When you run a business, you need several critical components in place:

Finance. Are you using your numbers to set appropriate targets, drive toward them, and recalibrate as needed?

Strategy. Where do you want to take your company, and what is your roadmap for getting there?

Operations. How well does the business itself run, including service/product delivery?

To build a great company, you need all three elements. But the foundation of any company isn’t finance, strategy, or operations. 

It’s people.

No matter how streamlined or automated your company gets, it will always be the people who define it. People are the bedrock of every organization (even you, SaaS companies).

One of the things our consulting team frequently sees is that entrepreneurs don’t have the right expectations when it comes to their people. 

They want too much, settle for too little, or simply have no idea how to manage people issues when they arise.

Before you can even talk about core values and company culture (both of which are extremely important), you’ve got to understand some fundamental truths about how people work—and how they work within an organization.

Here are 3 key rules about people that I’ve learned (often the hard way) during my 25+ years as an entrepreneur:

Rule #1: People create complexity.

Think way back to when you hired your first employee. You probably brought them on to reduce your workload and expand your operational capacity. 

But you also got a new relationship, another person you had to connect with. You had to transfer some of your knowledge to that team member. There was a new level of complexity created, and some amount of inefficiency, too.

This phenomenon continues as you grow your team. Adding a new team member at 40 hours/week doesn’t, somehow, take 40 hours of work off of your plate. Not to mention that your team members aren’t just interacting with you; they’re also interacting with each other.

The complexity increases significantly until you get something like this:

Image credit: Stop.

Yikes! No wonder you’re spending more time than expected in meetings and administrative work is piling up. Bigger teams = bigger problems.

Rule #2: People determine the pace of your company’s growth.

There’s both good news and bad news here. The bad news is that one C player can crush a smaller organization. Big businesses can afford to hold onto middle-of-the-road talent. Small companies just don’t have the budget for it.

On the flip side, the right hire can skyrocket your company to the next level. When we work with a business that wants to make a big play, we’re looking at their senior leadership and asking, “Who do we need to help us get where we want to go?”

Rule #3: People need management (even the good ones).

I’m a big believer in people management. 

That means proactively talking to your people to anticipate operational or retention issues. 

It means meeting with them weekly to ensure they hit their scorecard targets. It means that you expect to repeat yourself 6 or 7 times before your team begins to “follow the rules.” 

And it definitely means backing up what you ask of them with clear, documented processes that you train regularly. 

***The only caveat is your senior leadership team. One of the hallmarks of a true SLT is that those individuals don’t need to be managed to do their jobs.

What it boils down to is that people are complicated. They need time, attention, and nurturing. 

There’s no secret hack for cutting people out of the picture in your organization.

And frankly, I don’t know why you would want to. When your company gets a win, it’s the people you celebrate with who make the victory extra sweet. 

If you’re often frustrated by your people, first ask yourself if you’re acknowledging these three simple truths.

People are essential to every business. Setting your own expectations correctly can ensure that you build a team of great ones.

Have a specific people issue you want to address? Contact us to chat with one of our consultants. We’ve worked with thousands of team members and can probably help.

All the best,

Eric Crews
President & Founder
Crews Consulting Group

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Skimmed it? Here’s the recap:
–Operational strength should not be a stand-in for business strategy.
–You can set your company up for growth by seeking help from people who have done it before, developing a concrete plan, and staying committed to the process.
–Growing your business–on your timeline–requires strategic thinking and expert support.