We have another challenge, in our big little growing business.
Well, it’s another challenge on top of the last challenge, and the one before that, and so on.
It must be a pretty common one for growing businesses like ours, and as opposed to being a new challenge it’s more of an ongoing one, that keeps on changing and evolving.
We have, unbelievably, three full time members of staff, plus me and D. That’s a lot of people supported by this business. And that’s fine. The wage bill is pretty hefty for sure, but we’re covering it and doing ok.
I believe, and I’ve witnessed over and over, that anything new attracts a honeymoon period. During this time, everything goes so unbelievably well it feels perfect. And then the honeymoon ends and real life sets in and with that come all the things that were hidden in those first few months.
Out comes the reality of the flawed human being at the centre of all this. I guess it means different things in each situation but often it’s bad habits, laziness, slightly sloppy sides.
Our most recent employee, K, has demonstrated this perfectly.
We pride ourselves on a quality job with a quality finish even if it means going to the ends of the earth to achieve that. And his first two months or so were flawless. This past month the cracks have started to show. And by starting to show I mean some serious mistakes that have delayed the jobs by several days and meant we’ve needed to purchase replacement materials. All in all a few things that we could have got annoyed about.
But then I found out that D hadn’t been doing much training with him. I can only assume that because he was hired as an experienced guy, D felt perhaps intimidated to do the training, or he thought he wouldn’t need it, or – probably the most likely – he got a bit lazy about it.
(So there’s a learning – another step as we become a really really enormous very small business – now we factor training into our employment process. AKA there’s a reason companies have a box-tick training structure!)
The business has suffered, slightly. Our finishing of jobs has started to get a bit messy, again. Any profit has started to evaporate. So yesterday morning’s meeting was a bit of a rant. But mostly a promise to go back to basics. Because the more time spent at the beginning means more time saved at the end. And I think D can finally see that.
And then, of course, because we overran on last week’s job, D has spent the last two days finishing it off leaving the other two on the new job.
I am stuck typing this in a café with the world’s worst wifi and phone signal, waiting while the new van gets fixed (she’s under warranty so it’s ok).
T text me earlier to say he is worried about team moral. I am desperately aware that low moral is contagious. The two lads are feeling down. D is tired and down. T is going to be feeling down if we are not careful.
I am a bit scared, but I guess that’s pretty normal, for a growing business?