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Building the infrastructure to support growth

Module 6: Knowledge framework for growth

Your company can’t grow if it doesn’t have the infrastructure to support growth. Some founders are reluctant to develop policies and procedures because they think doing so will turn their agile, innovative company into a bureaucracy. Others like being the one who makes all the decisions. But over time, you’ll inhibit growth by having no standard operating policies and procedures and directing all decisions to just one person.

If you want to grow, you need to consider the following.

The business’ “rules of the road”

1. Develop policies and procedures

Although it may sound counterintuitive, a well-constructed set of policies and procedures actually accelerates growth, rather than inhibiting it. A common set of policies and procedures that describe how the company does its work, provides structure, security, and ensures that decisions are not capricious and arbitrary. These policies may include how the company:

  • hires and orients people
  • conducts performance reviews
  • determines what are reimbursable expenses
  • allots sick days, personal days and vacation days
  • hires and fires people, etc.

These become the business’ “rules of the road” and they apply to everyone who works there. It enables your team to extend and enhance your leadership reach beyond what you can do yourself.

2. Learn to delegate: quit micromanaging

If you want your company to grow, you have to stop making all the decisions and doing everything yourself. Take the time to formulate and communicate a set of decision rules that others can use to make decisions as good as – or possibly better – than you would make. Learn to ask employees for their ideas. And when they ask you what decisions they should make or what they should do in certain situations, learn to say, “What do you think?”

3. Fund the infrastructure

Just as countries need roads, bridges, and airports to support the development of commerce, so do companies need information, processes, systems and procedures to support the development of their business. Spend the money and put in the three fundamental sets of processes and systems that growth companies need for:

  • finding, selecting, managing and leading people
  • planning and alignment (e.g., CRM, a planning process)
  • management and control (e.g., ERP, product development, inventory management, supply chain management, financial management).

Spend the money and put in the three fundamental sets of processes and systems that growth companies need

4. Have a proper organisation chart

In addition to policies, procedures, processes, and decision rules, you need an organisation chart that shows who’s in which department and division, who reports to whom, and who is accountable for what. People need to understand how your company gets work done if they are to contribute effectively and grow into future roles and responsibilities.

5. Empower your people when they're ready

It can feel like a leap of faith when you "hand over the reins" and empower managers to take on new responsibilities – but not if you have used the Five Levels of Delegation. Delegation is about training and empowering your staff to take on more and more responsibility as the company grows, and then rewarding them with increased trust and responsibility when they perform well. This will free you up to move to the next level of leadership and will enable the company to keep growing.

Be honest about whether you have infrastructure in place that can support growth. If you don’t, start building it now! It’s important to have basic infrastructure in place before you enter rapid growth. You will need to upgrade and add on to it later, as the company continues to grow.

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