Internal Operations Overload
29th August 2019
This article is part of Crowd2Fund’s series on Growing with Intent. In this instalment, we’ll be looking into how your internal operations can get overloaded when you’re in a new growth phase. Whether your business offers do attraction photography like Event Photography Limited or cookery classes like Ashburton Cookery School, you’ll need to focus on your internal processes to ensure you can grow your company efficiently. In both of these cases, they were expanding their operations to multiple sites or shifting from one major customer to multiple. This type of expansion requires the establishment of consistent processes, roles, and responsibilities that allow the company to expand while remaining operationally sustainable.
Chunking it up
In order to develop an understanding of your company’s operations, start by segmenting your organisation by its natural divisions. You might have the commercial side, dealing with sales, support and anything customer-facing, and an internal side, supply chain, technical operations, human resources and the like. Your organisation will have a natural structure, that has formed by virtue of necessity rather than intent. These natural structures are probably enough to get you through this process. As making sweeping changes too quickly can cause confusion or friction in your team, so it’s best to start with a base-line of understanding about how your business operates.
Your next step is to work with the members of each team to identify a clear list of common tasks and restructure them into bite-sized chunks. Take BuyDefinition, for example, an eCommerce Business with plans to expand the size of their team to include a full-time Admin Assistant. That full-time administrator may be experienced, but you can guarantee BuyDefinition has a number of unexpected or unique processes that could be made clearer by taking the time to define them in the first place.
If your business has multiple touchpoints between different team members for each process, consider using a framework to better define them, “RACI” is one of those frameworks. The acronym stands for :
- Responsible - Which role is responsible for completing the task
- Accountable - Which role is responsible for seeing that the task is completed and the point of escalation if it fails to be completed
- Consulted - Which role(s) should be consulted for their input before the task is completed
- Informed - Which role(s) should be informed that the task is being completed, or has been completed.
Throughout this process, try to avoid naming individuals, rather, go for their roles. This will help you to define a better team structure and develop a set of responsibilities that will give your employees more ownership of their position in the business. It will also bring to light areas where the responsibilities are shared or unclear, allowing you to prioritise a restructure of the team, or even hire an individual who can be made responsible for those functions.
Making the change
It’s not uncommon for your employees to feel like creating processes during this period is a bit of a pointless endeavour, they already know all the things that go on in the business - can’t you just hire more people like them? Well, you can, but unfortunately, it won’t allow people to flourish in the things they excel at. Processes allow employees to focus and gives them more awareness of the capabilities they need to delegate or outsource. If your employees aren’t in a position to step up, you need to find clear pathways for them to succeed within your organisation, or you will risk losing them.
One method for giving employees a clearer pathway is to allow them to redefine their roles throughout this process. Creating clarity around your internal processes will give them the opportunity to highlight and fix the most frustrating parts of their job. This is not a time to skimp, if they need a new tool, or want to be trained in something, give them the time to do so. This will empower them to improve the process and establish a new norm.
Increased reliance on a more structured approach to your internal operations is a side-effect of success and growth. This is an important and distinct milestone for a business, and an opportunity to give a new sense of ownership to your team. Start by chunking up your business into its natural delineations, develop a clear breakdown of responsibilities with your team and finally, make the change by empowering your team and giving them the opportunity to grow and delegate. You can stop the internal operations overload by taking the time to figure it out, and grow with intent.
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