Growth Challenges at Decora

Numerous challenges arise when you move from a 20 person company, where information flows freely and unwanted behavior can be identified quickly, to a 120 person company, where the culture takes a form of its own. During the past year, we have hired over 100 people! 

How do we stay close and connected? How do we make sure everyone understands where we’re going and their role in ensuring we get there? How do we make sure we don’t get disconnected from the things that make us who we are? How do we effectively become 'grown-ups' without drowning in bureaucracy and policies? 

We certainly don’t have all the answers. But we have always been practical in our solutions to complex matters. When dealing with people, we should think no differently. Here are two things I believe are crucial to foster as we grow:

1 - Balance between Freedom and Accountability

It is very important to find the right balance between these two crucial things.

In past experiences, I learned the hard way that when we give freedom but no mechanism to make sure people understand the direction and expectations, chaos arises. And not the good transformational kind. In a similar way, when you have too many unexplained rules and hold people responsible for things that are not clear, people tend to become alienated and to do just enough to get by. And we don’t ever want to settle for just enough. We want to go further, to be the best that we can be. 

So now we’re trying to determine what premises are absolutely mandatory to keep Decora innovative, adaptive and impactful and what is simply not necessary. 

We try to give more freedom for people to explore different areas and try new things but expect feedback on what worked and what didn’t . We want people’s ideas to be heard and for people to feel they can make an impact. But we also expect to see results and improvements. We’re making teams more autonomous, trusting each person to make the best possible decision for the whole company, putting self-interest aside. We allow for people to make mistakes but expect them to correct routes as soon as possible. 

While we still need to make lots of adjustments and still have a long way to go as far as finding the ideal balance between those two things, the idea is to move each day towards fewer policies and more guidelines, less detailed roadmaps and more focus on the results we aim to achieve. 

2- Open Communication

Another important thing is communication. We certainly have our shortcomings when it comes to disseminating information and establishing a clear set of expectations but we have made notable progress over the past year. 

We are working hard to exchange more feedback. And to be objective, straightforward and constructive while doing it. We want people to have a better understanding of what is expected of them and what it takes to grow within the company. Leaders are engaging more and more in this practice and it’s really paying off. 

We want people to stand up for ideas they believe in, but to also be responsible and present evidence, rather than just going for an intuitive approach. Intuition backed by solid data is always more valuable.  We want to communicate more clearly the direction in which the company is headed and be more open about the challenges we’re facing. We want people to identify flaws in our productive process, our products and in our relationship with clients and to promptly come up with ideas for how to improve them. More importantly, we want people to feel they can express their concerns freely. 

The good thing is that here at Decora we have been able to foster a culture of committed, caring people. People care. About the job at hand. About the well-being of the company as a whole. About each other. And that really shows. Because we care, we accept feedbacks more easily. We readily correct routes when necessary. We are willing to change. We are willing to try new things. We are willing to own up to our mistakes. We are willing to improve. At the end of the day, this attitude is what keeps us growing and evolving. 


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marcela bittencourt

human resources manager at decora