Some people will look at this title and presume that being passionate would be the case for everyone, but we are all different and have different motivations. Some want the business for a great lifestyle and for others it becomes a passion where their only aim is to build a great business. Initially this would mean that you are firmly “within” the business. When you make that all important decision to grow, the key is to employ the right calibre of people at the right time with the passion for the business. Then gradually over time you need to extract yourself so you sit “on” the business and not “in” the business. This is one of the most challenging tasks to accept, let alone get right.
Having achieved the sale of my business four years ago, I remember only too well the stages that you go through; it is an invaluable experience I will never forget. First, you need to have a clear vision of your destination by knowing the size you want the business to be by each timescale. With this amount of detail, you can then start to plan and build your people infrastructure. This is critical and you really must have that vision clearly in your head and keep referring back to it because it will help you produce a detailed plan.
Always ensure that you never compromise on your standards. No doubt, we have all done this before, only to have regretted it later on. Stay firm in your belief and vision providing it is realistic. The next layer of your infrastructure is critical and must be aligned as close to you as possible. Always consider offering your senior management team share options based on a certain criteria. When you know you have the right calibre of people on board, it is vital to tie them into the company so all senior management are aligned. Without complete alignment, it is likely to lead to underperformance or they might be poached away by your competitors. Treat people how you want to be treated or when the good times return, they will leave if you abused them.
As you grow your people, it is important that the communication from the board filters down to every level. Ensure that you communicate consistently and effectively with all staff knowing the main company KPIs and individual KPIs. You should have company communications at least every quarter, but I prefer monthly so all staff hear from the directors on how the company is doing. For all staff directly at the “Coal face”, they should be having daily interaction like team meetings with their line manager to motivate and ensure KPIs are being achieved.
The way directors communicate with staff on a daily basis is crucial. There should be mutual respect. Around staff, try to be friendly and positive. If you’re in a bad mood, try not to show it as that can have a detrimental impact on your staff. Remember, you are their leader so you need to be an inspiration at all times.
The changes that you have to accept in order to grow are not easy, but you need to slightly shift your focus. Once out of the business focus on daily KPIs, run your business based on known management information and do not get dragged into emotional hearsay. Lead, inspire, and focus on your business drivers and overall vision. Form strategic alliances with future purchasers and continually develop relationships, ensuring they know what your core values are including quality, quantity, integrity, and trust. Over time, they will feel they have to buy your company because they cannot afford to lose your business to the competition.
When someone walks into your company, what do they think? Remember, first impressions do matter, so when someone visits they should feel excited about your business. You need to embed these qualities within your culture. It does not happen overnight, so you must continually work at it.
Staff at all levels need to be incentivised and motivated to ensure you achieve at least the bare minimum of your plan. Reward those that overachieve with further incentives so it becomes expected. When people start seeing how successful they can be, they do not like to fail. You need to breed a success culture that becomes infectious in your organisation.
Create monthly employee awards for service and target excellence so you are recognising quality and quantity. The aim is to inspire others to “want” that award next month so within your team a competitive edge is forming. Recognise people at all levels. Do not restrict it to one award or one area. Create a buzz throughout your organisation.
Involve your customers within this process so you really are caring about delivering what they want whilst instilling a desire within your team to overdeliver. If you get the management of your people right then you really can achieve anything you desire.
Often you will find that if you have slipped into a demotivated culture, you may need someone to kick start the process. This is part of my continuous performance improvement review. Generally the mood is deflated in many businesses. Snap out of it! You cannot do anything about the economy, but you can do something about your business. There are plenty of opportunities, you just need to start taking advantage of them.
Having built and sold my SME, I now work with SMEs. I understand their model by embedding myself in the senior management team so I feel the heartbeat of the business. All areas are covered, but the four questions that we work on solving are: How do I grow my business?, How do I achieve client excellence?, How do I make more profit?, and Does my business model deliver?
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