Thursday, August 4, 2011

Does Size Matter: Working for a Big or Small Company.

Every morning I wake up and say I need to post today.  I have been delinquent in posting new items outside of news articles, but have had a lot of ideas swirling in my brain.  As I battled with a large corporation to get my billing information correct this morning, I started thinking about the differences between large and small companies, and what they mean to an employee.

In the past I have worked for some huge companies, including Ford Motors and the Day and Zimmermann Company.  I've also worked with smaller organizations, and now of course work for the smallest version of a company, my sole proprietorship.

There are definitely some pros and cons to all sizes of business.  I think you need to examine your own needs when deciding on your future employer.  Here's a quick overview of some of the pluses and minuses to different organizations:

Large Company:
  • Name recognition
  • Stability (oftentimes, but not a guarantee)
  • Employee development programs and specific training programs
  • Excellent benefits including health, dental, vision, 401(k), stock purchase plans, STD/LTD, life insurance and related benefits.
  • Organization structure and defined career paths
  • Standardized compensation models
  • Potential relocation for regional, national or international assignments

  • Rigid organizational structure
  • Slow to make changes
  • Compensation models that do not allow incentives for performance
  • Expectation of employee dedication can translate into required promotions or relocations to satisfy corporate/management requirements
  • Can feel like a part of the machinery, not like an individual

Small Company:
  • Nimble response to issues and matters affecting the business
  • Can be key contributor to company's success
  • Can affect change
  • Can become integral member of staff with added compensation and trust

  • Little or no name recognition
  • May not have outlined company structure which leads to ambiguity of job responsibilities
  • Compensation models may be outdated or not reflective of your entire role
  • May have significant personalities to manage 
  • Benefit program lean to nonexistent
  • Training and employee development programs may be absent, or not complete.
  • With many responsibilities, your role can be too broad, causing you to be overworked

Knowing what you want your career to look like helps out a lot in deciding where you want to be.  If you are hoping to have a big corporation on your resume to show people your experience and accomplishments, it only makes sense to look past any downsides of big business.  If you are entrepreneurial and enjoy developing new programs, a smaller organization may be the best fit for you.

Having worked in lots of different sized companies, I do think you need to dig deeper into each organization before you decide what is the best one for you.  Some big corporations have excellent programs that foster innovation.  Some small places have excellent benefits and resources to provide you with the tools to flourish in your career.  Some big companies are broken into different business units, allowing key employees total autonomy to succeed.   And some smaller companies have overblown management models that make any decision impossible.  So talk to others who work there or have worked there to find out what it is like.  Getting that information, and determining what you yourself need in a position will allow you to steer towards a great position.

Off to file some paperwork.  Off goes the blogger hat, on comes the administrative hat.  Need a bigger hat rack. Wouldn't have it any other way.