“Keep it simple, stupid.”  Most of us are familiar with this concept.

But I’ve found something interesting as I’ve worked with clients over the years – many are creating unnecessary levels of complexity for themselves, their employees and their customers.

The result is that employees’ jobs become more complicated. Managers have a more difficult time overseeing things. And the customer experience becomes less pleasant.

Below are three common ways that these situations are created:

  1. Failure to train properly.  Most owners and managers go to one extreme or the other when it comes to managing their employees—they either micromanage to the point of suffocation, or they basically do nothing and leave the employee to fend for himself.  We have talked a lot about the dangers of micromanagement—but too little management is equally bad.  Rather than creating systems and procedures to simplify the jobs of their employees, many managers leave details completely up to their employees.  As a result, there is no standardization, there are no universal procedures, and there is constant confusion as employees try to figure things out on the fly.

  1. Failure to communicate clearly with customers.  Is it easy for your customers to understand the goods and services you offer?  Do they clearly understand the benefits you provide?  Is your pricing easy to grasp?  If not, you are asking them to work too hard – and they’ll go elsewhere.  You should be able to clearly explain the benefits you offer in a couple of sentences.  If you can’t, you need to simplify.  That doesn’t mean dumbing down your products or services… but it does mean you need to find a better way to communicate with your customers. Assume that your customer is coming to you with the perspective, “Don’t make me think!”

  1. Unclear organizational structures.  Many small business owners have a poorly defined chain of command.  Many employees don’t know who their boss is, other than thinking the only boss is you.  So you end up wasting time answering questions and solving problems that frankly aren’t worth your time to deal with.  Everyone on your team should have clearly defined responsibilities and a defined supervisor.  You’ll be amazed how effectively your business will run once each employee knows exactly where they fit in the system.

Take a good hard look at your organization. Is there uncertainty and inefficiency that can be eliminated?  Doing so will help you make more money, so it’s an exercise worth pursuing!