Growth in Fools without Growth in Headcount

Fools working togetherThe Motley Fool is a team of around 250 people.  Because we are an awesome workplace most of those 250 people will tell you that they plan to work here for the rest of their lives.  As a result, right now we are running with less than 2% unwanted turnover.

That can create some high class challenges.  One challenge is that without turnover, there may not be new jobs opening up frequently. We meet this challenge head on in a number of ways I’m quite proud of.

Make no mistake – our company is growing.  We have grown every year since our inception in 1993.  We work hard to grow in every way but one – headcount.  As a business grows and headcount doesn’t, we ask more of everyone.  It’s just that way by definition…and with the math. With smart work, we can get you doing the “more” by making sure that your passion and skills are layered into your job. My goal is that your job is expanding in ways that gets you charged up to come to work every day.

I purposely note that “new jobs” don’t open up frequently.  We aren’t believers in “jobs” and job descriptions.  We talk about roles.  We all play many roles in our lives including at work.  By understanding and examining the existing and new roles at The Fool, we can find great opportunity.

Some of my favorite roles are the ones you play on project teams.  We love to create teams to tackle anything we see.  There are tons of benefits of cross-functional teams of Fools.  The one I am highlighting here is the opportunity to be a leader, a visionary, a strategist, etc.  In other words you can step out of some of your regular roles and try your hand at something different on a whole new project.  You may be a data processor by day and then suddenly be leading a team to understand what is happening with mobile right now to better serve our members.

Every industry is dynamic.  Looking to what is changing in your industry is another area for opportunity.  Suddenly an area like mobile exists where it didn’t previously.  Many companies would look to create a new job around mobile and add headcount.  But, we look to see if this is an area where we can enhance someone’s role who is already here.

I am also fascinated by the stage any company is in.  We love Les McKeown’s Predictable Success model.  Whatever stage your company is in can be a time for heroes.  If you are in cost cutting mode, that quiet accountant may be thrust into the spotlight and leading in ways she hadn’t previously.  We look to see where our business is, what skillz are needed to lead in that cycle, and who internally has the relevant skillz to step up.

We have a vibrant and strategically important internal university that we call FoolU. I recently asked one of our editors what she most enjoyed about coming to work.  Her answer was teaching a writing class.  FoolU is staffed by Fools.  We find teaching can be one of the most rewarding and productive roles anyone can play.

The constant search for new opportunities for Fools requires us to be immersed in who Fools are, what skillz they have, and where their passions are.  When we are able to marry that passion and skill with an area of value creation, we all win.  The culture team at The Fool is on a constant and never-ending search for those wins.

5 thoughts on “Growth in Fools without Growth in Headcount

  1. “The constant search for new opportunities for Fools requires us to be immersed in who Fools are, what skillz they have, and where there passions are.” Do you have an opening for a good proof-reader?

  2. Thanks, John. We are always on the lookout for good copy editors. But, we don’t burden them with our blog. That’s just me cranking content and keepin it real.Throw in my poor typing and it is always an adventure.

  3. I heard about this from a Fool a few weeks ago, when he told me that he’s got 3 sets of business cards. When he needs to fill a role at a conference, he’ll pull out one card, and when he’s talking up the Fool on the street, another will suffice. In my current job, I’m expected to do certain thing, and interact with certain people, and to not speak above others. This, for sure, leads to wayyyyyyy too much unnecessary drama! I like teams. Everyone in a team has something different to offer. It’s not that one of us are better than the other all around, but if someone has a skill polished more than another, we need to LEARN from that person, instead of defaulting to job descriptions, and who should do what.

    Man, I make a mean omelet. I’m not a master chef, I’m not even a line cook. But I’m happy to teach someone how to flip a pan if they ask. It’s all about learning and teaching. After all, aren’t each and every one of us looking for a job that we enjoy enough so that we can stop saying “it pays the bills” about it? Though it might sound Foolish to some, being able to say “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, but I’m crushing it anyway, and loving it”, is a pretty fine step towards finding that ever-so-coveted work/life balance (especially in the DC area).

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