Building Community Through Better Relationships

You’re Gonna Do It Anyway!

A very large child barked at an adult, “I ain’t gonna do it and you can’t make me!” The child promptly folded his arms and pouted, clearly indicating that the discussion was over. Except that the adult was not finished. To truly settle the matter, the adult firmly responded, “You’re gonna do it! Because if you don’t you’ll be sorry. You will lose your company!” Your company???

The very large child was a 40-something founder/ entrepreneur and the adult was his business coach. And, the entrepreneur had a choice to either change or risk losing his company. The company’s shares were not in jeopardy, merely its control. The entrepreneur had to change how he controlled his company.

Many companies launch, grow, and experience success only to have the business smothered to death by an overbearing founder. This tantrum stems from the owner’s inability to allow the managers that he hired, do the job he pays them to do. A common problem with successful businesses is that they grow beyond the reach of their founders. More people begin to contribute. Now what was once a reflection of the grown child, who stood at the center of this universe, had become a community in search of a culture. Maturing into a functioning community requires more input from a growing number of stakeholders!

Mercifully, only three steps are required to make this transition to entrepreneurial adulthood a success. But like any child, change and maturation are difficult. But, the reward is a well-adjusted adult, or in this case, a functional and thriving enterprise.

1. Cooperation
Cooperation begins with understanding that the organization is no longer dictated by one individual. Additional size begets additional employees, who begets additional managers. Managers are hired to bring certain expertise like, sales, accounting, or operations. The owner must let them contribute. When the additional voices work together, they form a cooperative environment with a common goal. For success, the leader must empower them to contribute individually while working together. The desired outcome is to develop their individual areas of responsibility and in turn the business.

2. Process
Processes are established to replace the explicit voice of the founder. The coordination that results from a cooperative effort has to be systematized. The system replicates the operational consistency required by the founder when she personally dictated the business’ course. The process now reflects the communal knowledge of the evolving leadership team. For example, to assist the human resource manager, the policy manual systematizes processes surrounding discipline, extenuating personal problems, and compensation. These and other business necessities are difficult in the minutiae, but critical in the aggregate. Finance and reporting processes, like petty cash requisitions or budget exceptions, also fall under this category. The process does the heavy lifting when personal relationships inside the business makes certain decisions awkward or hard.

3. Delegate
Delegation is the largest obstacle because the founder must trust someone else to execute his wishes. Like any parent, just because the founder loves the child the most does not mean that the founder is always best equipped to help the child. The world’s greatest soccer mom, may not be the best calculus tutor. The owner will always love the business most. The owner will also have to trust a loyal and competent team to perform certain functions for the business to reach full maturity. For delegation to work best, the owner must articulate a clear vision and expected outcomes. If sales need to increase 15% for the quarter, then that goal must be explicitly communicated. Next, the consequences for not achieving the goal must be explicitly communicated. Once the resources are in place to accomplish the goal the owner must focus on other higher-valued priorities and trust that he delegated wisely. If it turns out that consequences are required, then consequences must be delivered!

As with children, heartbreak will occur. Also, unfathomable pride emerges when offspring exceeds expectations. But, to experience the enormous personal joy and resultant profits, the founder must agree to foster a culture of cooperation. The employees must come together like performers in a grade school play. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it simply has to make everyone proud. Processes must be in place because once the business is out the crib, the owner has to trust that the kitchen is sufficiently childproof so that the apple of her eye does not burn his hand on the stove. And finally, delegate. The team was built to do a job. Give them the tools, the direction and the consequences so they can do it. Even if the owner can do a job better, does she really have to prove that she makes the best pot of coffee in the company? The organizational alternative is to stomp your feet and cry out loud while the business suffers from malnutrition and stunted growth. Growing up is hard, but it beats the alternative.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter and Beyond


November 11, 2013 - Posted by | Better Business, Better Communication, Better Person | , , , , , , , ,

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