How do you make business easier? And how do you seamlessly connect all of the moving parts of a rapidly scaling business so that the entrepreneur can concentrate on growth, instead of splitting focus across every operational aspect of the company?
It might sound like a counterintuitive question, given that organizations generally tend to get more complex and unwieldy as they evolve and scale. But according to Sheri Hamilton, operational mastermind and COO of Cardone Enterprises with Grant Cardone, the key to successful growth is in designing simple, intuitive, and repeatable systems from the ground up.
Sheri was faced with the ultimate challenge when she joined Cardone Enterprises, taking the leap from highly structured and regulated corporate behemoths like JP Morgan Chase, to its polar opposite: the unconventional and highly unstructured world of entrepreneurial startups. So how does one go about bridging the gap?
Sheri breaks it down to a simple three step formula.
- You start organizing and designing systems right away (if not yesterday), starting with a checklist of your must dos and must haves from day one.
- Build an accessible management structure where teams ideally remain small and have open access to their managers.
- And communicate, communicate, communicate.
What Good Is A Process If No One Knows About It? The Art (and Necessity) of Organizational Communication
The importance of strong communication across teams and organizations may sound simple enough, but it tends to be one of the most undervalued and overlooked principles in the workplace according to Sheri. Making sure that new additions or changes to existing policies, products, and procedures are communicated broadly and effectively across the organization is the key to avoiding confusion and chaos—which will ultimately bleed into everything from your profits to the customer experience.
This is especially true as a company grows and begins to hire and onboard more personnel. In addition to weekly management meetings where the leadership team meets privately in order to discuss process and strategy before funneling information out to the rest of the organization, Sheri takes a “daily onboarding” approach to keeping all team members informed, motivated, and invested in the company’s mission and success (more on this in a minute).
Not giving people enough information, or disseminating partially developed initiatives and programs too soon can be just as confusing and chaotic as not having any systems or processes in place at all.
At Cardone Enterprises, the management team executes and troubleshoots first, then rolls out the process to the organization through the management teams to avoid surprises and keep everyone in the loop from the ground up.
Think of communication strategy within the organization in terms of the trickle effect. The leadership and management teams control the flow of information, and have to make sure that it continues to flow and saturate as it’s released. As you’re growing as a company and implementing new processes and procedures, it’s important to consult each department so that people have the information and tools they need to do their job, from the products team to accounting.
“You cannot say something once and expect that it’s received,” says Sheri. “You have to be open to repeating and communicating in different ways, from writing things down to talking about them in meetings, to creating videos and training material. Stay flexible, but have a plan. And involve everyone in the plan.”
Communication gets your business out of your brain and into the set of processes that will drive your mission and culture.
The One Person Org Chart
So when is the “right” time to start planning for scale? When you’ve hired your tenth employee? When you’ve hit the $X million in revenue mark?
According to Sheri, process building and planning for scale begins on day one with employee one: the founder/entrepreneur. In fact, no one is more in need of repeatable systems and processes than the company’s founder, who is responsible for everything in the beginning and therefore ideally suited to build the organizational framework.
Sheri recommends recording and mapping out your processes and procedures as you go, especially when you’re functioning as the executive, marketing, sales, accounting, and operations department all in one.
Start with the org chart, which will probably consist of one or two names in the beginning (hint: that’s OK). This is important to help decide when and how to delegate:
- Who do you need to hire and when?
- What skills and type of experience do they need?
- How much is the position worth?
Pro Tip: The key to ramping up productivity and growth is to do it right away, even if (or especially if) you think you’re “too small” or unprepared (you can refine and adjust as you grow). Procrastination is a ticket to stagnation.
How to Get from Coping Mode to Flow State
As departments grow and you refine your processes, the key to moving from “coping” or criss mode to a steady rhythm and flow is to set up a responsive and intuitive management hierarchy, so that teams and leadership can communicate effectively. Cardone Enterprises has determined that ten is their magic number when it comes to how many people a manager should support.
This makes it possible for managers to give everyone quality and actionable feedback, place ongoing focus on process improvement, and have enough time to devote to the checklist. Putting the right leaders in place helps every department and the processes they rely on to run smoothly.
How do you implement new operational policies and processes from scratch?
Start where you are, use what you have, and build from the ground up. Think “from the bottom up” instead of “top down.” The people in the trenches working on a specific task or problem every day are ideally suited to institutionalize it and make the process better.
The iteration eventually leads to expansion and an organic training framework that is relevant and based in organizational reality, which can be hard to grasp when you’re not directly involved with a department or product and the team’s specific needs. Then you can develop standard training procedures that can be implemented seamlessly across disparate and highly specialized teams.
Invite Employees to “Opt-in” to the Company’s Mission Every Single Day
In addition to creating a standard onboarding and training checklist of everything a new hire needs to know in order to access the tools they need to get to work, Sheri views onboarding and training as an ongoing process.
Regular morning meetings provide an opportunity to share success stories and real life case studies, discuss wins, and to generally re-orient the team every single day to keep everyone motivated and on mission, regardless of external circumstances.
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. But in business the opposite holds true – it’s through consistent, repeatable processes and procedures that companies can scale successfully and achieve sustainable growth.