An integral part of any business is the team that works in your operation, as this reflects changes in the business environment and in the business itself.
Many business people are so focussed on growing their business and managing the changes in the business that they fail to see the changes taking place in their team and how these changes are affecting the overall operations and structure of the organisation.
The growth in your business can come from any number of directions including:
- investment from an external party
- an increase in sales due to marketing campaigns
- organic growth through exceptional customer service
- improvement in existing products and services
- new markets developing
- contracts being realised.
The possibilities are often only limited by your ability to act on opportunities.
But as your business grows and/or stretches, your team also grows and stretches and this may require you to take a long, hard look at the internal workings of your company.
The organisational structure of your business many have been perfect for when you set it up and started operations. No doubt the fact that you are growing is proof it has served all the business functions well up to now.
However, the reality is that as a business changes during growth, so too do people. Some people stay, and some may leave. Not everyone is comfortable with change, with some preferring to keep doing the same thing day in and day out. Too much change will have some of the team members choosing to leave. This can have a dampening effect on your growth and on the stability of your remaining employees.
The solution lies in recognising early that people are going to change and build this dynamic into your business planning.
One of the first steps toward achieving this is to analyse and identify which areas of your business are in a growth phase and then determine how this growth is going to, or is likely to, affect the daily tasks, duties and routines of the business and staff.
Some questions you need to ask yourself include:
- Are the right people in the right position to manage the growth?
- Do roles and responsibilities within the company need updating?
- Are the staff committed to your growth strategies?
- How will changing roles and duties affect the overall dynamic of the workforce?
- Is the growth in line with the strategic and business plan and forward projections for the company?
- Does the current organisational structure assist or hinder the area of growth?
The answers to these questions may not leap out at you. It may surprise you that your staff often hold the key. So teasing out their views, aspirations and ideas is critical.
The best way to initiate these conversations is to undertake 360-degree reviews with the management team to find out their thoughts and ideas on what they see is the best way to manage the growth, including the people element. Remember, these people are at the operational coal face and most likely are seeing the growth from a different perspective.
Do not be afraid to engage the team throughout the whole growth process and be open to ideas which in the past you may not have deemed appropriate. Ideas such as flexible working hours and arrangements, working from home, better use of technology and so on may suddenly be relevant when you are in a growth phase.
Also remember that each growth phase is unique and so the consultation and dialogue over employee dynamics needs to be undertaken for each phase – what works for one phase may not work for another phase. Your dynamics need to change along with changing the dynamics of your staff and company.
Remember, while you are busy consulting with your staff and management, you also need to be in a consultative phase and so talking to your business coach or mentor is a pivotal aspect of managing the growth. Your coach or mentor can bounce your ideas around, help you focus on the positive criticism that the 360-degree reviews may raise, and also ensure that you don’t lose sight of your growth objectives.
But overall, despite all the consultation and collaboration, you must accept that the final decisions on how you move forward are yours to make as you see fit for your business. As the saying goes, the buck stops with you.
A key to all of this is the 360-degree which gives management and staff “buy in” to the company’s plans. Having some degree of ownership gives employees a strong motivation to see that the growth phase is successful and that it sets the groundwork for future expansion and growth.
Having your staff know why the growth is important to the organisation, and therefore to their futures, will produce extra commitment and effort.
In addition, the staff become part of the organisation rather than just being employees and so contribute more and are committed to the change and actively contribute to it. They are more engaging, creative and constructive.
As the person running the company the positive results for you are numerous. Once the internal dynamics of the company have been adjusted to the growth, you are free to focus on that growth phase, – tweak and adjust it when necessary – in the knowledge that the ‘back room’ operations are in place and don’t need your constant attention.
You are also freer to look objectively at the growth phase and perhaps identify even more areas of possible expansion.
Opportunities may have been lurking in the background but haven’t been obvious because the internal dynamics have taken precedence – a situation which can be dangerous for any business.
Finally the relationships with staff and management become more positive and open. The 360-degree reviews will foster an atmosphere of trust between all levels of people within the company. People become peers in the company, rather than just employees earning a day’s wage.
- Define your growth plans and how they need to be implemented
- Conduct 360-degree reviews
- Be honest and open in communications with staff and management
- Treat everyone as a peer, but let them know the final decision is yours
- Restructure roles and employee dynamics to suit the growth phase
- Given employees the tools to meet the requirements of the changing dynamics of the company
- Be open to their feedback and criticism