Let It Go: How to Stop Being a Bottleneck in Your Growing Business

July 22, 2014

Are you a bottleneck?When your company grows to 10-15 people or more, frustration can begin to build – you have more people to get the work done, but you also have more people to talk to and coordinate on a daily basis. Suddenly you may wake up and realize that you are spending 75% of your time sitting in meetings, managing crises, or answering questions, and you’re not spending very much time doing what made you passionate about starting your business in the first place.

Chances are you spend most of the day feeling annoyed that your employees “don’t get it,” while your team is equally annoyed with you because your brain is split in a million directions, you aren’t available to make decisions, and you haven’t given them enough information to function independently.

Congratulations! It’s time to really embrace your role as CEO and make some changes so you can take your growing business to the next level.

Step 1: Articulate your vision, values, and goals

Unless you run a psychic detective agency, nobody on your team can read your mind. If they don’t understand the vision for the company, your core values, or your goals, it’s going to be difficult to act independently or make intelligent decisions.

To solve this problem, you need to take the time to articulate and document your company vision, values, and goals to get everyone in your company moving in the same direction. Depending on your leadership style and company culture, you can do this by yourself, or involve your team in the process – but either way, you will need a process for communicating these things to your team once you have them articulated.

WBG_btn_tip_sml At The Whole Brain Group, we use the 2-page Vision Traction Organizer tool from the Entrepreneurial Operating System to align our team and make sure everyone is on the same page with where we are going a company, and the obstacles we need to overcome in order to achieve our vision. 

Step 2: Set your company structure up to complement your strengths

Most visionary CEOs are annoyed by managing details, repeating themselves, and resolving conflict – and that annoyance can filter down to the rest of the company like a toxic plume. An Integrator (or COO, or President, or whatever title you feel like coming up with) is a person who sits between you and your team to make sure that any friction is smoothed out and converted into energy that will power the business. This person needs to love managing and resolving day to day issues, have a passion for clear communication between teams, and must have a tolerance for repetition and process.

Ideally, this person is already in your organization, but you may need to hire from the outside in order to find someone with these strengths and skills. Either way, once you give them the information and tools they need to effectively take things off your plate, things will start to get a lot easier for you when you can refocus on your strengths.

WBG_btn_tip_smlDevelop job descriptions for both the Visionary/CEO and Integrator/COO positions to make sure you are both on the same page about your roles and responsibilities. Make sure there is a transition plan in place to gracefully hand over key functions to your Integrator, and make sure your team knows what is going on and why changes are being made.

Step 3: Implement a system for communication and decision making

Chaos can reign in a small business – especially if the Owner/Founder left the corporate world to start the company. Frequently, these entrepreneurs (myself included!) hated all the meetings, processes, and systems they had to follow in the big organization they left – so they resist creating these things in their own company. Unfortunately, non-entrepreneurs (i.e. almost everyone working for you) like and need process – they want to know what is expected of them, and they want to be able to make decisions and get work done without having to run to you all the time.

If you have the right Integrator in place, he or she can help you create and manage the systems and processes your team needs to function efficiently – and minimize the number of processes and meetings you are involved in. When meetings run efficiently, decisions are made quickly, and processes actually speed up your business, your culture and bottom line will begin to improve dramatically.

WBG_btn_tip_smlInstead of reinventing the wheel, The Whole Brain team adopted the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) outlined in the book Traction by Gino Wickman. Using these templates and tools saved us hundreds of hours, and has given us a clear roadmap for success.

Step 4: Get stuff out of your head so you can get out of the way

This is the hardest step of all, and we see this all the time with our clients: the owner wants to delegate something (like marketing) to someone else, but doesn’t understand what it really takes to set the marketing team up for success. In order to truly delegate key functions in your business, you need to take the time to educate the person or team who will be taking things over, and then regularly receive updates on results so you can stop worrying.

Sometimes it’s easiest to hire an outside party to guide you through this process because you’re too close to the situation to be objective – you don’t always know how much you know, or what the other person is going to need from you to be successful.

When a client wants to delegate their marketing to us, we start by developing a Blueprint that documents the strategy and tactics we are going to follow so everyone agrees on what we are building, and how we are going to build it. During our 5-step process, we systematically walk our clients through exercises to help them document their Ideal Customer, Buyer Personas, Competitive Advantage, Social Media Tactics, Sales Process, and Lead Generation Strategy. Once our clients are confident that we “get it” it’s easier for them to ask us to take more off their plate, and it’s easier for us to get those things done efficiently and effectively.

WBG_btn_tip_sml Documenting key strategies and processes forces everyone to agree so that you can move forward with a high level of trust and confidence, which saves time and energy in the future. 

Ready, Set, Let it Go!

When you and your team are operating on the same set of plans, efficiency will start to improve, and you’ll be more likely to see positive results. It’s obviously not quite as simple as 1-2-3, but the effort of creating this structure will be worth it in the long run when you’re sitting in fewer meetings and working on projects that play to your strengths as a Visionary and CEO.