Walk into Jon’s company and the first thing you notice is that the employees all seem to shuffle and slouch as they sit at their desks and move throughout the office. No matter who answers the phone, the tone is dull and lifeless.
Morale can’t be high, there’s no apparent passion for what people are doing and Jon says that he has a lot of ideas for his business but just can’t get them off the ground.
If any part of your company (or a client of yours) is like this it’s a sure road to stagnation. The solution starts with the owner, or, I should say that it starts with you. You don’t have to be a rah-rah cheerleader type, in fact that often backfires. What it takes is presenting new ideas with passion, enthusiasm and belief. When you can show your team the benefits of a new initiative they’ll start to get on board. When you show them, “what’s in it for them” they’ll fight to see who can jump onboard the fastest. If they don’t, maybe a replacement is in order.
The Dictator Syndrome
Ben was the opposite of Jon. When he got an idea in his head everybody knew about it and that it had better become their priority also. His ideas were the only ones that mattered. Anything from management, employees or outsiders was looked upon with disdain. He founded the company, got it to where it was and knew best whether it was for:
- Accounting, of which he knew almost nothing
- Marketing, of which he had limited knowledge
- Motivation, which he felt meant nothing more than reminding his employees that they had a job and should be thankful for that
When you intimidate, don’t listen and make passive aggressive comments to your employees how do you expect them to be motivated to help you grow? Keep in mind that employees treated this way are on the top of the list in the studies stating that as the economy improves they will look for a new job.
Coasting (and maybe don’t know it)
Ralph had a great business. There was strong demand and high profits. Because of those profits he was not open to any ideas from his employees. Heck, when you’re making the income he was making why work harder, try new things or take a little risk that could lead to growth? Thus, there was very little investment in people, technology or equipment.
The result was that when he sold the business he received half of what he wanted. The buyer was described, by one of the management team members, as a “breath of fresh air.” He asked for input and ideas, listened and took action.
The other action (or non-action) is when someone falls into the Field of Dreams syndrome. In other words, “I built it so they will come (or the phone will ring).” You could say this is a form of coasting, downhill.
In 2011 PriceWaterhouseCoopers predicted that two-thirds of companies with sales of $5-50 million will change hands in this decade. Those with a growth culture, motivated employees and solid management will sell faster, for more money and with less hassle. The other sellers will wonder why they’re being passed over or offered less than they hoped for.