Three ways to successfully grow your business

Costello: Well, then who’s playing first?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: I mean the fellow’s name on first base.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The fellow playin’ first base.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The guy on first base.
Abbott: Who is on first.
Costello: I throw the ball to first base, whoever it is grabs the ball, so the guy runs to second. Who picks up the ball and throws it to what. What throws it to I don’t know. I don’t know throws it back to tomorrow–a triple play….”


There may not be a more classic and beloved comedy sketch than Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s on First.” In the business arena, however, the sketch’s comedic outcome is not so funny. Unchecked and chaotic growth has led many an organization, large and small, into the dead end/crash-and-burn reality that without structure, there can be no sustainable growth.

With that in mind, consider the following three essentials for successful growth:

1. Developing an Organization Chart

An accurate and up-to-date Organization Chart is essential for businesses to grow in a coordinated, planned, and structurally sound fashion. It is one of the first projects we work on with new clients.

Understanding who does what, who reports to whom, and what the lines of communications are is how growth happens in a functional and progressive way. It is the true road map of understanding the path you are currently on and what the milestones along the way will be.

What’s really interesting is that for the most part, all organizations are structured the same. We all have operations, sales and marketing, accounting, office management and administrative tasks and responsibilities. The boxes in our charts are the same.  In the case of small businesses, it becomes even more critical to ask— how many times and in what boxes is his or her name? It becomes quite revealing when that visual goes up on the wall. Only when you see all the functions you are preforming and how many boxes your name is in, can the path to growth shed some of its haziness and clarity set in.

2. Developing Job Descriptions

Once the Organization Chart is complete, the next step for true growth is developing job descriptions (sometimes referred to as position contracts) for every position.  In his book, Three Signs of a Miserable Job, Pat Lencioni makes the compelling case that feelings of irrelevance, anonymity, and most importantly, a lack of accountability are what define professional unhappiness.  Job descriptions are key to addressing all three, particularly the latter.

Job descriptions clearly defines the job and who reports to whom, further reinforcing the proper lines of communication, and it also allows for the development of a performance matrix or key performance indicators. Job descriptions should also address how each position 1) makes the business money and/or improves efficiency, or 2) costs in money/efficiencies. Perhaps most critically, job descriptions address and set team expectations.

3. Implementing Hiring Assessments and Tools

At the end of the day, any company is only as strong as the team running it — from the CEO down to the last box on the organization chart. And the reality of today’s world is that hiring a mistake and having that person leave or be terminated will cost you a minimum of $25,000 in money, time and training. Implementing the right hiring assessment will help ensure that you’re developing a team that is the best fit for your organization. Here’s why:

A recent Harvard University study found that companies who use psychometric job matching assessments (such as ProfilesXT) on job candidates during the hiring process secured a 75 percent success rate. More traditional methods such as interviewing or resume checking garnered much lower success rates (10 percent and 26 percent, respectively).

Beyond the hiring process, assessments are a critical part in the arc of responsible, planned, and structurally sound growth. Jim Collin argues in From Good to Great that it is not only critical to have the “right people on the bus,” but also to make sure they are sitting in the right seat. Have you experienced having a great employee who has bought into the corporate culture and is a great team member, but is underperforming? That person is probably sitting in the wrong seat. An assessment that might allow for a strategic repositioning of that person within the company can be quite powerful. They also allow for more growth from within.

In closing, there is no safety in staying static. This point cannot be understated and is true both for individuals and for business organizations. In reality, one could argue that in business there is no static position. There is constant change, which leads either to contraction or growth. Costello’s final comment is “I don’t care” to which Abbott replies, “He’s our shortstop!”  Be sure to keep the bases on your company covered with the right team member, no matter what their names are.

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