the organisation they currently work in.

From this result, we have concluded that half of your employees may leave if your company scales. For example, if you have a company of 100 people that you want to grow to 200 people, you may need to hire ~150 people to get there. Perhaps you could invest that extra energy, time and money into building and supporting your company culture?

This week at Agile Manchester, Minimum Viable Book co-author Emily gave a buzzfeed-style lightening talk with 10 of the most commonly held responses to our survey.

We’ll be publishing the context and the full results of our survey in a new edition of the Minimum Viable Book soon, but in the mean time, here are 10 reasons why your people are like so over your scaling. I hope you enjoy them – and the painstakingly chosen gifs :).

1. They focused on managing spreadsheets rather than meaningful work

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People dislike the overhead of meetings and bureaucracy, and these are common features of larger organisations. Most people hate spreadsheets. They just want to do meaningful work rather than waste time reporting on their work.

2. The organisation became more ‘corporate’ as it grew which didn’t suit me

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People like the family feeling, knowing everyone and the ease of collaboration that comes with smaller organisations.

3. Lack of managerial experience leading to a lack of support

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Fast-growing organisations were thought to have less support for their staff as management were also learning how to deal with the growth themselves. On the flip side, larger companies can offer better benefits to their people as they have more resources available.

4. Mediocre people were hired. It became a game of paying the bills, not taking risks


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People felt growth sometimes led to rapid hiring and were frustrated that people they didn’t respect were hired. Money was seen as the focus instead of making interesting things. The flip side in the client services sector is that smaller organisations don’t have the clout to attract the bigger clients, which can lead to fewer options for personal career development.

5. People feeling like they are working against each other rather than with each other. Silos.

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Smaller organisations generally have flatter structures and less hierarchy, which was seen as a bonus. Smaller, however, can also mean over-worked people.

6. Being pulled in two directions by two (back-stabbing) bosses

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Smaller organisations were thought to have less politics. Although it was also suggested that a small conflict in a small company could affect the whole team more dramatically.

7. Big companies = generally more bureaucracy, sign-off points and politics which can make it harder to do something

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HR functions were cited a few times as an indicator of bureaucracy and the inability to ‘just get things done’. HR did not get good press in the answers in general (sorry HR people).

8. Loss of focus and control

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Smaller organisations were said to have a clearer shared vision. Larger companies find it harder to keep everyone aligned.

9. The loss of original culture, and a new obsession on the bottom line

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Our survey tells us culture was a big factor as companies grew. People felt the culture changed in large-scaling companies and was not what they originally signed up for, while the focus shifted from people to money. In much smaller organisations however, our respondents felt they were likely to meet less people, so they had a higher probability of not liking the people they work with.

10. The company became less focused, more chaotic and lazy

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If there isn’t good leadership and alignment, it appeared to be easier to hide. People said they get lazy and get away with it.