Over the past eight years of running a software company, I’ve experienced changes that are hard to describe. Having been a software engineer before starting my company, I had no prior exposure to business or what it takes to run, let alone grow a company. Fortunately, hiring great people allows me to ensure that work is getting done correctly, but also allows me to see my mistakes, and adapt accordingly.
When you hire great people, they force you to grow as a manager and leader to meet their expectations. Just when you think you have everything figured out, you hire someone who changes your perspective on everything. It’s important that during these times you are honest with yourself and remove any ego from the equation.
Want to build a company? Leave your ego at the door.
There are going to be moments where you think that you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur; that you should get the heck out of the way and let the professionals handle it. No! Do you best to fight through this – it’s a natural emotion but an incorrect one. What’s happening is that you see things as they are in reality – and trust me, that doesn’t happen often.
It’s like being awakened from the Matrix. Most often processes get reset, and things go back to “normal.” There’s YOUR normal, and then there’s what’s actually normal. Usually, the only way to recognize this is when someone comes in and punches you in the face; figuratively speaking of course. You need your direct reports to give you honest, constructive criticism as often as possible. It may be tough to hear at times, but if you use it and grow, you’ll be much better off.
Leave your ego at the door, hire great people, and let them expose your weaknesses. It’s through this process that we learn and grow.
During the early years of the business, everyone was great, and every person that we hired was a superstar, in the context of that time and place. It wasn’t until I hired more qualified and talented people that my perspective on what makes a great employee was.
There are probably advantages of not having been exposed to certain aspects of business, but identifying talent isn’t one of them. Great employees will bring out the best in you so long as you allow them to give you feedback. Bi-weekly one-on-ones are a great way to receive feedback. Use it as a time to not only express your feelings with them, but also open up the door for the reciprocal. Some may not feel comfortable at first but give it time, and they will open up.
Once you’ve gone through the process of feedback, self-evaluation, and resetting, you will have a fresh perspective on your business. Again, it’s difficult to recognize issues when you’re surrounded by it all day long. Sometimes, a good kick in the butt is all it takes for you to wake up and realize that you need to do better and improve wherever possible.