Growth Doesn’t Have to Equal Inefficiency
Expanding your business is like a dream come true. It’s more than you could have hoped for when you started out in a run-down building with patched walls and bars on the window (all you could afford). Now you’ve got the money to move into a bigger space in a better section of town, hire additional employees, and take your enterprise to the next level, all thanks to careful planning, hard work, and a dash of luck along the way. However, you may have noticed that your extra spending has not exactly led to increased efficiency amongst the ranks. In fact, it may seem like just the opposite has occurred. This is not uncommon.
Small companies often suffer growing pains as they strive to expand. By implementing a few simple tips and tricks, you can ensure that your efficiency remains high as you grow.
For starters, you’re going to need to train new employees. There’s no getting around it. You have to hire in order to relieve some of the burden on the people who have been with you for awhile, working long hours and wearing many hats in an effort to take you to the level you’re at now. You can hardly reward them by giving them more of the same. However, this can divert the attention of your current employees to the extent that the actual work is not being done in a timely manner or is so rushed as to be done improperly. Missing timelines and delivering faulty work is simply not an option.
Create a manual. To preempt confusion, misunderstanding, or "fluid" policies, you may want to create a manual that lays out procedures and policies for all employees. If they have questions, they can simply look in the manual. Consider an online version of the manual that's viewable only to your employees.
Organize and compartmentalize your business. This is going to be a change for both you and your employees, but hopefully one for the better. The first step is to take over the managerial position if you haven’t already. You’re the leader of this little band and you need to act like it. This probably means you’re going to have to extract yourself from the daily operations and simply work on interfacing with clients (and bringing in new business) as well as ensuring that everyone else is doing their work.
Create job descriptions. Identify and implement job descriptions so that everyone is aware of just what they’re supposed to handle. While older employees may take umbrage to being shackled with a title, it will be better for everyone in the long run, cutting down on work load and allowing for the best possible efficiency (with less redundancy or overlap of tasks). You may also want to consider appointing a coordinator to handle the employees so that you can attend to larger obligations.
Focus on what works. Your staff does better when they understand how their specific tasks fit in to the larger goal of the company. Try the "gold star" approach to help teammates understand how their day-to-day contributes to the bottom line. Reward those who excel and provide training and support to those who need it.
Clarify your intentions. The company that has a mission-critical approach to the business can understand where everyone is headed and how the firm "fits in" with a larger picture. Make sure your vision, mission, and values are clarified to all your staff, suppliers, and customers.
Empower employees. Don't get bogged down into micro-management. Train up your staff and empower them to make decisions that benefit the company. With the right guidelines and appropriate powers, you can give them the ability to be co-decision-makers on issues that they have the power and ability to resolve.
Promoting efficiency while your company is growing can be a difficult task. Employees that are used to working independently may find it hard to report to a supervisor and training new workers will take time and patience as they strive to learn the ins and outs of your particular business. You may find it disagreeable to leave the "real" work to others. However, if you want your company not only to expand, but to remain successful, you must take the steps necessary to ensure that efficiency remains high, even as you realize your long-term goal of transitioning into a bigger company.