As you up scale & grow your organisation it’s vital you don’t lose the good stuff you’ve built. The stuff that makes your team tick & your customers returning time & again.

Over the last couple of years we’ve developed and grown a photocopier division & created a cloud based telephone solution. Which has meant growing our team and attracting a new profile of customer.

But we don’t want this growth in customers & team members to dilute the good stuff we’ve already created. And there are a number of potential pitfalls we are trying to avoid.

And we’re thinking there must other organisations in similar positions to us, who could learn from these things too. Things like…

Losing transparency throughout your organisation

Transparency is core to our culture and we trust our team with the critical information about the business, which in turn makes them more effective, trusted, inclusive and happy.

But as we scale & expand our office solutions operation across the north of England, our team will grow from 8 to 60 within 5 years. And it will become much harder to provide the same level of transparency.

For us though. It’s got to be a priority to find a way and we’re sure technology will play a part. Transparency is 1 of the cornerstones of our operation. And unless our team has access to our business critical information in real-time, how can they make fast educated informed decisions that are beneficial to both our customers and the organisation.

Not being honest

When your team are chasing the next big deal or you’ve had a hiccup in your service delivery, it’s very easy to tell a lie or choose not to tell someone about a particular point, which could affect them further down the line.

But for us, honesty is another cornerstone of our organisation & always will be. We’re proud our whole team are honest with our customers and each other, whether are not the other person initially likes what they hear.

Our view is that people can handle the truth and will thank you in the long run for being honest with them. What we don’t do is tell people what they would like to hear or mislead them in any way.

It’s critical this never changes. We’d rather lose business by being honest, than winning it by with-holding information. As when the customer finds out (and they will) your reputation will be in the gutter.  Honesty is en-grained in our DNA & will be a necessity for every new team member.

Not knowing my team

It’s easy (as the team numbers grow) not to bother getting to know new team members who report into others. I’ve worked for a number of large corporate organisations where the people at the top lock themselves away, and never come out on to the shop floor to talk and build relationships with their teams.

In our business the team is the most important factor (along with customers of course). We have spent many years building a high performing team with the right people in the right seats, and this is the source of our success. I personally know every team member and make it my business to build a positive relationship with them. I care and I want them to know it too.

Our team are full of ideas and having this kind of relationship allows them the freedom to speak their mind, to suggest improvements and to develop new products that we can take to market.

No matter how big our team becomes, I will make it my priority to get to know each and every one personally. And make sure each team member is encouraged to have a voice.

Breeding internal politics

1 company I worked for down in London was loaded with internal politics. What I mean by politics, is employees trying to score points with their managers to gain promotions or to get other team members in trouble. Usually by finger pointing, claiming false activities or accusations to get their colleagues in trouble. It was a toxic environment, and 1 to avoid at all costs.

Avoiding this kind of situation comes down to being transparent and building the right team values. The whole team needs to feel inclusive equal & valued. And if you get this right, they will move mountains.

Making things complicated

We’ve seen many organisations (as they’ve grown) become very complicated. Complicated in the products they provide, complicated to communicate with and making it really complicated for their teams to navigate their organisation.

Sometimes we’re not sure if they know how complicated they have become. Maybe it’s down to their size.

The big energy companies are a good example. It can take you a long time to connect with a real person, they make it complicated to understand their packages and each time you call it’s someone different who wants you to repeat everything again.

I once worked for an organisation that had layers & layers of management. And to get paid you had to fill in a form detailing your hours, locations and activities. It was so complicated just to get paid.

Trying to be the hero

Our role is as the guide & not the hero…

We guide our customers to help them identify & solve their office solution problems. Not to ride rough-shot over them, telling them we know best and this is what you must do. Blah blah blah…

Each organisation is involved in their own story & sometimes just need a bit of guidance along the way to identify areas they can improve. And it’s critically important they feel in control throughout the guidance you provide.

Our team will only ever be the guide. Their role is to make sure that each customer is the hero in their own story.

No Unique Selling Point/Proposition (USP)

It seems the larger an organisation becomes the harder it is to set your self apart from the rest. When you are small, you are much more agile & able to change direction quickly. And it’s quite easy to develop your own USP’s.

As an example, here’s a few of ours…

  • We guarantee never to increase your agreement price
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back
  • Free same day delivery for stock items on orders placed before 11am
  • Guaranteed next business day support

So, as we and you continue to grow, we must make sure that our business models still reflects our USP’s. And not let size or complexity get in the way. As if we don’t have USP’s we just look gray, the same as all the rest.

Conclusion…

As you scale and grow your organisation we wish you great success, and hope that you can avoid some of the pitfalls that can happen. And if know of any other pitfalls we haven’t covered, please share them with us too.