Growth Stages Operations Team

Stage 5 – Alignment, integration: This growth stage is all about synergy

Stage 5 Company (58-95 employees)

As a Stage 5 company, you have 58 – 95 employees. The company is beginning to align itself: sales and marketing understands and is involved with product development; and customer service is tied into every aspect of your operation.

As the CEO, you are operating in a proactive, systematic approach instead of a reactive, scattered approach. You have trained and/or hired qualified managers and their divisions are operating on solid ground.

There’s a subtle difference now that you have ‘breached the 50’ – while managing this dynamic organization is your No.1 priority, you have to shift ever so slightly into a more visionary role. No longer invisible to the outside world, your competition is heating up because you are now playing in a larger fishbowl.

At this stage, your top 5 challenges include:

  1. Improving sales. There are three gates of growth: Profit/Revenue, Process and People. At this stage, your #1 priority is Profit/Revenue. Because you are entering a larger competitive domain, you need to focus more of your energy developing new opportunities and cementing key relationships with current customers.
  2. Difficulty forecasting problems. Larger is harder and in Stage 5 it’s easier for problems to simmer underneath your radar and create cracks in your armor. Staying alert, not allowing mediocrity to set in, paying attention to the little things (never assume your vision and values are safe), will help you continually stay ahead of the tidal waves that can sink your ship.
  3. Cost of lost expertise. Your second priority among ‘gates of growth’ is People. It’s harder and harder for your employees to feel ‘valued’. It’s more difficult for you, the CEO, to ‘touch’ every single person in the organization. You need to maintain a constant vigilance to stay on top of how your managers are aligning employee performance to company goals. That’s the hard part. The easy part is for your employees to disengage because they aren’t feeling ‘valued’ and decide the grass is greener somewhere else.
  4. Weak profit design. Focusing on value exchange, organizational structure, business development, operating systems, and knowledge management is a good place to start in evaluating your profit design as you move into Stage 5. Assuming what worked before will continue to work is a mistake many leaders make as the company grows beyond their capacity to manage all aspects of their business.
  5. Staff training. Do each of your departments have their own budget with spending discretion? Do they understand gross margins, how the company makes and keeps money? Is there an intentional training program in place for all employees that focuses on company goals? How much of your budget have you allocated to training? Training your staff on company goals, company issues and company priorities is far more productive at this stage of growth than sending them to expensive conferences and outside training programs.

While Stage 4 was all about developing strong independent departments, Stage 5 is all about integration. Because you took the time to develop strong fiefdoms, the art of integration will be much smoother.

You lead by showing that you value people’s input and you work to get commitment through participation, not dictation. Having spent the time and energy to build a great team, look to them for guidance and advice in their areas of expertise.

Teamwork and collaboration is crucial as you lead your team into the future – and become a Stage 6 company.

This article, derived from content created by FlashPoint!, is based on the 7 Stages of Growth concepts developed by the Origin Institute and James Fischer. It was contributed by Jacqueline Sousa, a certified Growth Curve Specialist and regional director of the Florida SBDC at FIU.

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