From Maker to Manager: When Your Don’t Know Everything Your Partners are Doing

Recently one of my business partners joined my team’s weekly call to explain an HR process we were implementing (he focuses on The Iron Yard’s hiring and staff growth).

I covered a few agenda items before he jumped in, one of them being our implementation of a new Zapier alternative CRM for student admissions.

After the call he reached out to me via chat and said something interesting:

I kept hearing people mention that new CRM tool and realized I knew nothing about it. I had never been to the site or logged in. I was tempted to check it out, but then I reminded myself that it’s a good thing I haven’t. I don’t need to know about it.

When your company and team are small, everyone knows what everyone else is doing on a detailed level. Intimate knowledge of what’s happening in the company is a natural consequence of constant communication and wearing multiple hats.

As your company scales, though, leaders begin to specialize out of necessity. Decisions that used to directly impact the entire company now effect only one team. Before everyone used the same tools, but at scale teams adopt tools that are better suited for their specific jobs.

For some people this can be disenfranchising. Things are just different when you aren’t afforded a 360-degree view because of size and format. Changes like these make your company feel bigger and more process-oriented, not because they are sweeping changes, necessarily, but because of the contrast to the way things used to be.

Many times a narrowed focus results in some sort of anxiety—the realization that you have less control over what’s happening in your company. That’s not always a bad thing. I would guess that for most leaders the uneasiness comes because you care so deeply about what you’ve worked so hard to build.

Ultimately, though, you gain control by giving it away wisely. That’s not an easy process (and is fraught with potential consequences), but a necessary one for fast-growing businesses.

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Practicing the art of bringing guns to a knife fight.

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