By Martin Vogel
Whether or not you’re interested in working in start-ups, you can’t ignore them. They represent the Arab Spring of organisational life. Coaches, and the leaders they support, need to understand the world of work that start-ups are creating, because it could become the norm within a decade. Book now for our start-ups event on 24 May.
We’ve been planning the event with our four guests and here’s a flavour of the insights they’ll bring.
We’ll be joined by two leaders from Receipt Bank – Nelson da Silva, UK country manager, and Helena Wood, welcome team leader. Receipt Bank helps businesses with processing the documents associated with accounts. It has 200 employees globally, 40 in London, with an average age of around 25. It’s growing at 15 per cent per month. This kind of growth presents choices about how you recruit. Do you find experienced people and be patient as they adapt to your way of doing things, or do you bring in young, motivated people and mould them to your way? Receipt Bank has opted for the latter and is now looking to compress the speed with which it trains people to match its rate of growth. It’s exploring how to condense a nine-month development programme into a matter of weeks.
Maria Campbell is in charge of HR and much else at Mondo, a smartphone bank. She says business works in different ways in start-ups and, consequently, leaders don’t look the same as elsewhere. Millennials are drawn to the environment because they can experience work of much broader scope than in traditional organisations and can rise to positions of leadership rapidly. Once there, though, they have a lot to learn about how leadership works. Growing rapidly, Mondo has also recruited employees with 30 or 40 years career experience. But those joining from large organisations have to adjust to getting things done with little support. Wherever they come from, though, employees are choosing to eschew hidebound mature organisations – drawn instead to a culture in which decisions are made quickly and they can get things done.
Paulina Sygulska is a founder of GrantTree which helps UK tech companies to raise money from the government. She firmly believes that young people are opting for start-ups because they are searching for a different environment. How they feel about their work is at least as important as important as money and other instrumental considerations. GrantTree is pioneering some of the approaches to organisation advocated by Frederic Laloux – an approach they describe as open culture. This is manifest, for example, in openness about how much everyone is paid. The templates being laid down by young workforces such as hers are likely to define how workplaces organise themselves as millennials progress in their careers and take over.
One challenge for rapidly growing organisations is that they change so rapidly, their leadership needs are constantly evolving. How reasonable is it to expect their incumbent leaders to meet these changing needs? Or do they need to recognise that different individuals are suited to different stages of the organisation’s evolution? As the organisations grow and add more corporate structure, can they maintain a culture of promoting from within or do they need to become more adept at integrating external recruits. In what ways can coaches help start-up leaders navigate these issues?
There are interesting questions then both about the lessons that start-ups offer to more mature organisations and the leadership challenges they themselves face that might benefit from coaching interventions.
One final thought: because of how start-ups are financed, there is a bias towards self-implementing training and development. Traditional models of coaching interventions might not fly. Coaches interested in developing business in the sector need to think of this when approaching start-ups world and consider how they can add value.
Lots to talk about. As usual, the conversation among the participants will be just as important as what our guests have to say. Can you afford not to be there?
Start-ups and scale-ups: the new world of business
24 May 2016, 6.30–8.30pm
Space in Marylebone, 10 Daventry Street, London NW1 5NX
Members £36 inc. VAT; Non-members £42 inc. VAT
Image courtesy IBM.