When last we left Charlotte, she had just shared her lament, “I wish they would grow up. I wish they would care as much as I do. Ok, maybe not as much as I do, but I wish they would care, or act like it. I don’t want to play referee. I want to get back to building something. And I want their help.”
The thing is, I had already spoken to “them” (key members of her team) and my assessment was that they really were passionate and really did want to drive the business to succeed.
The real problem was that, to a person, each had a slightly different idea of where the goal posts were planted. And those differences were big enough to cause confusion and friction that showed up at various times as gamesmanship, lack of commitment, empire building – you name it.
Sometimes People Don’t Know What They’re Working Toward
The natural mental and operating state for an owner or senior manager and the natural mental and operating state for an employee is constantly at odds with one another. Most employees are working toward particular goals that seem structured and real, at least to them. That is, employees buy into goals as being “real” and fixed in time and space.
Conversely, the higher you go in management, eventually to ownership, things look far less stable and predictable. There are so many moving parts, it can get challenging to set goals at all. So to do so, often we “set a goal for now, and we’ll change it if we have to.” That’s just a fact of management. A wise woman I greatly respect once told me, “In business, go with what you know, and when you know more, change it.” What the manager sees as sound planning and decision-making strategy, the employee sees as capricious, and generations of in-group/out-group psychology march forward unchanged.
This Calls For A Little Theater
I’m the first to admit that business planning, and strategic planning, can often amount to little more than business theater.
But it is exceptionally important theater. It is powerful, necessary, and done well, can have great impact.
You as owner or senior manager need to for a time suspend disbelief and plan as best you can. You already know you’ll make small pivots as you need. The other and perhaps most important part is that the people who look to you are looking for certainty that only an irresistible offering and a solid plan can provide.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Do This
Thing #1 Not To Do: Don’t skip this. “This” is the process of crafting your irresistible offering and rallying everyone around. Just don’t. More on this in a minute.
Thing #2 Not To Do: There will come a time in this process when you will be asked to contemplate “why” you are in your business. Your “why” does not have to be revolutionary, earth-shattering, or selfless. But it also cannot be “to make money.” “To make money” is an assumed function of literally every business entity, including non-profits. Your “why” should focus on the value you provide to your audience. This is a hard rule with me.
Build an Irresistible Offering and Rally Everyone Around
Having said my two “Don’t Do’s,” there is absolutely no secret sauce here. So I’ll tell you the exact things I do with my clients. Ready? Here’s what we do.
Values – personal and business. Vision for the business. Mission. And a variation of the Business Model Canvass – the exact variation depends on if you’re going for VC or M&A activity or not.
These are things taught in every MBA course. These are absolutely things you can do yourself.
These are things nobody does themselves.
Secret sauce #1 is showing up and making you do them. Perhaps “helping” you do them sounds more friendly.
Secret sauce #2 is helping draw out and craft why this effort, this entity, this dream is an irresistible dream for your employees to be a part of and your customers to partake in. And to help craft the way to communicate that, again and again and again.