There is a good reason for this.
It has to do with the human capacity for attention. Experts say it’s basically impossible to manage more than seven or eight people. I can attest to that. There have been times when I’ve had more than a dozen people reporting to me — and it was problematic. I was not able to stay on top of their work, and they knew it.
What you may do is spend more time with some of the people who report directly to you and ignore the others for long periods of time.
If your top people are ignored, you are not doing the best job of managing them. You are not provoking them enough, not keeping a close enough eye on their performance, and not giving them the feedback and support they need to be successful.
But even if you do limit your direct reports to, say, seven, you can still lose control when the payroll exceeds 50. Here’s what happens:
Your seven direct reports understand you and your vision. Their subordinates report to them and not you, but the size of your company is still small enough that they see and hear from you all the time. They know what you want even if their boss has different ideas.
But when your company grows to the point where the subordinates of your top people have their own subordinates, the connection to you is all but lost. So what do you do when you have 50 (or 100 or more) employees and you feel like things are falling apart?
First, you should open your mind to the possibility that you aren’t the manager you think you are. In fact, it’s possible that your business isn’t being managed at all.
As an entrepreneur, your attention has been correctly focused on growth and profitability, not management. Your style of leadership might have been formal or casual. Your frequency of communication might have been regular or impromptu. You might have been a nice boss or a bastard. It hasn’t mattered because the seven that reported directly to you adjusted themselves successfully.
Their subordinates made dual adjustments: to their bosses and to you. But now that there are so many employees, you have to find a way to make sure they all understand your business goals and your expectations of them.
For all you know, they are getting bad ideas and directions from their bosses. You can’t see it, because those managers don’t report to you.
So you were right to focus on growth and profits. But now your business is in a different stage. Now you have to introduce some level of formal management throughout the business… which may mean that you have to become a more formal manager yourself. That would entail focusing on three things:
- Controlling growth operations
- Managing maintenance operations
- Communicating your vision
Controlling Growth Operations
Every good-sized business is sure to have multiple operating parts – marketing, sales, accounting, customer service, product development and fulfillment, data collection, etc.
When your business was small, you could give short shrift to some of them. Now they are all important. None can be neglected. So which do you take on personally, and which do you trust to someone else? READ MORE