I’ve seen lots of small businesses ramp up to meet soaring demand and then experience significant growth pains.

A consistent failure point is to vastly underestimate the amount of training, instruction, oversight/supervision, and follow-up inspection required when new employees are added. Many small businesses start out with the owner working hands on or in direct, frequent proximity to the other workers. Supervision and quality control happen almost automatically, as a natural consequence of the owner’s presence. When additional crews are added and the owner is no longer present on the job site, quality control becomes a separate, discrete function that requires significant effort.

I love people and I believe in them, yet I’ve seen some good folks do some not so smart things, things that I’d never, ever thought could happen. So I’ve learned the importance of visiting the job site often, giving detailed instructions as to the desired result (leaving some room for initiative as to method, even then laying out guidelines regarding safety, quality, respect for individual, etc. ) then coming back and frequently inspecting for what I expect; trust but verify. Someone new to project management and experiencing snafus asked me is it really necessary? Do I have to show up that often? Yes, Yes, Yes! The less issues you find, the fewer the visits necessary but always err on the side of more visits not less! 

People are good and most workers care but many issues require the ability to see the job from multiple points of view and communicate clearly and appropriately. Quality is both durability and design as well as meeting the expectations of the Customer. EQ is important; for example, job conduct and cleanliness is very different at new construction than remodeling in someone’s home. 

Attitude is crucial, the frame of mind MUST be that you are there to help, offer guidance, direction and insight, never, ever judgmental fault finding. Responsibility yes, blame never! Involvement breeds commitment; people need to know you care. Most folks do the best they can with what they know. If I’m ever in need of humility, I can recall all the ways I messed up when I was young, some of them when I was not so young! But I’m proud to say I always took responsibility and did my best to recover, make things right, and clean up my own mess.

Closing Quotes:

“Productivity and efficiency can be achieved only step by step with sustained hard work, relentless attention to details and insistence on the highest standards of quality and performance.” – J. R. D. Tata, 1904-1993, Indian aviator; business tycoon

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.” – John Ruskin, 1819-1900 (also “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”)

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier