As a company scales it naturally becomes less of what it once was. This is simultaneously necessary yet avoided by most, which can create a lot of internal tension and even strife if left unchecked.
You see, the business must evolve and change if it is to survive. This is by design and, if done intentionally and wisely, will allow the team and the business to continue growing the compounding interest of your principal investments while pruning and shedding any weight, drag, or friction that the organization naturally creates while growing.
In other words, as it evolves and grows and morphs into its next version of itself the folks on the team may experience the stages of grief as a natural consequence of these changes.
I had never thought of this dynamic until my colleague brought it up in a chat:
In a way, I think of company growth as going through the stages of grief, even though there is overall excitement for growth, there are things lost along the way, often the sense of closeness and knowing everything about everyone.
A lightbulb moment for me, without question.
An organization’s ability to work through the stages of grief, independently and corporately, is an important thing to not only recognize but to explicitly call-out by name.
Meaning, as a leader you must allow the necessary time for folks to filter and walk through their own process as things change within the business and provide a healthy and safe environment for folks to express their feelings, their fears, and their insecurities.
This is especially true when a major event happens, like a downturn in the market or business that results in a layoff or if a founder resigns or if someone within the organization suddenly dies and the team goes through shock and into mourning.
In smaller, startup teams, you can work through it with a hands-on approach but as the team(s) get bigger, you’ll have to find ways to scale grief or rather, the organization’s ability to handle grief at scale.
Again, I had never really thought about this dynamic until we’ve had to walk through it ourselves with our small team. I want to marinate on this for a while because I think it’s an important thing to consider, especially before it’s necessary.