The Antidote to Growing Painsby Michelle Bomberger | October 1, 2019
Your business is growing – you’ve got the right people and sales are up. It should feel good but instead, it feels like nothing is working right. You’re keeping up with what’s essential – getting the work done, managing your employees, and even business development – but you worry about all stuff that’s not getting done and what’s getting missed. You’ll find many reasons for this feeling of chaos in management books but it really just comes down to “growing pains”. So what can you do to alleviate the pain?
Get a grasp of what’s getting done and not getting done.
Start with yourself and look at how you’re spending your days. Tracking the time you spend each day is enlightening. With this information, you can objectively review what tasks are the right tasks for you to be doing and what can be delegated or outsourced. Be sure to also track the kinds of questions and issues that your team elevates to you and consider whether you’re the right or best person to address those questions. This information provides insights as to whether you’re fighting your employees’ fires or whether there’s information that only you know.
Do the same thing with your team.
Have your team track their daily activities, the time spent on each, and what’s not getting done. As above, this information will help you objectively determine whether your team is working on the right things and where they should delegate or get additional resources in some areas. Maybe the accounting person who has always handled insurance, business licensing and human resources can’t handle all three now that you’re operating in 5 states and have over 50 employees. Often business growth creates stresses on our employees that we’re not even aware exist until we ask them. Trust me, they will appreciate your interest in their job satisfaction (even if they hate the tracking of their time and activities).
Process and structure are essential.
Very likely, a large part of the frenzy you feel is due to a lack of process – and process will very quickly eliminate much of the chaos. The data you collect from the activity tracking above will highlight where processes break down and negatively impact the team’s effectiveness. These insights give you a great place to start with your process documentation. A lot of tools are cropping up to help with process documentation as well – check out Trainual as an example.
Understand that what got you here may not get you there.
As your business grows, it will require different resources both internally and externally. A business of 5 employees may have someone in accounting or administration handling its human resource and employment compliance needs and when it reaches 20 employees may outsource its human resource management needs. Eventually, it will need human resources support in house and/or general counsel. The challenge is to find time to understand when additional or different resources are needed. More employees equals more compliance and higher risk. Your business needs growth planning to understand future needs and be ready to execute when the trigger occurs. Carve out time regularly – weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually – to look at the needs of your business and make a plan for action so you are not reacting in the chaos but executing a thoughtful plan.
Evaluate what’s not getting done.
Consider what important projects are on your to-do list but not getting done because you’re too busy. Often these are significant projects that address company risk such as providing employee performance reviews and documentation, updating policies, and tackling cybersecurity and data privacy reviews. These “administrative” items feel less important than the client work and business development – but when you consider the risk of these known gaps, you’ll see that one incident can not only suck more time and money – but could also destroy all you’ve built. Find time to get them done by delegating other tasks and/or outsourcing these to a professional who can likely do them more efficiently and effectively than you such as your CPA, business lawyer, marketing strategist, or consultant. For example, clients who use our General Counsel Services are able to delegate contract review, business licensing and corporate governance, and employment law research and policy writing. The work gets done quickly and correctly and saves the client’s team a lot of time to do what their jobs. The time and money investment in planning now will ensure your business is prepared when one of these risks inevitably arises.
Growing pains are, well, painful; but if you get control over what’s breaking down and creating the chaotic feeling, you’ll improve the business not only in the short term but also in the longer term. Sustainable growth requires proactive thinking and investment in your business. I get it – you don’t think you have time for that; but as the leader of your company, it’s the most important thing you can do.