I was hired by a client who knew he’d exceeded his capacity to grow and scale his business by himself. He was humble enough to admit he needed help; he’d become the bottleneck in the business.
We strategized ways to outsource duties he was holding onto; optimized systems and processes by upgrading technology; maximized sales to pay for the growth; and organized his team to leverage everyone’s best assets.
Now he finds himself with too many plates spinning due to the increased growth. He’s overwhelmed and developed a pattern of burnout; he runs at an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10 for a few months then crashes. As a result, things start slipping through the cracks. Details get overlooked, projects are delayed, and things needing his attention are ignored.
At a meeting with the Director of Operations and the business owner, I observed they may be the creators of some of their own chaos. I suggested they both let go of some things they’re trying to control. They each took ownership for their part in creating some of the mayhem, and the owner self-coached, offering this solution:
“I know what’s happening. I have too many plates spinning. My worry is if I let go and step away, some of the plates will fall. But when that’s happened in the past, they were the plates that needed to fall anyway.”
Are you struggling with fast growth, and still trying to hold onto control of too many things?
3 Steps to Manage the Growth
Recognize the symptoms of oncoming burnout
You’ve been in your body for a few decades now. You know how it feels when a cold or flu are coming on, right? The symptoms of burnout can be identified the same way. Do you feel something in your physical body when you are nearing burnout? Do you have a pattern of ignoring important projects, or some other marker you recognize? For example, this business owner observed his pattern of avoiding projects for days, pushing back deadlines, instead of completing them on-time.
Call in the troops
Successful business owners and executives have mentors, coaches, mastermind groups, and sometimes even therapists. When the symptoms of burnout are recognized, seek the counsel of your advisors to help you strategize plans to head it off. If your leadership team is part of the problem, this is an essential first step. If you have a solid leadership team, call a meeting with a clear agenda to address only this issue. Perhaps you as the business owner or executive are holding onto too many tasks that can be delegated to the leadership team.
Give yourself permission to let some of the plates fall
In another one of Brené Brown’s best-selling books, Dare to Lead, she dives into the need for more courageous leaders. Courageous leaders let go of control, perfectionism, and fear of failure among other things. My client gave himself permission to let go of the things he couldn’t control, the need to be perfect 100% of the time, and the fear of letting some of the plates fall because he knew the ones that would, were the ones that needed to.
At the end of the meeting with the business owner and Director of Operations, we achieved clarity around next steps to manage the growth and turn down the chaos. Once triage was performed and the bleeding of their energy stopped, we gathering the troops for a 4-hour strategic planning session. The output: structures erected to continue managing long-term growth.