This title may be a little extreme, but there are many leaders who have not grown an organization and do not realize the challenges. Growing organizations eat time, energy, cash flow, and morale. Until one has experience with growing a business, it can be dangerous. Growth can be so exciting that it masks a multitude of sins that may be unnoticeable until it is too late.
We have a client that has grown to over 16 locations. The leadership team is finding that it is much more difficult to manage than they realized. We discussed with them about the 3 P’s of Growth.
People get tired in growth mode. We have seen organizations that look successful, and then as the people get tired, their work gets sloppy. Then, it is too late.
Over time, organizations can learn their pattern of how to grow without burning out their people. One client will absorb 6-9 new locations and then give the team a breather (time with no growth) for six months. They have done this so much over the last 15 years, they have learned a pattern that gets everyone to give their all, and they know that a break to regroup is coming. Another client in the same industry opens a new location every quarter. It takes about 60 days to get the new location up and running, there is a 30 day breather, and then they work on the next one. Both organizations love their customized approaches. The pattern fits their people and allows growth without burning them out.
To verify we are not burning out the people when the business is growing, we use two primary assessment tools: the Kolbe B Index and the 3R’s Action Plan. We also use The Growth Mood Chart to identify where critical individuals are to keep them from burning out and going to “C” player status.
Corporate may have learned how to do it, but teaching it at a distance is much tougher. Everything has to be packaged to be easily understandable so that the new or acquired locations can get up to speed quickly with confidence. In trying to get more customers at new locations, putting together an Action Team made up of seasoned employees at other locations will inspire, motivate and carefully bring in more customers.
In another case, much verbal communication was used to teach a new location, but little was put on paper. Therefore, when the trainers left, oral tradition did not carry over. Having notes taken by the “learners” and then having the “trainers” collect them to accelerate the packaging (while not slowing down the growth) is an incredible advantage.
This works hand-in-hand with people and packaging. Regardless of how good the packaging and training are, there must be reinforcement. An introduction is needed with written material, an interaction as a group, and a brief test or experience should then be used to reinforce. Videos of training, audios and short chapters of books all add to the learning experience and need to be layered in over time to reinforce.
A simple process can be used at first and added to as you get experience in what works and what doesn’t. Processes also help people stay fresh – what we teach needs to be freshened, deepened and broadened over time, or we may fall subject to the wisdom that “we quit doing it because it worked so well”.
Growing a multi-location business is very challenging. Once the excitement of “going for it” wears off, it is important to have a system in place that makes sure the people stay effective, the package causes absorption and use, and a process keeps it fresh. In other words, we have to cascade what you already know to the rest of your growing culture. Organizations have to be efficient and effective in growing so they end up with a better organization, not a bigger one with more problems that is producing less bottom line results.
Some questions to consider:
If your organization needs help sustaining its growth, contact our expert guides at 800-786-4332 or email CClemmer@AppliedVisionWorks.com. It only takes 30 minutes to get started!