May 6, 2010
New People Electrify the Organization
We had a good year in 2009, but it was tough. Whose wasn’t? Sales were harder to come by, more existing customers left or asked for price relief than usual, and bills were hard to collect. Worse than that, internally a lot of people were in a funk all year. Someone on our team started calling it “corporate ennui.” Even though our business was strong overall and we didn’t do any layoffs or salary cuts, I think people had a hard time looking around them, seeing friends and relatives losing their jobs en masse, and feeling happy and secure. And as a company, we were doing well and growing the top line, but we froze a lot of new projects and were in a bit of a defensive posture all year.
What a difference a year makes. This year, still not perfect, is going much better for us. Business conditions are loosening up, and many of our clients have turned the corner. Financially, we’re stronger than ever. And most important, the mood in the company is great. I think there are a bunch of reasons for that – we’re investing more, we’re doing a ton of new innovation, people have travel budgets again, and people see our clients and their own friends in better financial positions.
But by far, I think the most impactful change to the organizational mood we’re seeing is a direct result of one thing: hiring. We are adding a lot of new people this year – probably 60 over the course of the year on top of the 150 we had at the beginning of the year. And my observation, no matter which office of ours I visit, is that the new people are electrifying the organization. Part of that is that new people come in fresh and excited (perhaps particularly excited to have a new job in this environment). Part of it is that new people are often pleasantly surprised by our culture and working environment. Part of it is that new people come in and add capacity to the team, which enables everyone to work on more new things. And part of it is that every new person that comes in needs mentoring by the old timers, which gives the existing staff reminders and extra reason to be psyched about what they’re doing, and what the company’s all about.
Whether it’s one of these things or all of them, I’m not sure I care. I’m just happy the last 18 months are over. The world is a brighter place, and so is Return Path. And to all of our new people (recent and future), welcome…thanks for reinvigorating the organization!