Hello boys and girls. Sit down, and let me tell you a story. Are you comfy? Good, then I’ll begin…..
There once was a beautiful boutique business run by a passionate and hard-working entrepeneur. Thanks to a mountain of hard work, blood, sweat and tears, the business is now going ‘great guns; turnover is up, orders are flooding in, they’ve moved into plush new offices, hired a great new team and it truly feels like the world is their proverbial oyster*.
But, what’s that? Suddenly and without warning, this fairytale has turned sour, and now they’re in the middle of an absolute horror story. Costs have begun spiralling out of control, those lovely clients are suddenly complaining about irregular customer service, productivity is falling through the floor and horror of horrors, all the new staff have booked annual leave during the same week, leaving the hard-working entrepreneur manning the phones, the production line and fending off negative social media comments all on their lonesome.
Ouch. What on earth happened?
Unfortunately, this story is all too common, and I’ve seen it play out time and time again. Often where a period of business growth results in an increase in output and staff numbers, the broader structure of the business is just no longer suitable or fit for purpose – and the whole business just starts to break down.
This is often where I am called upon to step in. So, what might have gone wrong? Here are some of the issues I encounter when I visit these business’s, and the questions you should be asking yourself now if you are on a growth trajectory:
1. DELEGATE and find yourself a great Management team
Are you managing everyone in the business still? If so, then that’s probably too many people. You need to look at managing ideally 6-8 people as a maximum. The dream of having a totally flat organisational structure is over as it’s impossible to give people the attention they deserve at this stage of company growth. You need to focus on your strategic goals and objectives.
Unfortunately, lack of attention to micro matters comes back to bite you. Problems start to fester and grow and can lead to employee turnover (which you can’t afford at this stage), a drop in morale, and resentment by team members as they watch the problems grow with no one doing anything about them. On top of this, you will see productivity begin to fall, deadlines will begin to slide and customer service standards will start to slip.
The only way to start getting in front of all these problems is to get help from your people to identify and address these issues without you being the bottleneck. That usually necessitates promoting your first set of people to management roles.
2. COMMUNICATION is KEY!
Can you personally know what everybody is doing, all of the time? When you all fit around a single table, or the small kitchen you once met up in, it’s easy for everyone to feel like they know what’s going on. But now things, have changed. Gone are the days when you can have a team wide meeting and make sure that everyone knows everything, all of the time!
Now people have to learn to focus on what they need to do, learn when and whom to ask if they are stuck (and that’s their line manager by the way, not you! You are a strategic leader now)
This can be especially difficult for your earliest team members who may fondly remember the early days when they were involved in everything.
3. DEVELOPMENT PLANS FOR ALL
Do your staff have a career plan? When you start out, the people that work for you are often passionate believers who are just trying to help the business succeed. Their career is the success of your business.
But as your business, and your team grows, both the people that are joining, and often some of the people that have been with the company for quite some time, start asking about their career paths at your company. They want to know both what opportunities for growth there are and the possibilities for promotion. They want to understand the steps it will take to get there, and you need to have some answers to these questions! Because if you don’t, disquiet will set in, employee satisfaction will fall and you will likely face an increase in absence issues and increased staff turnover. It is so very important to be proactively addressing clear career opportunities, and nipping the disquiet in the bud.
4. BUSINESS LEADERS DEVELOP THE CULTURE OF A BUSINESS
Do you know what the cultural narrative of your business is? Culture is about the way you do things in your business. What are the habits everyone follows? How do you celebrate? How are failures handled? What does the team do together? How do you communicate? Are problems resolved or swept under the carpet? Once your employee numbers begin to creep up, like concrete, culture starts to set.
Those behaviours are now routines and new employees will start to follow the norms they see them, so you had better make sure that those norms are what you want them to be! It takes hard work to build a company people want to work for and it’s a lot more than perks like free lunches and beers on Fridays.
Recognise any of these things in your business? Then if so, do get in touch as I would love to work with you to help resolves these issues and make sure that your business continues to grow successfully, as you so deserve it to do!
*did you know that the great Bard himself, William Shakespeare, originated this famous phrase btw? Don’t ever say I’m not cultured!