Heidi Zak

@heidizaks

4 Tips To Quickly Scale A Passionate Startup Team

My team hired over 200 people last year. It’s amazing to see that type of growth after years of hard work and a few recruitment blunders.

But scaling this quickly does present some challenges.

When you have ten people working together in an office, it’s pretty simple to do a company update every quarter. You get everyone around a table and just talk about what’s going on, what the mission is, how to carry out the strategy. As you grow, you’ll find that your ability to casually communicate diminishes.

But you can maintain the vision and passion of your original team by knowing it’s never too early to start figuring out your team communication and scaling strategy.

You might have three employees now, but if all goes well, you may have 300 sooner than you think.

Here’s some advice for how to handle it:

1. Hire people who are passionate about your brand and your values.

Decide what your company values are, and then hire based on them.

This develops a consistency throughout the company. Each person may have their own unique personalities and quirks, but everyone holds the same values.

You have to build a solid foundation if you want to scale your team successfully.

At ThirdLove, we want people to be passionate about the company, what we’re building, and how we have the opportunity to impact millions of women — every single day. We want potential employees to come to us, not the other way around.

Most of the people we hire were our customers before they joined the team. Even the men we interview often know about us because their wives, girlfriends, or friends love our brand.

It’s important to have that connection, because it makes it easier for people to join and jump right in when they’re familiar with the product and the experience.

More than anything, if you want to create a passionate team, you need individuals who connect with and understand your company’s mission.

2. Keep leadership on the same page.

Once you grow to a certain size, it’s no longer just the founder’s job to expound on the strategy and the mission.

Every leader of every team has to be able to deliver that strategic vision and make sure their team executes on it.

We have about eight total directors and VPs at ThirdLove. And six months ago, I realized that they weren’t communicating as well as in the past. As we scaled, our departments had become siloed.

It was really a pivotal moment for me. I realized that these senior leaders needed to be in the room together for a day. So, we brought everyone together for an executive offsite, and that helped tremendously.

We’ve also started holding bi-weekly meetings for this team. In those meetings, we go around the table and hear from everyone — what they’re working on, what their challenges are, whether they have any pressing issues.

The meetings keep everyone aligned on our high-level vision and help us plan how we’re going to communicate it to the rest of the team.

3. Be open to changing your process.

As your company grows, you’ll notice that your standard process for communicating and getting things done stops working.

Just over a year ago at ThirdLove, if you needed something creative — an image for an ad or an email template — you’d just walk over to the visual designer and collaborate on it. There was no tracking, no project management, no creative briefing or prioritization.

And that works when you’re 30 people strong. Everyone already knows what the priorities are. They don’t need a creative brief.

Flash forward a year, and suddenly there are 250 people in the office.

Those casual, organic processes don’t work anymore. The poor visual designer has 10 people tapping her on the shoulder every day needing content, and 30 emails in her inbox about future projects. Now, creative briefs and spreadsheets aren’t a hassle; they’re a necessity.

When you scale, your company changes. And your processes have to change along with it.

Otherwise, you lose your ability to communicate effectively and be efficient.

4. Communicate every day.

Scaling your team requires constant communication of the company’s values, priorities, and vision.

It’s not a one-off event. It’s not a quarterly newsletter.

Think of it like flossing. No one gets psyched to floss every night, but we do it because we know it’s the right thing to do. We also know it’s only effective if we do it every day.

Communicating values isn’t always fun or exciting, but it’s necessary. If you don’t get into a cadence and do it habitually, you never will.

So, start flossing. Start figuring out the processes for how you’re going to scale your team and keep that passion alive.

Your startup’s success (and health) down the road depends on it.

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