When a business starts to grow quickly, there are several new problems that often manifest themselves.
Most of these issues are related to disruptions in communication as new positions are formed and old positions are closed.
In order to overcome these issues, here are five tips that will help you improve the communication processes in your company during times of rapid expansion:
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1. Chain of Command
The first thing that must be established is a well-defined chain of command. Everyone needs to know exactly what the official hierarchical structure of the firm is. Once this is established, lines of communication can flow much easier. Once ranks are established, everyone’s sphere of influence needs to be clearly explained, so that no one will try to avoid having to take responsibility for issues that clearly need attention.
However, encouraging communication and delineating various zones of influence is only part of the solution. It is also necessary for the various leadership levels to communicate quickly and efficiently. One of the best ways to do this is by using project management software like Basecamp, Mavenlink, Smartsheet, or Trello in order to speed things up. It’s also important to realize that with this type of software, the various levels in your hierarchy can see what each other is doing. With this type of transparency, many questions that one person may have can be answered instantly without have to actually contact someone higher in the pecking order.
It’s also important to realize that with this type of software, the various levels in your hierarchy can see what each other is doing. With this type of transparency, many questions that one person may have can be answered instantly without have to actually contact someone higher in the pecking order.
Project management software also makes everyone accountable for their work and lets everyone know just how far everyone has progressed on their tasks.
2. Focus on Results and Not Politeness
During periods of growth, things can get rather chaotic. That's why all business endeavors should focus on producing results. If feelings get hurt, that's too bad because there are larger issues at stake. Oftentimes, there are many changes that occur during rapid expansion, and there may have to be several adjustments in order to handle these issues more effectively. These adjustments will often ruffle feathers and damaged egos, and this is merely another aspect of having to deal with problems that are directly related to a company's growth.
The secret to managing the hurt emotions of various employees is to view each of these special situations as a golden opportunity and not as a misfortune. When an individual is hurt, they are vulnerable and will often reveal many aspects of their innermost feelings.
However, it is important to realize that this does not involve exploiting the sensitivities of another—it is having a chance to show you really care by listening to this person’s feeling so that you may have a stronger relationship that encourages better overall results.
3. Continually Communicate With Each Manager and Offer Incentives
You should constantly maintain a conversation with each manager and keep reminding them of the company's goals and how these goals are relevant to the daily tasks that face each one of them.
Depending on the size of the organization, you will probably not have the time to speak to every employee, but this is not as necessary because the communication between you and your managers is now of utmost importance. If you were micromanaging in the past, you will not be able to continue doing this if your company continues to keep growing.
Because of this reality, delegation is of utmost importance. You also need to have the right individuals in place to serve as managers. If these issues are not resolved, you could have serious complications develop rather quickly. One of the biggest secrets to delegating responsibility is that you use it as a tool to identify the greatest strengths of each manager. If they fail or succeed in any given area, you will know more about where they will perform the best.
Another aspect of the delegation process that is not widely known can be described as a process of co-delegation. This means that two or more people share responsibility for different areas. This also means that these areas can be adjusted and tweaked so that they fit your managerial staff like a glove. It is also helpful to think of the lines of delegation as being fuzzy and not sharp.
You should also offer incentives to your top performing managers, like cash bonuses or holiday vacations. These types of perks are often effective motivational tools that will inspire your managers to open more lines of communication with their subordinates. These bonuses will also help you to secure their loyalty, which is more vital than ever during these times of extreme growth.
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4. Use a Lot of Details
You need to explain yourself thoroughly. Just because you know what you are trying to express does not mean that your subordinates will understand what you are saying. This blockage of communication is often overcome by using very precise terminology and giving a lot of detail.
When you do this, you are cutting down on the ambiguous nature of simplistic phrases and replacing them with expressions that have only a few possible meanings. This often cuts down of confusion as long as each person you address understands the basic points presented in each one of your statements.
However, the thing that most people don’t realize about providing a great amount of detail is that this does not make things more complex; it makes them more simple. There is no guesswork involved in trying to figure out what is being expressed. Most leaders don’t realize this and will give only general instructions that give their subordinates a lot of leeway to misinterpret what was said. Therefore, be clear by going the extra mile and providing more than enough information so that tasks can be carried out in a very simple fashion.
5. Turn Failures Into Learning Opportunities
When there is a major failure in communication, you need to figure out why this situation occurred and then take steps to make sure that it doesn't happen again. However, you need to keep your attitude focused properly so that you and your company view these occurrences as being opportunities to enable future growth.
These types of "growing pains" are quite common and usually happen as a result of a large number of possibilities. In order to narrow down the list, you need even more communication with everyone. If there are occasions when it is appropriate to micromanage, then these are the times when it needs to be done.
If communication failures are not identified, then they will often grow and fester like a painful sore. They also be harder to eliminate if they are not dealt with immediately and are allowed to develop throughout your firm. As long as they are identified, then the solutions to solve them can wait for at least a little while as you and your various teams work on trying to fix them.
However, the most important thing to realize is that the fear of failure is the biggest hurdle to success. Therefore, every failure is a chance to increase your resistance to fear so that the next time you are faced with this debilitating emotion you can more easily overcome it.
As long as you define what every person's role is, you can cut down on the confusion that often accompanies growth. You also need to make sure that ranks are firmly established so that everyone knows who to report to and who to ask for guidance. In addition, each employee’s zone of influence needs to be well defined so that there is less confusion when it comes to areas of responsibility.
However, all of the suggestions in this article are dependent on this clearly defined rank structure that was presented as the first item in this article, so if this step is not performed correctly, then the other steps will probably be useless.
So address this issue first, and you will probably be well on your way to communicating better as your business grows and expands over the next several years.