Building a company is a bit like raising a family

Without being paternalistic, there is a similarity between raising your children and getting your employees to buy into your goals and philosophy and work with you in the way you want to run your company.

Like your children, your employees will all have their own personality and ambitions, behaviors and attitudes but to successfully form either a team or a family, you need some shared values that all buy into. If you can have your children buy into the fact their brains need enough rest to become successful, you won’t have to police the bedtime day to day. If you have them buy into what is right and wrong in this world, you won’t have to trace their internet behavior as much.

In a similar way you need to ensure that employees buy into the company’s goals values and culture.

Inspiration motivation quotation Success does not going to you, you go to it  and cup of coffee

Inspiration motivation quotation Success does not going to you, you go to it and cup of coffee

Not all buying into the company’s belief system and culture means that some won’t  cooperate as successful as you would like and you will have to correct, adjust, intervene and change the behavior before it causes confusion with the others. We are not talking about all employees drinking the proverbial “kool aid” but rather all employees understanding clearly what the goals of the company are and in what way you want to achieve them. Everyone is responsible for their part in making it happen and you can’t work with someone who either does not buy into it or is confused about it.

It starts with recruitment. Focus in your recruitment efforts on finding out if your prospects would be able to buy into your company’s culture. Yes you do want diversity of thought to take the opportunities provided by critical and creative thinking but you need to balance it with uprooting the basics of the organization.

Think of a clear example in a company that produces organic food. Yes the non organic food will be cheaper and easier to produce and market but that’s not who you are as a company and if you have employees not buying into putting in the extra efforts to produce and market organic food, you need to change them out for those that can fully support the companies philosophy.

If it is your company’s culture to look forward, share information and report mistakes as soon as possible to learn from it and correct it speedily, you can’t have some that won’t share information or point fingers to apportion blame. That is counter to what you try to achieve and they should either change their attitude or their career choice.

To create and maintain this strong company culture and keep the focus on the companies goals, you need to over communicate it. Not just the occasional newsletter or email but really connecting with people to inspire them to do the same with the groups they are responsible for. You will need to hold people accountable for the steps they take that are not in line with the company’s culture. These things do not have a direct correlation with commercial success. One of your key sales people may not have the right approach in how you want your clientele to know your company and so even if she or he is a great sales person, you may need to change them for someone who is equally capable but works in the way you want to run the company.

Building this accountability in from day one will serve your company well over the years and when executed well can survive scaling of the company to huge sizes.

Action: required and desired

To get anything going in your company, some action will be required.

Let’s kick some familiar open doors:

“There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” John F. Kennedy

So old but still so true

Also: “We judge ourselves by our intentions, others judge us by our actions”

So how do your create some action that will be successful and help you accomplish the goals? There are three main points to consider:

Understand where you are

It may now be known by my readers that I’m a stickler for Goal Clarity and understanding where you are means in this context, understanding thoroughly what the goals are and what should be done to accomplish them. Without that knowledge you won’t be able to develop any action.

Know your resources

Consider your network, your budget, your co-workers, employees and support services. Ensure you enlist whoever and whatever is possible to get support for your intended action. The first rule of management is “ask help when solving problems” so look around you to see and recognize the resources available. Great start-ups fail because they are underfunded or lack the proper resources to scale when the first wave of success rolls in. Don’t make that mistake but be prepared with all your resources.

Start!

Do something to start and let people know about it. Some teams take an inordinate amount of time planning the perfect action but alas when they get ready to take action the momentum is gone and their action, however powerful it was, has been sideline by a sub-optimal but quicker action of another team. Just get started. Take a small step, celebrate that you have started and move forward. Communicating your start is at the same time a good encouragement to continue. It is like going on a diet or stop smoking, if you share your intention you can count on your environment to “shame” you into continuing. Timing has a lot to do with creating an action that will be successful.

Don’t go on a diet; change your life style

As you grow older you probably have experienced that the pounds have a tendency to stick around and your condition slowly but surely deteriorates. Where are the years that you were trim and fit and watched every calorie that you ate? You probably have a growing awareness of the problem but as it slowly progresses you do not have an urgent need to do something about it.

It is sometimes difficult to make sudden and radical changes. Radical changes, like a diet, also have a tendency not to stick but slowly but surely change back to the old familiar ways. When you talk to health experts they will tell you that well planned slow changes in the right direction are the better way to go. When you want to go and run a marathon, do not start with half a marathon but build it up and start going around the block for the first period until you get some more endurance and muscle.

freedigitalphotos.net | Stuart Miles

freedigitalphotos.net | Stuart Miles

Why this piece about health and diet? Well there is a analogy with your management of your company. Over the years you have become used to the maybe less than stellar performance from some team members, you may not have cut back expenses and staff as the business got tougher and you may not have maintained enough focus on the core processes but allowed some shortcuts and individual heroic bypasses.

So with that, now is as good a time as any to start and change it all back into the right direction. Review your goals, are they clear? Clear for everyone? Review your resources; are they tight and what you need? Can you grow this way? What changes would you make in an ideal world? Review your communication; is it targeted, does it actually cause the behavior change you intended for it to create?

Instead of announcing a major shift in direction and immediate changes in policies or staffing, map out a plan to, over time, get to where you would like to be. Change by evolution, not revolution. Adjust and look for opportunities to move in the right direction. Change of life style is the way to go, crash diets are only good to fit into a wedding dress within a week, but will regrettably later cause some health problems or binge eating. Be clear about your vision though, but also be clear about the path forward and the gradual change you intend to make. Manage the expectations of your stakeholders and your process will be smooth.