At the beginning of a business’ life, the operations of the company tend to be simple. Often, businesses start with just a single staff member – the entrepreneur behind the company, who works every hour possible to turn their business idea into a reality.
As the business grows, operations become more complex. Eventually, a business can reach a point where it spans multiple employees who are working in multiple departments.
This growth is, of course, a huge positive: it suggests that the business is viable, the idea behind it sustainable, and the future bright for the company. However, for the entrepreneur who had the initial idea – and once singularly controlled every aspect of the business process – this expansion can be challenging. The business that was once just-for-them is now worked on and engaged with by dozens of different people, and their role is now one of managing the different departments rather than working on the business’ core product or service in and of itself. Essentially, the entrepreneur becomes the center of a complex network; the keystone of the company, the person to whom all departments report, and the ultimate decision-maker that governs the direction of the business.
If you find yourself in the above situation, adjusting to this change – and your new role within the organization – can take time. Managing a company full of thriving departments and multiple employees is very different to the life at the start of your business, when you controlled everything related to the business production yourself. This change means that you will likely find yourself facing challenges that you simply couldn’t have imagined at the start of your business life – and arguably the biggest of these is establishing and maintaining business cohesion.
What is business cohesion?
Business cohesion is a simple term that can be used to describe how the different areas of your business interact with one another. It includes considerations such as:
- How projects that are worked on by multiple departments are managed
- How well departments are able to communicate with one another
- The ability of staff to discuss important matters, share ideas, and brainstorm when separated from one another either by the layout of your premises or remote working
- How well each area of your business is able to work to meet the common goals of your overall enterprise
Managing the above areas can be extremely demanding of your time – and all the more so if you are an introvert. As you may have noticed, many of the areas of business cohesion require communication and interaction between departments; if you are having to coordinate this, then it naturally follows that you will have to excel at communicating and interacting with others. For introverts, meeting these needs is likely to deplete your energy reserves – and potentially even cause a large amount of stress in the process – so, unfortunately, you may find business cohesion particularly troublesome.
So what can you do?
The issue of cohesion is one that introverted entrepreneurs have to address head-on. Cohesion is simply too important to the productivity and efficiency of your business to be overlooked and, unfortunately, it is unlikely to happen naturally. In most businesses, departments tend to be isolated within their own remit, and you may even experience competitiveness or discontentment between the departments without a focus on cohesion – your SEO staff may complain of the work produced by your web design staff. Departments have a tendency to cluster together into groups rather than seeing themselves as part of the bigger picture – which is, of course, damaging to your business.
So, given that cohesion cannot be overlooked, how can you achieve it without causing yourself unnecessary stress in the process?
Opt for software solutions wherever possible
It’s all-too-easy for an entrepreneur to become a conduit between departments. As you frequently interact with both departments, you may find yourself being asked by a department to inform another department of a certain fact.
This is simply unsustainable; your role is to manage the departments, not act as a go-between. This issue is best prevented with a company-wide ERP system installed by the likes of ATB-Tech.com, as this can ensure departments have a simple method of internally communicating, monitoring developments, and ascertaining the status of a project for themselves.
Only intervene to solve problems
Often, business departments will default to an isolationist stance, and will feel unwilling to discuss projects with one another. Instead, they will turn to you, as both sides feel you are far more familiar to them, making it easier to talk to you than approaching a member of another department.
While you will need to lead the way on some matters, departments shouldn’t need you to intervene and issue instructions for basic operational processes – and if you are forced to do so, you may inevitably find yourself micromanaging which, as CareerAddict.com detail, can have extremely negative consequences.
To prevent issues such as those mentioned above, discourage the practice of departments turning to you as a first port of call by only agreeing to intervene if there is an outright problem that cannot be solved. If the departments are just trying to conduct a simple project, then your involvement should not be required, so refuse to engage unless both departments have reached a stalemate that requires a deciding vote.
Encourage departments to meet without your presence
Many companies hold regular Head of Department meetings, which is undeniably a useful tactic in encouraging departments to communicate with one another. However, you can make sure these meetings are all the more effective if you don’t attend.
If you go to a Heads of Department meeting, then everyone will naturally defer to you, and you will likely find yourself speaking more than anyone else in the room. Essentially, you’ll become the conduit again. To avoid this, insist on regular Heads of Department meetings but do not attend; ask an administrative assistant to take notes instead, which you can then review at a separate point in time.
When your business has grown to a point where you have multiple departments working to achieve the business’s goals, good cohesion is vital. With the ideas above, you should be able to encourage cohesion in a way that is suitable for the business, and avoids placing undue stress on yourself.