This article is a translation of a public post made by Tomasz Karwatka, Tomasz is Co-Founder of Divante (eCommerce Technology Company) 350+ ppl strong company with double-digit growth and double-digit EBITDA. Sold to Cloudflight in 2021.
Post translation and publication done with the author’s permission.
Probably the biggest challenge is when the development of a company and the development of a given employee stop going hand in hand. In growing businesses, with the constantly changing structure and scope of competencies, this unfortunately happens often.
In my opinion, around 80% of the mistakes in the boss-employee relationship is the responsibility of the boss. If an employee does much more of these mistakes, then it is the boss’s mistake is that he didn’t let him go.
What I was doing wrong during my first years of managing people:
1) Giving maximum freedom in the beginning. For a few it was great but for most it was a bit scary. On the other hand, if someone was not doing great from the beginning, it forced me to reduce the amount of freedom, which of course had very bad effects. You can quickly increase the scope of responsibility, but it’s better to start with caution.
2) Too small pressure to fit cultural into the company. Hiring people who are super meritorious but didn’t feel great in the culture we’ve built. They couldn’t spread their wings.
3) Discussing things not up for discussion. Certain decisions in certain moments of business development should be taken by the CEO. I’ve always cared about engaging people in the decision, but I shouldn’t have opened discussions on topics not open for discussion. It led me to very stressful situations, when I agreed to somethings that were the result of a discussion, but did not sit right with me.
4) The company is the founder, and the founder must feel great about it. Competence, delegation, downward initiative – it’s all great. On the other hand, you have to remember that in the end it’s your business and you’re supposed to feel great about it. Founder’s slow burning out will cause problems for the company. Been here for a while. This is painful for the organization to get twisted.
5) Too quick to promote people into managers without supporting their path. These people later start hiring, and their subordinates often have a really hard time with a new boss learning to be a boss. Supporting young managers is insanely important, I understood that a bit too late.
Of course, in the wise management books, written in peace times, everything is nicely laid out. Employees leave work satisfied and managers only makes wise and rational decisions.
Unfortunately, from my experience, life is often more complicated. Few people write about mistakes, it only strengthens the belief that “I’m an idiot”. Entrepreneur – you are not a fool, you make a lot of mistakes because you do a lot of things the first time. If you think your employees don’t have a slight understanding and kindness, to understand this fact, it’s worth talking to them. From the position – hey, I’m also learning here. It helped me a lot but it wasn’t easy.