In general, business growth is a sign of success. However, when a company grows rapidly and lacks the necessary policies and procedures to sustain that growth, it can eventually lead to trouble.
Many Forbes Coaches Council members have seen how businesses without sustainable systems and processes can grow beyond their capacity, impacting both employees and customers. Below, 15 members share signs that a business is growing too fast and how leaders can manage the growth before it spirals out of control.
1. Managers are doing the work of their teams.
Signs that a company is growing fast are when managers do work that is the responsibility of their team. We’re used to being “doers,” but as we grow into leaders, we need to be better at setting achievable goals and supporting our team to do the work to get there. Managers caught in the trap of “doing it” don’t realize that their roles need to change as the company grows. – Katie Anderson, Katie Anderson Consultant
2. Recruit quickly and fire slowly
Growth is generally balanced between sales and delivery. However, when sales exceed a business’s ability to deliver, the solution is often to hire no one and fire no one. This also creates a very negative impact on the existing workforce as new C team players enter the country and are seen as kings. – Chris Averill, Northford Capital
3. High turnover
If your best performers are leaving your company despite growth, it may be because they don’t buy into your vision, because your leaders don’t believe they have the ability to achieve it, or because they don’t feel a real connection between their individual ambitions. Your common mission. – Claire Chander, Talent Development
4. Failure to meet the increasing demand for products
A sign that a company is growing too fast is that it is unable to meet the increasing demand for its products, which leads to a blockage of cash flow and a significant decline in customer satisfaction. – Alexandra Friedman, Friedman Business Solutions
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5. Systems that cannot handle the added volume
One sign that a company is growing fast is if its systems and processes can handle at least double the volume of business. If you normally bring in 10 new customers per month, and then double that to 20 new customers per month, can the systems and processes for handling customers handle the increased volume? As companies grow rapidly, the systems that work for a startup or small business don’t always continue to work. – Jessica Strode, she buys.
6. A sharp drop in employee enthusiasm
As a business scales, it’s normal to have increased responsibilities. Your employees may be working more with no improvement in their pay. This is a major cause of low morale, which leads to declining productivity and poor customer service. – Oluwashogo Oyeniyi, Dr. Shogo’s advisor
7. Growing lack of communication and monitoring
If you’re growing too fast, there will be warning signs that things are about to go wrong before you have to turn over employees and customers. Signs of rock-star employees not being prepared for meetings, people not talking before a presentation or decision-making session, people dropping balls, and lack of follow-through on key processes. – Christine Grimm, Aria Consulting International
8. Chaos and disorganization in the company.
A company can grow rapidly without the right hand knowing what the left hand is doing. How does this look? On the difference between being “messy” and “messy”. “Chaos”, although it can be ambiguous, is a sign of sustainable, rapid growth. When there is an obstacle, it works. “Chaos” is total chaos and disorganization. This affects all areas of the company. – David Youdis, Possible Self
9. Increasing customer satisfaction
If the fulfillment of current customers deteriorates and customer satisfaction begins to decline significantly, this is a very serious sign that a company is more concerned with growth than providing quality products and services. While the rapid growth of acquiring new customers may feel exciting, retention, referrals, reputation and word of mouth are invaluable assets to a company. – Sunny Smith, Empowering Women Physicians
10. Employees not sharing their thoughts openly
If employees do not express their thoughts and opinions clearly, this means that trust, respect and safety are affected. This could be an issue with one leader, general management, the climate among team members, or employees not being bought into future changes. Pause to talk one-on-one with people to get to the root cause. Sometimes growth seems to slow down to go faster. – Esther Weinberg, Ready Zone
11. Employees who oppose their assigned duties
When your employees are subtly or actively resisting their assigned tasks, especially consistently, try to get to the root of the problem by asking, “How are you feeling?” Now is the time to get curious and ask open-ended questions. They may be overwhelmed by inadequate or inefficient systems or resources, or concerned about the potential impact of company growth on their security. – Vered Kogan, Momentum Institute
12. Being unfaithful to your mission and strategy
The key to sustainable growth is staying true to your mission and strategy. The best fast-growing companies know what they do well and consistently focus on what differentiates them in the marketplace. The strategy should tell you what must be. What to do and what to do no i don’t do. Trying to be all things to all customers is a burnout and struggle. – Bill Berman, Berman Leadership Development
13. Inability to onboard new people
Rapid growth is always a difficult story – it can constantly “light up” the company and sometimes push it over the edge. Nobody knows that hyper-growth is easy. To grow your business, you must strive to become the best rider. New colleagues decide whether to stay, engage and be productive or leave within the first 100 days. Without enough capacity to onboard new people, growth will not work. – Katrina Schmidt, Inspiration and Discipline
14. Falling satisfaction levels for both customers and employees
When a company grows rapidly, it puts stress on people and services. The quality of experience and satisfaction levels for both customers and employees suffer as a result. Consider your net advertiser score, online reviews, and both sides of the coin. If these are dipping, readjust the stretches that cause the most friction and pause. Aiming for sustainable development. – Liz Whitney, Cov
15. Being reactive and focusing on bad activities
When a company is growing rapidly, I often see people focusing on the wrong work. In other words, they are more active and can swing from one thing to another, with little time to pause and reflect on their priorities. A simple but powerful exercise is to determine the three main areas of focus and the percentage of time to spend on each in order to have the greatest impact on the business. – Nena Newberry, Newberry Solutions