Growth Is a Slippery Slope

Linda LaitalaBusiness, Leadership, Management, Sales, WorkLeave a Comment

Jim began his business as owner and sole employee. With persistence and good fortune, he expanded from his kitchen table to his basement to his garage and on to a large rental.

As the client list increased, he added employees, expanded shipping, and implemented new innovations. Jim’s desk was in the center of the production floor where he could oversee every aspect of his “baby”. It was exhilarating and all-consuming. After hours he waded through the work he hadn’t gotten to during the day.

While the business was small, Jim’s management style worked, but as the business grew, he felt stressed and overwhelmed trying to control every detail of day-to-day operations. His staff was taking wonderful vacations to exotic places while he was putting in seventy-hour weeks. Jim’s health and family life were becoming causalities of his success.

In desperation, Jim stepped back and sought help in taking stock of his business and personal life. He found a coach who encouraged him to join a roundtable comprised of other business owners. Through those monthly meetings, he learned he could trust his key employees to do their jobs. Together they developed procedures to maximize the growing business:

  1. Identified the basic processes in his company.

a. Human Resources (Recruiting, hiring, training, managing, reviewing, retaining, and firing people)

b. Marketing (Capturing the interest of new customers, branding, getting their message out)

c. Sales (Converting prospects to customers)

d. Production (Producing product, workflow, quality control, shipping, receiving, customer satisfaction)

e. Accounting (Managing the flow of money in and out of the business)

f. Customer Service (Creating loyal customers)

2. Created a documented, coordinated, step-by-step procedure for each area. This step was critical. Up to this point, supervisors had done things their own way with little or no consistency. The procedures empathized communication, putting everyone on the same page.

3. Assigned accountability. Jim had to stop micromanaging; he could no longer be everything to everyone; he learned to trust his staff to do their jobs while he took care of the big picture.

4. Created measures for success. The Roundtable helped Jim realize that if it wasn’t measured, it didn’t matter; goals were set in each area, clear metrics that the entire team could work toward.

With planning, training, and the understanding that there would be bumps along the way, the new procedures were rolled out. Jim encouraged questions, suggestions, and open communication. He knew individual effort was critical in achieving the goals of the company, he hoped everyone would work hard and reap the rewards that building a more successful company would bring.

Did it work? Jim and his staff are on a journey, issues have risen and been addressed. A couple of long-term employees left because the pressure of being accountable was too much. A few mistakes were made, and processes weren’t followed, but they soon got back on track.

Jim learned he didn’t have to be involved in every decision in every department every day. Other people could and did make great decisions when provided with information, processes, and goals. He also discovered that weekly update meetings are essential to keeping everyone informed and working together.

By the way, Jim and his family recently took their first two-week family vacation, and the business didn’t fold in his absence. Life is much better in Jim’s world these days.

What important work needs processes in your company?


The road is easier together,



Linda Laitala, President
Raven Performance Group

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