The Top Nine Causes of The Plateau Pattern™: Fear of Losing Control


Steve is the President of a 25 person company. Somehow the fun seems to have been replaced by long hours, worry, and increased tension.  A variety of reasons are given by each person, but it also seems that talented employees are leaving before their potential has been realized.

What do you think?  Is the company positioned for growth? A plateau? Implosion?

Although such a short vignette can’t possibly convey the whole story, incredibly there IS enough information here to prompt some relevant questions.

The fact is there is a dramatically increased risk of a plateau when a company hovers around 25-28 employees.  It is a matter of human behavior, span of control, and the time available.  The classic scenario is that important decisions are still being made by the President despite the existence of a handful of managers. As the demands of the business increase, employees look to the managers to set direction, prevent problems, update marketing & sales, and upgrade systems. But decisions don’t come quickly enough through the group of managers. Ambitious employees get tired of waiting, conclude that their suggestions are being ignored or discounted, and start to look elsewhere.  Sometimes a small group of employees convince themselves that they could run the business a whole lot better and leave to create a competing company. The classic 25 person company quickly drops to 18 employees.  If the President cannot or will not see that his/her control issues probably created the exodus, the company will simply refill vacated positions…only to hit 25 people and bounce back to 18 again.

So, the first round of questions would be related to the President. Is a fear of lost control involved? The second round of questions would be related to the composition of the group of managers.  If the company follows the classic pattern, the group of managers will be hard “workers” who are really “followers” rather than leaders.

The fourth top cause of The Plateau Pattern™ is fear of losing control.


About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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