Increasing Stability in Business: 2 Requirements for Structure

How do you increase stability in business? Can you structure your company in a way that makes it more stable?

Stability in business comes from structuring your processes so that they aren’t dependent on any one person. Knowing how to do this well will make your business more sustainable in the long run.

Read on to learn how to increase the stability of your company and improve its longevity.

Increase Stability Through Structure

A good way of increasing stability in business is through structure. Structure (or order, as he calls it) means delineating and improving your company’s processes so anyone can use them to keep the company running smoothly. By completing this tier, you ensure your company doesn’t rely on any one person for survival. This means your employees can take sick days or vacations without issue, and you can work less.

Should Employees Want To Be Indispensable?

While ensuring companies don’t rely on any one individual may be good for business owners, what if you’re an employee? Many people want to be indispensable at work because it provides job security, some business experts say: If the company can’t function without you, you’re safe from layoffs or firing. However, this goal can be harmful. When you try to be indispensable, you’re more likely to experience high stress or burnout because you can’t easily take sick days or vacations. In addition, if no one else can fill your role, you can’t advance to new positions, becoming trapped in one role.

Instead, these experts suggest increasing your value as an employee by teaching your skills to your coworkers and helping make the company’s employees more capable overall. This is arguably part of delineating and improving the company’s processes—you’re sharing your skills and knowledge on how best to complete processes so other people can do so, too.

This involves two requirements:

Requirement #1: Increase Efficiency

Make your processes more efficient. Many companies use inefficient processes simply because they’re familiar, which wastes money and effort. To avoid this pitfall, look for areas in your company where time is wasted or tasks pile up. Then, change those processes to be more efficient, regardless of how familiar or traditional they are.

(Shortform note: Besides changing outdated processes, you may also have to change your outdated managerial mindsets, as Marshall Goldsmith explains in What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. If you’ve been in business for several decades, you may make assumptions about your subordinates’ desires and behaviors based on your experiences (what you’re familiar with). For instance, you may assume you don’t need to consider employee happiness because you pay them to work, not enjoy themselves. However, the working world has changed significantly in the past few decades, and many of these assumptions can reduce employee retention and company success.)

Often, time is wasted or tasks pile up when only one employee can complete a task. To eliminate these bottlenecks, schedule four-week vacations for your employees. Knowing they’ll be leaving forces employees to document their processes clearly and accessibly—that way, their coworkers can assume those responsibilities and continue normal operations in their absence. You can then adjust these processes for the long term, sharing essential employees’ tasks among several people, so the company no longer relies on them solely.

Encouraging Clear Process Documentation

Even if you can’t send your employees on lengthy vacations, providing guidelines on documentation could help employees clearly share their processes. In Traction, Gino Wickman suggests documenting the 20% of a process that produces 80% of its results. This mirrors the well-known Pareto Principle: the idea that, in many cases, 80% of a result stems from only 20% of your activities. Identifying that impactful 20% shows you where you should devote your time and energy to be most effective and productive. 

When documenting a process, only including essential steps eliminates extraneous tasks, improving efficiency and clarity. While some suggest using this documentation to redistribute tasks and eliminate bottlenecks, Wickman focuses on using it to problem-solve. Problems often arise when a process isn’t completed properly. By reviewing a process’s documentation, you can identify which step wasn’t completed properly and fix that problem.

Requirement #2: Capitalize on Employee Experience

Use your employees’ experience to improve your processes. Your employees have unique skill sets and backgrounds that help them complete tasks and solve problems. They can use this experience to improve the company’s processes, making it more stable and successful. (Shortform note: Some business experts add that you can create a workforce with a wider variety of unique skills and experiences by increasing diversity. In turn, this wider variety helps your employees make better decisions overall, which improves stability, increases revenue, and makes the company more successful.)

To capitalize on employee experience, put them in the right roles. Identify an issue in your company and then evaluate your employees to find one that’s best suited to fix it. Usually, this is an employee who regularly deals with the issue, as they’re more likely to know why it happens and come up with effective solutions. Finally, put that employee in a role where they can fix the issue and adjust the company’s processes to avoid recurrences.

(Shortform note: Some business experts say you can capitalize on employee experience to identify issues, as well as resolve them. This is especially true for frontline managers and workers—employees who are directly involved in the production and delivery of your company’s goods and services. Just as employees who regularly deal with an issue can better resolve it, frontline employees can recognize issues with these core operations that higher management would miss. Once your frontline employees have alerted you to a problem, these experts say you should communicate closely with them and then modify your company-wide policies to reflect their insight.)

Increasing Stability in Business: 2 Requirements for Structure

Becca King

Becca’s love for reading began with mysteries and historical fiction, and it grew into a love for nonfiction history and more. Becca studied journalism as a graduate student at Ohio University while getting their feet wet writing at local newspapers, and now enjoys blogging about all things nonfiction, from science to history to practical advice for daily living.

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