Rapid business growth can only be exhilarating or terrifying Leaders today are expected to triumph in all areas – efficient use of funding, building a great place to work, and revenue growth by double digits. Short term success comes by meeting aggressive targets – but what happens if current operations and team dynamics are not prepared to sustain rapid growth? In my 18 year career helping businesses to grow, I’ve seen countless examples of stunning growth, and equally stunning stress when this balance isn’t achieved. This article will give you ideas in striking the balance between growth and sustainability.
Increased complexity often follows growth. This sometimes results in quality issues, inefficiency and a general “feeling of stress” in your environment. Complexity and stress builds the need to increase scale and maturity across people, processes, and technologies.
Here are some ideas for achieving rapid growth without wrecking quality, efficiency, and morale:
1. Set upward expectations about needs and tradeoffs. What investments should be made to prepare for increased organizational size and complexity? Some examples could be increased budgets for training, internal communications, customer service, and process improvement needed to sustain the growth. But what if budgets can’t be increased for these items? Communicate what bad things will happen without sufficient funding, then seek a documented decision to accept these tradeoffs. For example, “drop in customer service / net promoter score that could result in higher cost of sales over the next 2 years”.
2. Support those in stretch roles. As the company grows, which specific team members will be stretched beyond their zones of confidence and capability? How can you support them in meeting immediate growth challenges, while preparing them to step into a longer term role directing the business? Consider setting up weekly 1:1s with stretched team members to discuss challenges, provide real time feedback, and most importantly, listen. Pair up experienced and less experienced people as mentors/mentees. Set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound goals that allow tracking of progress. Encourage your people to maintain work/life balance.
3. Lean on relationships as operating processes mature. If the automated workflow, CRM, or ticketing system doesn’t quite reflect how the business actually works, how can you build an environment where people jump on a call to resolve roadblocks in line with the intent of these processes, while balancing the need for prioritization and documentation? Even within highly regulated industries, I’ve been impressed with how effective a phone call can be in solutioning through process or system inadequacies.
4. Prepare ahead of time. What additional stress will people and teams experience as a result of rapid growth, and how can you prepare ahead of time? Proactive succession planning will define the talent needs to support a larger and potentially more complex organization. Proactive impact analysis may be done to identify new use cases or customer expectations that may emerge as new customers are acquired. Rapid growth often brings change. Clear and consistent messaging to the workforce about how the company will grow and change, and how this will be positive from an employee perspective will help smoothen adoption of change.
Rapid growth is exciting, helps to accelerate career progress, and can potentially result in life changing financial success. Being proactive in focusing on expectation management, support for your team, collaboration, and up-front preparation will help position your business for long term success
But is it really that simple? Here’s the truth – your business environment is nuanced and complex. You won’t find that there’s a magic formula. The real magic takes place in synthesizing your ideas with others, testing your approach, and creating an actionable plan, specific to your situation that balances all of the competing priorities at play. What if you had a credible, experienced partner as a sounding board to help you to develop your ideas and create an actionable path forward? As a leadership advisor and coach, I’ve helped dozens of leaders to solve this exact challenge. Consider reaching out to see if we could be a fit in working together: Chris@Motion-Spark.com
About the author
Chris Musano has worked for 18 years helping leaders and teams to succeed through high stakes change. As a consulting executive leader, he has hired and led more than 500 people across 6 countries, run 8-figure P&Ls, and worked with 10+ fortune 500 companies to drive complex change. Chris is a Certified Executive Coach and entrepreneurial investor that has founded 3 startup businesses. He lives in Charlotte NC, USA and helps clients all over the world to build impact, clarity, and influence in reaching their goals. Consider reaching out! Chris@Motion-Spark.com