So, your company is off to a great start. You’re thriving, even. You’re finally starting to see some returns on your investments and your customers are happy. You’ve figured out how to grow an agency and it’s all working out great. And yet, there seems to be a problem. Your income might be there, but it’s still pretty small. Despite this early success, it’s entirely possible things might go awry if it continues “business as usual.” While there could be a number of reasons for this, one of the major setbacks a seemingly excellent business that just fails to grow may have is called bloat. Essentially, this means you’ve got too many employees. Today, we’ll cover how to identify business bloat in your company and what you can do to deal with it for the health of your agency going forward.
1. Check the Halls
While it might sound a bit goofy, one of the signs of potential business bloat in a physical business is that there are simply too many people running around the office. Making full use of your space is one thing, but being completely overloaded with people to the point that no one can freely walk through the halls is a bad situation. This will hopefully be something you never encounter as you won’t be hiring so recklessly as to reach it, but let it stand as a reminder to manage your expectations with regard to staff numbers and how much employees can delegate their work down the chain of command.
2. Assess Performance Regularly
Performance reviews are just good practice when running a company but can also serve the double purpose of weeding out bloat. If you’re consistently finding that there are many employees who don’t do a full day of work — not for any kind of laziness or insubordination, but because they simply don’t have enough work to do — it may be worth it to reconsider how many people you need on specific tasks. Consolidating job duties onto fewer employees is usually a better idea than having multiple people on the payroll doing tasks that could be handled by only a fraction of the current workforce. It also tends to be cheaper to give your best employees a raise to handle more duties than to continue paying multiple full salaries for the same amount of work.
3. Reevaluate Your Hiring Process
Business bloat starts at the hiring process, so it’s smart to go back every so often and see exactly what that process entails. You don’t want to make your business so inaccessible that no one but the most prestigious Ivy League grads could possibly earn a spot behind a desk, but you also don’t want it so lax that anyone who walks through the door can start earning a paycheck. This sounds fairly straightforward and obvious, yet far too many businesses will find that they aren’t properly vetting candidates if they’ve begun to bloat. This also covers things like openings for new positions. Ideally, your hiring manager will need to justify why you should take on new members instead of restructuring to fill that need. Meeting every new challenge with a new employee is a tempting but ultimately harmful response, so train yourselves out of it before it’s too late.
4. Understand Your Objectives
Having a clear goal for your business is instrumental in being effective, but this philosophy also applies to the tasks within your business. Ideally, you’ll be hiring people to meet specific goals and complete specific tasks. Those tasks may be ongoing, or they may be short term. Either way, it’s necessary to know when those jobs will be complete (if ever) and what to do once that happens. In simple terms, if someone has finished their job and there’s nothing left for them to do, it doesn’t make much sense to keep them on. Learning how to grow an agency can be a tricky thing. One thing you’ll need to understand is business bloat, both how to identify it and how to fix it. Try to keep these aspects in mind when you look for it so you can effectively keep your company running smoothly. If you’d like some help with this from a veteran marketing strategist and business consultant, get in touch with me, Eric Elliott, for tips and tricks on how to better manage your agency.