The problem with indispensable employees

17 December, 2012

Rand Fishkin, one of the better thinker/bloggers out there on startup culture in the connected age, put up a great post on indispensable employees.

For me the key section is his advice to CEOs and founders:

Rand also points out that, perhaps counter-intuitively, becoming indispensable is a bad strategy for employees as well, because by making themselves indispensable they create the problems described above thereby reducing the chances of the company hitting paydirt. Following this logic through, only employees who are more concerned about their salary and personal position than the success of the company would makes themselves indispensable and resist efforts to build redundant processes. Let me indulge in a rhetorical flourish and ask – are these the sort of people you want in your company?

Wise words from Rand, but they take courage and good management skills to implement. There are of course a million things that fast growing companies have to worry about and building redundancy into process is one of those things that everyone agrees is a good idea, but often doesn’t get to the top of the priority list partly because there is no short term payoff and partly because it is often difficult. That can be ok (but not ideal) up to the point when the company starts to take off, say around the Series A or when the employee count grows past 20-30, but after that the longer it’s left the harder it gets to sort out.

(Nic Brisbourne is partner at DFJ Esprit, one of Europe’s leading venture capital firms.  The post has been reproduced with the author’s permission from his blog, The Equity Kicker.)

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The problem with indispensable employees

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