Of course, I started from scratch, as most started in the early 1990s (although I would find out later that a minority had stolen the start… and the state…, but about that another time…). But this is not the subject in the following.
In 2008 we were a company working in the technological field, more precisely in vacuum technology and automation for electricity and gas distribution networks, with approximately 50 employees and less than 10 million euros turnover. I still call it the post-romantic period of the company’s development, which was already 15 years old and had become a well-known player in the field of activity. Then happened the biggest development in the history (so far) of the company and two years later we had over 600 employees and over 30 million euros turnover. Everything in two years…
Today, 12 years later we are about 1,500 and yes, although we are 2.5 times more than in 2010, the growth has occurred in stages over the 12 years.
I would like to share here about my experience as a man who has managed this growth, with successes and failures, and especially about how the relationships between me and my colleagues have changed, between them and the influence that all this has on them. they had on me. It is of course impossible to capture in a few hundred seconds everything that motivated me, provoked and even shook me in this fantastic journey, so I will start by concluding: now, after 12 years of transformation from a small company to a corporation I also understand and learn, I start to discover and I think the second time I would do better…
Organizations are a communication network and the way communication takes place establishes the organizational context, ie exactly the most important thing for its efficiency. An organization of 50 people communicates easily, motivates itself easily and each member of it feels directly and deeply responsible for the results. On the other hand, the results in an organization of 50-100 people are easy to see and impossible to dilute. The rules are few and firm, everyone knows when he was wrong and when he did right. Self-motivation is widespread and personal examples, which lead to the correction of others, exposed to all.
By comparison, an organization of over 1,000 people works completely differently. Its context is no longer clear from the activity, the inertia is high and communication is difficult. The results can become vague and the responsibility for them even more vague. Motivation needs elaborate mechanisms and the set of rules plays a decisive role in the sense that their assimilation becomes a rigorous and continuous process. Personal example pushes to areas, of performance or non-performance, unconnected to the rest of the organization and can lead to tensions. Waves of growth in the number of employees create segregation and distinct habits. Tracking and control mechanisms as well as planning mechanisms increase exponentially in importance and put enormous pressure on management. The team acquires a different meaning, and its management needs to be professionalized.
Another aspect that I would bring up is the external context in which this development took place. I would not like to insist on it, being one of the things on which the capacity of influence of the organization is extremely small. Of course, there are countless companies with over 1,000 employees in Romania, but as we see less and less companies born in our country and even fewer entrepreneurs and very few in the field of industry.
Corporations from abroad have benefited from the experience of the group they come from, from their experience of expansion. Romanian entrepreneurial companies, lacking experience and rules, have adapted and tried to copy in an aggressive and unstable external environment. Developing in an environment where the only predictable thing was the lack of predictability, large companies become an easy target for competition, for exacerbating their mistakes and for a total fiscal and legal environment against stability and growth. This is the context of the last 30 years in the Romanian business environment!
But all these external difficulties and pressures do not compare to the lack of experience of entrepreneurs in managing growth! Probably the most powerful “killer” of entrepreneurial business raised above a certain level is represented by exactly this fact. Entrepreneurs can manage risk much better than anyone, steep growth as well, but they have major problems in managing stability, consolidation, reduction. I love entrepreneurs and it is obvious why and I think that without them the world could not exist in the developed and safe form in which it presents itself today.
However, Romanian entrepreneurs did not benefit from a history and experience of a liberal society, they rarely had time for schools and even then, let’s not forget that it takes three elements to perform: knowledge, attitude and experience. If in the first two chapters one could obtain and educate, the experience develops strictly from repetition.
Of course, the solution may be professional management, which many have tried, but what do you do when most of those with high performance and proven in this category are taken by corporations and sent to do management in other parts of the globe, and the rest leave alone …
In the context presented above, my personal experience has shown me that if there is one thing that is of the utmost importance to business owners who run their company, it is the relationship with people!
There are three elements that make this relationship transform the organization and help it overcome the challenges already mentioned:
In the context of a large organization, trust between people decreases and trust-based ties between them suffer. This also affects the trust they have in the organization as a whole. Trust in people on the part of management suffers and creates either too strict systems or a lack of control, losing its objectivity due to the lack of information mainly. The lack of a strong and proven brand, as long as corporations benefit, leads to doubt and stress. The number of new people and the fluctuation of staff bring circumspection and internal competition into its unproductive form.
The results and their measure can become a problem and their awareness at the level of each individual difficult, so a large organization will have to continuously and non-discriminatory find the right methods of motivation. They will not only stop at systems of indicators and bonuses, people need to understand the vision they belong to and the deep goals as well as the social role of the organization. Communication plays an extremely important role in this case and, although most companies focus on external communication, towards the customer, in a large organization internal communication needs strong support from top management.
Feedback and evaluation are essential elements in large organizations where achieving the result can be too sequential and achieving intermediate goals can satisfy staff in the absence of achieving their major goal. In addition to the evaluation based on indicators, the management staff mainly needs feedback and evaluation from superiors in the idea of aligning the activity and the results obtained with the role in achieving the highest objectives of the company.
Note that in none of the three aspects mentioned above do I talk about operations, those activities that attract the most attention from management. Of course, I do not try to diminish their importance, without forgetting that operations are a consequence of the intersection of two plans: one of properly motivated employees, properly assessed working in a trust-based context and the other of a sound system of procedures. correctly, implemented without compromise and firmly pursued.
How good it would have been for these things to be clear to me in 2008, but what is even more important is that they are so clear to me now, that I have learned and continue to learn. The most important thing learned from this experience is related to the sin of arrogance, in which successes from the past base an unjustified trust in future decisions. Circumspection and reserve have their role, just as self-confidence has, the difference appears when we know how to use one or the other.
Article published in Cariere Magazine.