With the start of a new business, it is not unusual for employees to wear multiple hats. Tasks are many and funds are limited. In fact, many owners of these small businesses think of themselves as the chief cook and bottle washer- their responsibilities stretch across the entire spectrum.
Even as these organizations grow to 7-10 employees, its common that someone in accounting or sales is also your “computer guy.”
This model can certainly be necessary at first, however, there comes a point when a company’s workload extends beyond multitasking. When multitasking actually becomes a detriment to growth.
Though logic may suggest killing two birds with one stone would be more efficient and cost-effective, these growing businesses begin to realize the opposite. An employee burdened with multiple responsibilities is stretched too thin, becoming a jack of all trades but master of none. These multitasking factors can keep the employee and the organization from performing to the best of their ability.
The issues pile up:
- Constant distraction
- Inability to spend a full day focusing on one task leads to diminished returns
- Researchers in a University of California study found that on average, people with multiple responsibilities switched activities every three minutes throughout the day
- Stress inhibits focus
- Work overload diminishes memory, and the window for mistakes widens
- Busy work is not necessarily important work
- Easy to avoid the tasks the individual does not enjoy, though vital to the role
Systems are far from optimal
Longer periods of downtime spent due to limited IT skill set
So what happens when the small business keeps growing yet still has a multi-hat employee responding to IT issues? Nothing good.
Despite the importance of the IT function and the flaws of the multitasking model, many businesses that eclipse the 20-40 employee count still rely on a multi-hat worker for their technology services. The rational is saving money, when in fact you’re spending more.
As technology advances at neck-break speeds, it becomes increasingly vital for organizations to do everything they can to stay ahead of the competition. Without specialization and a proactive approach to IT, the growth of these expanding companies begins to quell.
The realization may be a bit painful; the strategy that got your business off the ground may be the same that limits its growth. There will come a time when you’ll need specialize IT.
I recommend you stay focused on what you’re best at… your own business and leave the information technology to a trusted managed services partner. Your overburdened employees will thank you. So will your bottom line.