It’s hard to grow – here’s how part 6

Here’s numbers 9 and 15 on the list – lack of accountability, and lack of training.

We could repeat some earlier entries here, particularly about communication, consistency, and systems. There’s a reason for that – a lot of things are interconnected.  It’s very difficult sometimes for ta business owner or their Training fits with this easily – the new jonb needs some input as to what a Training team to know how a decision in one area affects others. Sometimes they simply don’t tell the right people the right things at the right time. Small businesses have an advantage here. Because they are small, everybody knows one another, and they often work rather better as a team than happens in large businesses. They care about one another rather more – nobody is just a faceless number. Everybody is busy – and often everybody has often more than one job. Commonly the person who does the bookkeeping also does a lot of the admin, some of the HR and anything else that needs doing. Similarly, the marketing and sales may be spread around the organisation.

This is partly due to limited resources, as none of these things are a full-time job in themselves, and partly because the job is often made to fit the person rather than the other way round.

Lack of accountability

It’s astonishing how much can actually be achieved by everyone mucking in, but it does have its drawbacks, and you should be aware of them. Lack of accountability is one of them. People can hide behind a list of other things that should have been done to excuse a failure in one area or another. It’s worthwhile revisiting job descriptions – not to hold people to account as such, but just to make sure that every function is covered and to have some discussion about how relatively important each element is. Extra duties are often added without any real thought from the business owners or the employee as to what else will be impacted by this extra activity.

The business owner can be culpable here too. Accountability, like communication, is not a one-way street. It is your responsibility as owner to be the sort of person that your team want to work for. It shouldn’t just be about the salary, because then you will be getting the minimum amount of effort necessary to get the cash. Most people want to enjoy their work, for it to have some meaning, and for that to be recognised – in ways other than money. In other words, if they want to work for you and believe in you and what the company is trying to do, you will get better results.

This is a leadership issue. It’s not about charisma or being macho. Rather, it’s about the things we teach our children – being honest, decent, truthful, consistent, and clear.

Lack of training

Inevitably this leads onto training. The simplest way to improve your team’s performance is to make sure that everybody knows exactly what to do, how to do it, how that impacts everybody else, and that includes  customers and suppliers. Back to systems! They are an excellent way of describing diagrammatically how things work.

If you give someone an extra job to do, discuss how relatively important it is, and also make sure that they know exactly what to do. Don’t just throw it at them and expect the best, because you will be disappointed. There’s an old saying - rework is the most expensive work there is. Lack of training guarantees rework. And rework means slower delivery to customers, who are the last people you want to upset, extra costs and extra stress internally, and an unhappy environment.

Training isn’t just for the team. Business changes all the time and the pace of change is increasing. So business owners need to keep up-to-date to remain competitive. But keeping up-to-date is essentially just standing still – level with your competitors. You should be improving your skill set, and those of your team so that you gain some competitive advantage. It will inform better decisions and provide opportunities. Training is one of the things which is cut first when times get difficult. The other one is marketing. Maintaining or increasing them should mean that you gain market share from your competitors. That would seem to be a better survival strategy.

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