This article is part of our Process 101 guide.
Your business is a success because of your hard work.
You put in the long hours, made the right decisions and gave it your blood, sweat, and tears. But there comes a time when your company’s growth means that personally overseeing everything is no longer viable. You can’t be everywhere at once, so you need to know that your team are handling your business the way that you would. The way that has already delivered proven results.
In short, you need to implement process.
Recognising the need for process is an important first step, but putting it into practice can be difficult to get right. Just having processes in place is unlikely to be enough: they have to be implemented correctly.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your growing company, or are reviewing your existing processes, these three tips will act as guiding principles for implementing the right measures in the right way.
Tip 1: Take a step back
Implementing strong processes requires a difficult – but necessary – mindset shift.
When you reach this point in your company’s growth, you will be faced by the fact that the very thing that made your company a success is now the thing that is holding it back: your close involvement.
You have to stop working in your business, and start working on your business. This means handing over the day-to-day management to your staff. But if everything is stored in your head, then even the best team will not be able to unlock the potential of your business.
At every stage of the implementation process, you should be thinking about how you can remove yourself from the day-to-day running of operations. What do you do for your clients, and how can that level of service be replicated? Remember that no one else is as familiar with your business as you: the things you consider second nature might not be obvious to others.
Get the knowledge out of your head and translate it into repeatable processes.
Tip 2: Allow some breathing room
It’s understandable to want to set your processes in stone.
This is your business, after all: if you have to hand the reins down to someone else, then it’s only natural to want them to do everything exactly as you would.
But this could prove a costly mistake. Make your processes too stringent, and you could end up making your company inflexible. Your staff need to be able to adapt to the changing circumstances that face them in order to continue to deliver outstanding results. If your process is too strict, it may end up holding them back.
Instead, allow some breathing room within your process. Remember that people are smarter than the processes they use, and let your team know that you are open to sensible modifications to processes if the need arises. As they will be tasked with carrying them out, your employees will develop unique insights into the processes you implement, and so will be best placed to identify ways those processes can be improved.
Don’t enforce process so strictly that you end up stamping out common sense.
Tip 3: Empowerment, not control
Another important mindset shift is to think of process less as a way to control your team, and more as a way to empower them.
The way you think about and structure your processes at this early stage will shape how your employees interact with them. Your processes should not be arduous lists of boxes to be ticked, they should be the tools that your staff need in order to do their jobs quickly, efficiently and effectively. Everyone wants to do a good job and to work for a successful company. So what tasks can be automated, what systems need to be in place, and what information does your team need so that they and you can focus on driving your business forward?
Keep your staff happy, engaged and productive. Give them processes that work for them, as well as for your business.
Successfully implementing process: Conclusion
Strange as it may seem, the best step that you can take as the head of a growing business is a backwards one: A step back from the day-to-day running of your company.
It may not be easy to hand over some of the responsibilities that you have held since day one, but processes that empower your team to excel will give you the time you need to steer your company towards the next chapter in your success story. Following these three principles while designing and implementing your process strategy will pay dividends as your business continues to grow.
You have to step back from the day-to-day running of your business, so that you’re free to lead your company into its next step forward.
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