One of the greatest challenges for rapidly growing organizations is how to remain nimble in the midst of growth.
As companies scale, more processes are required to coordinate the growing workforce. And the additional management layers that come with them can slow an organization down.
It’s often the reason why large organizations become weighed down with bureaucracy while small companies remain quick and agile.
Consider this recent story from Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes:
“Earlier this year, an employee wanted to send a customer a T-shirt with our logo as a gift. There was nothing special about this particular shirt. It was an ordinary, 100% cotton crew neck. But by the time this employee got approval—factoring in his own time and everyone else’s up the org chart who had to weigh in before signing off on the request—the cost of this t-shirt had ballooned to at least $200.”
Many organizations today are trying to hedge against inflated processes like these by changing their organizational structures. Hootsuite, for example, appointed a “Czar of Bad Systems” to help improve internal processes.
In today’s rapidly-evolving business environment, growing organizations need to remain fast and efficient. And some large, geographically dispersed and complex organizations seem to be able to maintain a level of agility despite their size.
How do they do it?
Nurse Next Door is one organization taking a radically different approach to solving this challenge by embracing a culture of self-leadership. They are one of North America’s fastest growing home care providers, with 150 franchise locations delivering high-quality home care services to seniors.
I recently spoke with Nurse Next Door’s President and CEO, Cathy Thorpe, to learn more about what they’re doing, and why.
Rethinking the Value of Middle Management
Cathy took over operations for Nurse Next Door in 2014 and by the beginning of 2016, she was already questioning the efficiency of their organizational structure.
“I wasn’t seeing the results that justified a structure of middle management, and I started to question the role of management in general. For example, whenever there was an issue in our Care Services call center, such as a scheduling interruption between a Care Service Specialist and a caregiver, the specialist would have to email the management team. Then the management team would review, assess and investigate it, and hours later act on it after reviewing 50 -100 more of these requests. Management, to me, was proving ineffective.”
Thorpe’s epiphany came several months later. “I saw a post on LinkedIn titled, ‘10 Things That Require Zero Talent’ (source unknown). I read it and thought, these are basic adult skills people struggle with, and managers deal with on a daily basis. But these skills require personal accountability and professionalism; not management.”
Middle managers would often deal with people arriving late or unprepared to meetings, for example, and thinking it was ok. These behaviors added unnecessary delays. Key pieces of information were missing from these meetings, thus requiring another meeting.
“Our leadership team also realized we were too involved in operational things,” Cathy shared. “We had our hands too deep in …read more
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