The Human Factor: Why People Are the Key to Scaling Your Business
In your business, provided you’ve got the right plan and systems in place, it’s the people within the business that will be responsible for output and growth. You need a strong and capable team around you to achieve your Vision. The problem is that this is often the hardest part of your business to get right.
Unlike the digital tech that keeps our plans and systems up and running, people are less predictable. To quote British rapper, Rag and Bone Man: ‘We’re only human, after all’.
As a business owner looking to scale, how can you deal with the inherent unpredictability of humans? When all my other articles advise you to optimise your technology, processes and systems, how do you address the randomness of real people?
If you’re expecting a revelation, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Like the other foundations I’ve discussed within a successful scaling business, optimising your people is all about having a plan.
Resource towards future goals
Too often, businesses have existing employees who get the same tasks and goals based on their skill sets. This is basically kryptonite for growth – you can’t expect to move your business forward if everyone in it is just doing what they’re comfortable with.
In my Scaling Success Ecosystem guide, I talk about choosing the right people – which doesn’t mean just existing employees most suited to the tasks you want to be done. Instead, I want you to think about the future, mapping out the goals you want to achieve.
From these goals, draw out the actions and tasks it will take to reach them. Then you need to be brutally honest about your existing team – can they perform these actions confidently? Note that I don’t ask, ‘Could they, with plenty of training and support, learn to do them?’
To reach your goals, you need people who are equipped to get you there. If you lack that resource currently, it’s time to go out and recruit…
Freelancers or employees?
In a more flexible digital economy, do you actually need to employ someone? For many businesses, recruiting a freelancer to take care of certain tasks is going to be more efficient. Their initial fee might seem higher than a salaried role, but you’ve got to consider the long-term implications of hiring an employee – sick pay, pensions, tax, training etc.
The downside to a freelancer is that no matter how hard you try, you’ll never really have them adopt your company culture. They can only ever be an outsider looking in – but that doesn’t mean you can’t integrate them with the tools or systems you want them to use.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of freelancers over employees is that you don’t need to worry as much about letting them go. As we’ll discuss in a moment, a scaling business often reaches a point where certain roles must be phased out. Rather than having to deal with employment contracts and emotional burdens, you can end a freelancing agreement far more simply.
Structure as a form of safety and streamlining
Humans have some basic psychological needs that must be taken care of to function properly in society. One of them is safety – which floats the concept of routine. Humans see routines as safety – the direct opposite of chaos and uncertainty.
Establishing a clear structure in your business is a culmination of the advice I’ve given you in this article. A structure must take your company’s goals into account, and then clearly draw out the tasks required to move you in the right direction. Finally, the structure must assign the right people to the right tasks (with clear SOPs and processes to support them), allowing those people to feel safe, valued and productive.
The only downside to setting out a strong structure is that sometimes, it forces you to make hard decisions around your existing people. As your business moves forward, you’ll be able to spot areas of inefficiency and slow growth – which often means having to remove or replace the person responsible.
So many businesses get this wrong. In his bestselling book, Traction, Gino Wickman reminds us of the importance of establishing structure and reinforcing it. He says, "One of the obstacles in...achieving your vision is that roles, responsibilities, expectations and job descriptions are unclear due to structural issues.” “A hazy structure may have gotten you to where you are, but it will not take you any further."
You must take a future focus view, and this may mean eliminating people or roles (seats) that are no longer relevant.
People are fundamental to your success but are also often the barrier. I can help you implement the right structure to support employees, scale your growth and spot areas of inefficiency that need attention. If you’d like to learn more, just click here to drop me a line.
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