Working at a growing company can be exciting. In many ways, the experience embodies something very of-the-moment. Seeing a company grow from 10 to 50, or even from 500 to 1,000, employees brings about ideas of the mythical start-up that went from 2 guys in a garage to a successful IPO. It’s no wonder entrepreneurship is on the rise.
However, rapid growth is challenging, and taking a step back to make sure you are growing all aspects of the business in unison is crucial. Maybe you’ve gotten swept up in hiring but are now feeling like you’re slowly losing control of other aspects of your business. Or maybe you are getting ready to launch a new product or take on a new market and need to make sure everyone is aligned around the same goals.
You are probably always on the lookout for new theories and technologies to help support your business growth systems. One place leaders often look is their company operating system, or the guardrails that are set up to govern how you operate. This encompasses everything from your values to your org structure to the tools your employees use on a daily basis.
But overly engineered operating systems can often be at odds with innovation, so it’s natural to shy away from them. How do you create an operational system for your business that’s both lightweight and efficient and won’t hinder your growth?
Communicate Your Vision and Mission
This may seem basic, but if everyone in the company isn’t aware of the company’s priorities over the next six months, year, or three years, your organization can quickly get off course.
Take the time to refocus and set clear priorities centered around strategic growth. It’s easy to get caught up in the priorities of a given day or week, and everyone at every level of your organization is probably guilty of it from time to time. Unfortunately, this tendency often leads to missing the big picture. Make sure there is a focus on tackling tasks so that important, but non-urgent work still gets accomplished.
Set up a regular company-wide meeting to review the mission and discuss the steps the organization is taking to get there. Then publish the mission and goals so everyone can reference them.
Clarify Roles to Create Autonomy
As your organization grows, so does the importance of clarity around roles and responsibilities between teams and team members. Growing your marketing team from 25 to 50 may mean adding a layer of management between you and team members who may have previously reported directly to you.
Each position should be defined in writing so individuals can experience autonomy and clarity of their positions. Creating a company-wide org chart can also help your management team understand and appreciate how other teams operate and contribute to the company mission.
Make Productivity Easy
How much time do your employees spend searching for information? How much time is spent duplicating work that has already been done? It’s likely that the product you are selling is more advanced than the systems and tools your employees use internally.
According to McKinsey, on average employees spend 20 percent of their time searching for the information needed to do their jobs. The time spent emailing and sifting through duplicate or outdated files in your inbox could be better spent by each department, whether its crafting marketing strategies, getting on the phone with prospects, or managing customer onboarding. If your team has to go to more than one system to find company information, it may be time to look for a modern knowledge sharing solution.
Foster Alignment and Collaboration Between Teams
A silo is a silo no matter if it’s a business process, function, or product team. As companies grow, organizational silos can become a major barrier that prevents information from flowing between teams. High-performing companies have business growth systems in place that allow information to flow up and down individual silos, as well as across multiple silos. Messaging tools like Hipchat and Slack as well as knowledge management tools like Bloomfire can help break down communication silos at your organization.
Track Progress Transparently
Numbers don’t lie. It’s not enough to be regularly communicating your company goals– you also have to be transparent about progress towards them. As Brandeis famously said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. And data is the sunlight for your organization. By demonstrating the commitment to transparency from the top, it will become easier for managers to be direct and honest about their team’s performance as well.
Focusing on the right issues and opportunities within your organization–especially your business growth systems– are fundamental to your continued growth.
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