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Published on 2016-11-10

There's a lot of reasons why companies say they can't grow. Whichever the issue may be, it's safe to say there's more than one, and that you're likely looking at the wrong ones.

Remember the old adage – People, Products, Processes?

There are many thoughts about the “order of importance” of these, but none can exist without the other. Arguably, “people” and “processes” are most tightly intertwined, and most overlooked.

It’s important to understand that people drive and implement your processes. If processes are overly complex, waste time, don’t add value and are frustrating to implement, they will be avoided by people. By nature, people will seek the path of least resistance.

In addition, when people are hindered by layers of politics and bureaucracy, streamlined processes won’t help. If your people aren’t empowered, are working within silos, don’t communicate and focus on competing internally, no process will make up for it.

The outcome of this is one of the most common growth barriers. No hard sales push, magic campaign or cost reduction effort will ever get your organization past the growth plateau caused by the impasse of effectively addressing your people and processes together.

If you are truly looking to eliminate this barrier to growth, take an honest look at your people, culture and processes. There are three critical elements to address as you examine this:

1) Give Up Control.

When the chips are down, it’s a natural reaction to batten down the hatches, and increase attention and control to people and processes. Inherently, this is the exact opposite of what you need to do. When you close rank, you shut down access to insights, feedback and information – the most important things needed to change momentum. Shift the focus to “challenge” rather than “dictate”.

2) Have Trust.

As an owner or entrepreneur, it is very difficult to have complete faith and trust in your team. You built this organization by your own sweat and tears. Who knows the intimate details better than you? Keep in mind that you’ve hired a team for a reason – specialists with insights on core business functions, industries and customers. Leverage your investments by truly listening and embracing feedback, good or bad. Similar to a counselor, there might be things you don’t want to hear, but those are exactly the things you need to know.

3) Be a Leader.

It sounds cliche, but above all, be a leader. A leader captains the ship. A leader doesn’t micromanage. A leader helps others be more effective. A leader seeks counsel and advice when needed. Help your team keep focus on the bigger picture, and avoid getting mired in the minutiae of what’s not worked in the past or issues with individual personnel. Guide the team to examine overarching, systemic issues that can be addressed, and more importantly, how they would prioritize and correct them. Empower them to be actively part of implementing the solution – people naturally go above and beyond when they feel a sense of ownership.

All this is easier said than done. Yet, with an open-minded approach, utilizing the insights, feedback and true engagement from your organization, you’ll find your growth barriers are easier to identify and eliminate than you think, and often, cost you nothing to remove. Don’t be your own worst enemy.

About the Author

Andrea Olson, MSC, is a 4-time ADDY(R) award-winner and founder/CEO of Prag’madik, a marketing and communications strategic consulting firm. With 20 years of direct, digital, social, technology and content marketing expertise, Ms. Olson helps industrial organizations exceed customer/client growth and cost-reduction expectations. Prior to Prag’madik, she served as a corporate marketing executive for multiple global manufacturers, including Martin Engineering and Marco Group International. Specializing in B2B branding and marketing operations, Ms. Olson has led multiple global re-branding and product positioning efforts. She is Pragmatic Marketing and SCIP II Certified, with over 40 published works on marketing differentiation and best practices.














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