There is a growing trend of businesses rapidly evolving and growing as we regain a semblance of normality after being winded by a global pandemic.
At face value, this sounds enormously positive. However, we are still navigating murky waters with the challenges that Covid may still bring when winter rolls in and, coupled with ongoing rapid changes in technology and market needs, unpredictable change may be something we need to get comfortable with for the foreseeable future.
Given the multiple factors at play, is your business really ready to grow in a climate of uncertainty? How do you ensure your business is ready to handle such growth?
Let’s discuss three fundamental areas that are pivotal to ensure that your business is ready to grow:
- Organisation design
It’s likely that you have your entire strategy mapped out and that it includes numerous fundamental goals, such as the management of capital, how to identify and best use key partnerships, product development or solution refinement, as well as scaling and staffing. This is the ‘what’ of the strategy. However, to gain buy-in from role-players in the business, you need the ‘why’, or what is referred to as strategic narrative.
In simple terms, the strategic narrative is your business story. It is the human side of the business and should articulate the purpose of your business – what is the reason for its existence? What are your long-term ambitions for the business? What behaviours are employees expected to exhibit to support the business growth? Essentially, the strategic narrative is the glue that aligns and drives the organisation forward. It is also an essential component of creating high-performing teams.
To begin creating a strategic narrative, the organisation should consider the following questions:
- Why do we exist?
- Where are we headed?
- How do we intend to get there?
- How can we make this clear for everyone to understand?
Talk to experts about their strategic narrative and how this evolved whilst scaling up. Find someone you trust to give you and your team feedback on your strategic narrative.
According to Jefferson Wells ManpowerGroup, the following soft skills are critical following the global pandemic:
- Accountability, reliability and discipline
- Resilience, stress tolerance and adaptability
- Leadership and social influence
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Initiative taking
You may rest easy thinking you ‘simply’ need to ensure you find or nurture these skills in your leadership team, right?
Wrong! Leadership is contextual and relational. The kind of leadership that is critical for your business depends on number of variables, such as:
- The environment you are operating in
- The aspirations or goals set for your business
- The nature of people in leadership roles
- The nature of people who you seek to lead
Conducting a leadership needs analysis, assessing capabilities against those needs and investing in targeted development of leadership capability is not only vital to sustaining your business performance, but to ensure the mandate of growth is attained.
3. Organisation design
The organisation’s design or structure provides tangible and identifiable relationships between different teams and parts of your organisation, and the people within it. It is some form of structure that gives employees clear guidelines for how to operate and sets parameters for maintaining order, making decisions or resolving differences.
To ensure your ambition to grow the business is achieved, your people need to be effectively organised. This is referred to as organisational effectiveness.
Ponder the answers to the following questions:
- How effective is your organisation?
- What makes it effective?
- Why is it effective?
Since organisational effectiveness is the concern of how effective a group of people are in achieving their stated goals, your answers may reflect whether your business goals are being met.
But, how do you know that the outcomes of your business are linked to the input? How do you know that the way in which your organisation works is contributing to these results, and it’s NOT just the highflyers in the business driving performance? How do you know that when you need to focus on a different set of goals, your organisation can adapt and remain effective?
Productivity is not simply the measurement of task and output; leaders of businesses of any size must contend with relationships between people and tasks, people and other people, and people and the business.
Things become quite complex because of how people engage in their tasks, how engaged they feel with the business they work within and how engaged they feel with the other people they are working with.
Cue a global pandemic, and the nature of uncertainty increases organisational complexity as you contemplate new variables at play: childcare challenges for professionals struggling to balance work and home life, a heightened sense of health concern for many, and the emerging trend that there appears to be an increasing struggle to find talent with the ‘right’ mix of both hard and soft skills, making upskilling a must-have to succeed in today’s environment.
Attempts at growth fail largely due to inattention to organisational design. The implementation of a strategy needs to be received by a collection of people organised, receptive and supported to execute such.
Your business’s action plan
To ensure that your business is ready for growth, we have compiled a practical outline of what should be on your agenda:
1. Conduct a thorough analysis of your organisational needs
Ask yourself, your team and relevant stakeholders what it looks like to achieve outstanding business performance and growth. Document what the organisation’s needs are.
2. Assess your organisation’s capabilities/effectiveness against your future ambition
Rigorously and systematically assess your business’s strengths and weaknesses in each area, central to what you defined in point 1.
Assess where your leadership team are winning and where you have gaps.
3. Develop and implement new solutions
We’re all familiar with Einstein’s insight “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Fresh solutions are required to ensure people can fulfil their collective potential and perform effectively in pursuit of the business’s goal to grow.
4. Monitor and evaluate
Ensure the business’s efforts are monitored and developed as the organisation expands, navigates and satiates a hungry market. Completing the foundation work will allow you to measure, appraise, change and monitor future developments more easily.
Your organisation is as unique as your DNA. Instead of adopting what you know or what has worked elsewhere, it’s imperative that you consider the needs of your own business and its people to get the right structure, systems and processes in place.
It is also critical to accept that human behaviour at work is rarely fixed and the business’s structure and process is only one component of what influences people to behave the way in which they do. Developing a better understanding of your people, your leadership and how they really work will inform the continuous evolution of the organisation to perform better.
We’ve seen how businesses have been obliterated by the ‘wrong’ leadership, and conversely, how organisations have been turned around by the ‘right’ leadership. The important thing to remember is that a blanket approach does not work. Leadership is contextual and relational, making it specific to your business (and remember, the behaviours required can be developed).
The sensible approach
Without a formidable HR department or professionals specialising in business effectiveness, the above tactics may seem daunting to many business owners and leaders.
You’re not alone.
At Blackmore Four, we have helped plenty of businesses just like yours. We are an independent consulting company, offering specialist advice and tailored solutions if you are looking to grow your business to new heights.
Our approach is based on a deep understanding of human behaviour at work and an ability to identify and address the specific leadership and organisational development needs of your business.