When You Are the Bottleneck

bottleneck in business processes
Are you the bottleneck?

There’s not a rule book for how your business is supposed to run. I have seen all kinds of business operations and can only conclude that there are a lot of styles and options.

Ultimately, the business runs according to the leadership. If the leadership values clarity and collaboration or systems, then the overall business benefits.

But sometimes, the decision-making process gets clogged up. Instead of empowering people and investing in well thought-out strategies and systems to operationalize customer service, the leader is the bottleneck.

When information, decisions and actions should flow, they get clogged up. It’s tragic and stunts the growth and opportunities of a business whenever there is a bottleneck.

Business is about a goal of some sort. Servicing the customer, selling more product or increasing production are examples of specific goals, and when there are dependencies between people, the last thing you want to be is the bottleneck.

If you find yourself holding things up, then you have choices:

  1. Make decisions faster and be decisive.
  2. Let someone else take more of the load and respect their decisions.
  3. Get out of the way.

When you don’t do any of these things, that is when the problems arise. If you won’t lead or will not follow, then you have to get out of the way. If you don’t do that, then there is dysfunction.

I guess I have seen my fair share of people who are supposed to lead and they don’t. They become the bottleneck and wonder why their business is not running as well as it could. I have the advantage of being a professional outsider to the situation and can see it more clearly. The best I can do is help someone recognize that they are not leading, following or getting out of the way. Doing any of these will alleviate the pressure of being a bottleneck.

The Truth About Your Business

One thing I feel confident about is that your business should run efficiently and functionally. But it’s that old saying, “Business is easy if it weren’t for the people.” The root problem of bottlenecks come from being unable to recognize when to defer and get help or from the inability to take action when required.

There are systems that will work for you. There are processes and steps that would work in synchrony to make things run efficiently. There are likely multiple ways to get to the goal.

Now this may sound too direct, but if you want success and have had enough pain to realize it, then try getting out of the way. Being in the way is one major bottleneck that can ruin a business and morale. It comes down to whether the goal is more important than all the other factors and forces which cause bottlenecking in the first place.

At some point, you get sick and tired of being sick and tired.

When you look at your business, think about why the bottlenecks are tolerated and even accepted. They shouldn’t be there. You should be experiencing much more success. That is, if you really want it.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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