Mind the Gap

When your business is growing and you are flat out dealing with logistics and the daily stresses that consume your time, don’t forget to “Mind the Gap”

When you are growing, and sales demand is pulling you forward, a significant amount of time goes into ensuring your supply chain, cash flows, equipment and machinery are coping.  You start recruiting more people and ride the wave. The numbers look great and you feel comfortable you are on track.

What is not screaming at you is that you are fast approaching a time when sales growth is going to surpass the capabilities of some of your leadership team.  Sales, orders, staff numbers and production are growing faster than their personal development and capabilities.

They are probably great people and know how to manage a business with turnover of X or increased activity, but do they have the capacity and capability to see the business into the next phase of growth?

In hindsight, the usual answer is “yes” until the gaps appear.

Human nature in the workplace is usually “of course I can.”  Your team leaders may work harder and want to show you they can do it, but there will be a point where they can’t cope with the increased activity anymore.  Something will give.  Either they will personally “crack,” an accident may happen, or an order may be missed. You will then realise, staff have been stretching to cope and have reached their limit.

The big lesson here is not to dismiss the small drops in performance just because the top line and the bottom line are still looking impressive.  Those small drops are early indicators that something is under pressure.  The small hole in the hose is not a problem until the tap gets turned up a little bit more.

Keep an eye on all your KPIs and look for any small drop in performance.  Consider each of these and investigate what is going on.  Take the time to have open conversations with your leadership team and make sure you test their abilities to cope.  This is best done off site, one on one and clear of any phones or interruptions.  It must be an honest, meaningful and mature conversation.

If you need help managing your growth, monitoring your KPIs or setting up good governance structures to focus on what’s important, get in touch with your local business adviser.

Paul Moodie

Managing Partner