The first to die in a crisis are those companies where there was a mess even without the crisis. If in a growing economy there will always be a place for even poorly organized businesses that work “as the cards fall”, then in the context of narrowing markets, growing competition and declining incomes of the population, this is unlikely. So it’s time to think about automation and creating an adequate organizational structure in the company. And for starters, it will be useful to read a case from the founder of a network of schools EnglishPapa Sergei Sulimov. He has already passed this way.
I have been in the education business for over 20 years. He managed to open an educational center, a network of English schools EnglishPapa in three countries and launch online courses during a pandemic. But not everything was so smooth: after 10 years of work, I noticed that some things in our company were close to failure. The team worked chaotically, I literally lived at work and solved many tasks for my subordinates. The organizational structure helped me to break out of the routine and automate the work in the company. I’ll tell you how to repeat my experience.
What was the problem
As a leader, I spent 12 hours a day on routine tasks. He left early in the morning and returned late at night. I could not fully devote time to my family, self-education, development, hobbies. Due to the operational affairs in which I was drowning like in a swamp, I could not pay attention to the global strategic issues of promoting our company in the market.
Yes, I was tired both mentally and physically. By 2015, our company had about 500 employees. As the company grew, so did the volume of my work. Everything was tied only to me. I could buy desks for classes and order printer paper. They came to me about any little thing: even if the handle in the office toilet broke.
I was the liaison between different departments. Nobody really understood what they were supposed to do. We already had more than 500 specialists on staff, we opened 27 branches throughout the country, and there was no satisfaction from success. I was frightened by the prospect of settling down at work, I was literally torn. The day came when I decided enough was enough, something had to change.
I began to read management literature to understand what I was doing wrong. I drew a diagram of my company. I tried to reflect with arrows who reports to whom and is responsible for what … And I saw chaos.
What errors were noticed
Mistake 1: Everyone did everything
We did not have clearly defined regulations for each employee. Therefore, if it was necessary to solve something quickly, everyone was busy, “dealing with everything”, but at the same time, as if nothing important. It was difficult to rely on someone, promptly ask for something, or even scold for failures, if it was not clearly defined in the company who was responsible for what.
Mistake 2. No one was responsible for some tasks
Tasks emerged for which no one was responsible. We didn’t have an agreement on who would fix the printer if it broke down, who would choose high-quality classroom furniture. That’s why I had to deal with it myself … Every task in the company must be assigned to someone, otherwise it will be decided by the head.
Mistake 3. Double submission
Some employees reported to two bosses and worked for several departments. For example, they were subordinate to the departments of both sales and marketing. From this they were torn, preferring to perform the tasks of a more strict leader.
Mistake 4. Cross subordination
Some employees could head one of the departments, but at the same time be subordinates in another. For example, a marketer could run a call center. Such cross subordination should be avoided – the boss should be the boss.
Mistake 5. Toxic star employees
There were also toxic employees in the team who “starred”. The fact is that they were responsible for too many tasks and could behave toxicly: dictate their own rules, manipulate the dismissal. Their loss for the team would be critical, although working with such people became problematic.
Experience has shown that you need to move away from multitasking. Each specialist should have a narrow range of tasks: this way it is easier to replace him. His departure for sick leave, maternity leave or dismissal will not be a collapse for the entire team.
Mistake 6. Employees did not always understand the meaning of their work
My observations showed that some of our specialists had a poor understanding of why they come to work and what managers expect from them. For example, in the call center of our sales department, an employee worked who was convinced that the more calls she received, the better she did.
I had to convey to her that her result is the number of sales per day and the average bill. After all, it does not matter to our company that it can talk on the phone with 10 or 20 people, but at the same time they will not sign up for us even for a trial lesson. Its result is the number of these people who will be willing to buy lessons from us, and the amount they will be willing to spend on these lessons.
The scheme that changed everything
I came across a scheme developed by the American writer and public figure Ron Hubbard. It is used by many companies to achieve the ideal structure for the interaction of employees and their functions. It’s simple: the whole team is divided into seven departments, which are divided into 3-4 departments, with a detailed description of the positions of employees and their tasks.
Almost all of our departments already existed, they could simply be called differently. Yes, and in many other companies they are: you don’t have to restructure the structure much, except to adapt it a little.
We have seven departments and three departments in each of them:
- The executive branch, where the office of the owner, corporate relations and the director is allocated.
- The construction department consists of the departments of personnel, communications, inspection and reports.
- The distribution department is the departments of promotion, sales, as well as the department of understanding (responsible for communicating the value of our products to customers).
- Financial department – departments of income, expenses and accounting.
- The training department consists of the training department, the planning and support department.
- The department of qualification is divided into departments of quality, staff training and improvement.
- The PR department includes the departments of PR, introductory services and the department for working with partners.
Next, I began to define for each department and employee its valuable end product (VCU). In fact, this is the result of the work, which is important for the company. I had to understand why the company needs a specific department and specialist, what benefits it should bring. I will give a couple of examples of which CUCs we have identified. For the construction department – providing the company with qualified personnel and its adaptation, for the distribution department – a constant increase in net profit, for the training department – timely provision of high-quality educational services at the best cost.
It is important for employees to measure and monitor ICT. For sales, you can take into account the amount of sales or the average bill, for an advertising specialist – the number of leads. These indicators need to be tied to KPIs. Only in this way will your employees be motivated.
Life under the new rules
After the formulation of the ICU, we described in detail the tasks and functions for which each employee is responsible. We created training courses for all specialists and constantly update them. This helps new employees get used to it quickly.
Adaptation stretched for about three months. Not everyone immediately accepted the innovations. There were also those who were skeptical about the organizational structure. But I did not give up, because I understood that it would be better for everyone. Time has shown that not everyone can cope with the work under the new regulations. I had to make personnel changes, there were some layoffs, but this is a normal process.
During these three months, I myself have adapted to the fact that now I can trust many tasks to others, I struggled with thoughts that, they say, I will do everything faster and more efficiently. Now we do not have “no one’s” affairs and tasks.
What result did it give
Several years have passed since I was able to build an organizational structure. This step completely changed my life and business. I no longer drown in the routine, do not disappear in the office until late at night, I can finally control the work of departments according to a well-established scheme.
I have time for my family, self-development, writing a book about studying abroad. I have been living in Bali for over a year now and I manage the company remotely.
Innovations have helped us survive crises, including the pandemic. In 2020, we were on the verge of bankruptcy. Thanks to the organizational structure, we quickly reoriented to online work – we rewrote the regulations, installed other CUCs and created a new product – online classes at the EnglishPapa school.
Our profit at the beginning of 2020 was at the level of $ 3 thousand per year, and in the summer of 2021 we were able to increase these figures to $ 58 thousand. Now the time has come again when it is important to be flexible, and the profit will directly depend on this.
It is much easier to pitch ideas and win over investors when the company is in perfect order and there is an organizational structure. I have never regretted that at the time I decided to change everything.