I recently met with the C.E.O of a growing global organisation to discuss how I could help them move to the next stage of business growth through taking their People Development offering to the next level.
As a consultant it is critical to be able to listen and make sense of: the questions the client asks; the information they share, and be able to tune into their fundamental need
In this case the need being “How do we grow from 150 to 300 staff across multiple sites; nationally and internationally, whilst growing from £17 mil to £30 mil whilst maintaining the ‘thing’ that has made us successful to date?” i.e. “Have you done this…successfully?”
One thing I have learned through my life journey is that in order to grow it is often beneficial to say “yes I can!” and then figure out how as you go. However, there are times such as this: where the task is too big; where the learning and application curve would be too steep; where damage to reputation would be too great, which make it wise to say no and in this case that was what I had to do.
However, every opportunity is a learning one and as always I left that meeting determined to have the necessary knowledge so that the next time an opportunity came my way I could say “yes”
Lesson one – Growth is change!
Everything that was will be needs to re-molded to accommodate this growth and if you don’t start with this awareness as your framework you are in for a world of pain.
Lesson two – Growth is complicated
As an organisation grows the following complications occur
a. The founders of the business lose touch with the people on the front line – What this means is that the heart and soul of the company (the vision) has less and less impact on the people that matter and the people start to lose contact with what mattered at the start
b. Standards start to blur as more layers of ‘leadership’ are implemented – Unless you have a very strong development and standards maintenance process in place these begin to become diluted as more management layers are put in to ‘manage’ the growth. Even the best processes do not ensure 100% take up of the original message, which means that if the original message is diluted by a mere 10% for every new layer, by the time you get to an office location on a different continent to the head office your original standards and development process will be severely (but necessarily obviously) compromised
With the above in mind, lets look at
How to grow your business from 1£17 mil to £30 mil, 150 to 300 employees all whilst maintaining the thing that has kept you successful to date
- Accountability – Create a culture of accountability
If you want to grow significantly every individual in the organisation needs to be accountable. This does not mean that they get the blame if something goes wrong although this is a piece that needs attention as well) What accountability means is that everybody is very clear about their part in what success for the business means; they understand the impact their action/non action has on the success and take ownership for their part.
How this looks in practice? When something goes wrong they stand up and acknowledge their part in this and come along with solutions to get their part back on track
2. Listening – Create a culture of listening
Have Nancy Kline to thank for this one! If we don’t know how to listen to each other, we won’t listen to each other. If we aren’t listening to one another; we stop communicating; we stop communicating and we die
3. Learning – Create a culture of learning
Most dictionaries define learning as ‘the acquisition of knowledge through …” I believe learning is greater than this. Learning is change and growth! An organisation which has a culture of learning is an organisation where each and every single individual is committed to being a master of their role and are committed to sharing the development of learning
What are your experiences on the above?