I’ve observed an interesting pattern when it comes to small business teams. There are several poor or mid skill level employees and one high performer that the business owner relies heavily on. This person is the business’s “Hank Hill.”

If you don’t know who Hank is, he’s the protagonist of a cartoon series titled, “King of the Hill.” Hank lives in Arlen, Texas and works at a propane reseller. He takes great pride in selling “propane and propane accessories.” He’s extremely conscientious and extremely conventional.

Hank’s boss on the other hand is a ne’re-do-well named Buck Strickland. He’s lazy, cheats on his wife, gambles at work, and is the opposite of high integrity Hank.

And Buck’s propane business is completely dependent on Hank.

I first noticed this pattern in my own business and then began to notice it in other entrepreneurs’ businesses.

My theory is that there’s always going to be a stand out in a team. Whoever this person is, their capabilities will grow faster than others because you will look to them first for solutions. In a relatively short period, their skill leaps ahead and you rely on them to the point that they’re essential to the business.

This introduces a couple of problems, but as it pertains to business growth, your Hank can actually become a limiting factor.

This is because Hank Hill is an enabler for Buck’s poor behavior. Similarly, your Hank may enable you to run parts of your business in ways that would normally lead to poor performance. They make it so that you can get by without fixing problems. The consequence of this isn’t that the problems go away, it’s that your business growth becomes limited by Hank’s time and energy.

The solution is to deconstruct what they provide:

  • What roles do they fill?
  • What value do they create?
  • What systems are they a central hub in?

Once you can see all the pieces in this puzzle, you can reorganize it into a more optimal pattern and split off responsibility to other people and resources.

The additional bonus to this is that while your Hank may have prevented your business from growing, they also are not being employed to their full potential. It’s likely that they could be a system developer, manager, mentor, or trainer.

Deconstructing Hank’s role enables you to expand capacity. It can unlock the next stage in your business’s growth if you’re not fully utilizing customer demand.

But that’s not all.

In nearly all small businesses, even if you don’t think you have a Hank, you have a Hank. Who is this mysterious work horse? It’s you.

The limits to your growth are the same, but fortunately, the solution is too.