Most business owners are wishing something could change about their business. Can’t running this business be easier? I work so much, so many hours, I sacrifice time with my family. I have sacrificed my health. And yet I feel like my business is in the same place it was 5 years ago.
This is sometimes followed by excuses and wishes. If only I had better people. If the business was bigger. The competition will cut corners and work unethically, I will not do that. The government continues to create speed bumps and raise my taxes. There is just not enough time in the day.
Before you say that it is impossible to overcome these challenges remember there are thousands of companies that were once small businesses facing the same challenges you are today. McDonald’s was once a one location hamburger stand. Amazon was once a money losing on-line book seller. Turner Construction started with small concrete jobs in 1902 and is now a Fortune 500 company.
How does one make change happen in their own business? The answer is through other people. You cannot do it alone. There is only so much time in the day and to be honest you just aren’t good at everything. Pause on that thought for a moment: there are people out there with talents you could only imagine.
Real substantial change takes other people. But those other people need a leader. And we aren’t talking about an old school Army General kind of leader.
Those of us that are Baby Boomers grew up believing that the only way things got done was through penalty, persuasion and because the boss said so. Did you ever hear “You will do as I say because I am the boss, or I am the parent.”? And some of the younger generation believe in a laissez faire approach to managing people, believing everyone should have complete freedom. The truth is that neither of those styles will have a lasting impact.
Change in your business will come from being a better leader of people.
What does it take to lead a group of people to change? How do you help ordinary people do extraordinary things?
You need to start with establishing a clear Vision of the business’ future. Make it clear where you want to go and make sure everyone on the team knows it. Also make sure that everyone that you are looking to hire, knows it.
Speak to employees about the vision. Share with them how you envision their role in the process and ask how they want be part of the future. Everyone needs to have a sense of purpose. Give your people a sense of how their work is positively impacting the future.
Also, you need to establish the “values” of your organization. These are those characteristics that if followed will build the business that you want. What has made you the person you are today? Hard work, integrity, abilities to connect with people are just a few off the top of my head.
These are not just slogans that you post on the wall in your lobby or on your website. What are those things that you live and breathe each day? You want everyone who is on your team to live and die by these same principles. You need to evaluate every person already in your business and every person you are looking to hire based upon these values.
How do you motivate people? Believe or not, money is not the greatest motivator. And harshness and threats are not the best approach. People desire a purpose and to be recognized for their contributions.
A leader of people needs to become a student of people. One must learn about individuals that you work with. This means you listen more and ask questions. Do not assume you know the answers.
Do you really understand the differences between the people of different generations? Most of you will say yes that the younger generations do not have my work ethic, while younger people will say the older generation had it easier back in the old days. In fact, both are incorrect.
There are plenty of books and programs out there that can provide you with this deeper understanding. Learn what Emotional Intelligence is and how it works. This is not about coddling people it is about motivating them. You want to make all people active participants in the process of change.
Great businesses are built by people. The change that you desire is possible. You can become a leader of change when you become a better leader of people.