No matter how “busy” you are in your company, I’ll bet a lot of the time you spend is solving problems. Challenges really are a part of any business, and while you can systemize many things, you can’t always create a process for everything. When a problem arises in a grey area, how will you handle it?
The answer is deceptively complex, but it really does come back to the overall structure you choose for your business. Remember, too, “structure” is not always organization charts and rules.
It’s also rewards, values, and even unconscious assumptions that can influence behavior. Let me give you an example…
You might adopt a formal policy for your teams that states that customer satisfaction is the primary goal. On the other hand, you only pay a commission to your sales team for closed sales.
Will it be any surprise that your sales team figures this messaging out BUT directs their activities and energies towards the reward and not necessarily the stated objective?
In this case, the real result desired is implied in the result that you reward, not the result you’re claiming. Obviously, then, it’s important to be able to fully understand how your company really works…
Of course, this not only defines your management hierarchy, but also how your business might be able to overcome obstacles faster.
For example, in the last twenty years, we’ve seen how manufacturing has shifted from a very bureaucratic, top-heavy management and decision-making structure to a much more “team-managed” style in many cases.
While some people have heralded this as the “democratization of the workplace,” the reality is, that’s just an “unintended result.” By letting manufacturing teams manage themselves, companies can remain competitive in fast-moving industries requiring quick order fulfillment.
Now, obviously this example may not make sense for your business, but here’s the point: the structure you build into your business has to be built around what makes sense for YOU, not just the way your industry has always worked.
Beyond that actual management and operating system, there is another key component that is not necessarily designed, but created, and that’s the culture. These standards, rules, and accepted practices all act on and shape the culture of any company. What, exactly, do I mean by culture? Essentially, the behavior and actions that a company takes in its day-to-day-operations.
Some of this “culture” is quite explicitly stated – we see it in Vision statements and policies. A great deal of it, though, becomes part of the story and myth of the business. This unseen culture can run alongside of the stated goals and will either support it or undermine it.
A classic example of this parallel culture in demonstrated when companies who proclaim the importance of their employees and constantly share their human resource beliefs turn right around and lay off scores of workers with no notice.
Their real truth is revealed in their actions, not their words, and this makes a very vivid lesson for their remaining employees.
Companies such as this miss a very real opportunity – they could recognize this “unstated” culture they have created and bring it into alignment with their stated values and objectives … and not fear “losing face” with their people and their customers. A truly high-performance company would use this scenario to find a better way to integrate their vision and their actions.
In the end, your beliefs about what is true for your business shape the flow of energy and activity within it. The challenge you face is to understand and recognize these unconscious assumptions you are making and ensure they aren’t laying a foundation for failure.
Remember, because these are unstated, they are often self-fulfilling.
If you think people cannot manage themselves, you likely won’t take the time to build a system that allows your people to effectively manage themselves.
If you think your Ideal Customer will only purchase your products or services in one way, you’ll be unlikely to develop and test any other methods.
That might seem obvious, but until I said it, you either believed it and didn’t question it or you didn’t believe it and didn’t question it.
Either way, you’re missing a key part of the whole entrepreneurial process – you must learn to question EVERYTHING!
That’s really the point I’m trying to make – to coax you to open your eyes to things you personally – and subconsciously – believe to be true and then, to address them in your business structure or culture that you’re building.
Make this a great week!