When it comes to restructuring your business, it is important to include your team in the process. They are the ones who are out there doing the work. They have the connections with the customers and most of the time they know their job better than you.
What happens when you don’t? You come in guns blazing and saying we’re restructuring, we’re going to this and that, you now have this responsibility as well as what you were doing. Well, you end up with unhappy and disgruntled employees who are shaking their heads saying “This isn’t going to work.” OK, you could say they don’t like change, and that could be a valid point, but these are the people who are there doing the work and they have better ideas. Did you ask them?
I’ve been watching the process that a business is going through. They haven’t engaged me to help them with this process, but I’m getting constant reports from the friend who works there. It is interesting to see how this company is developing with the help of a “Business consultant/strategist”.
When the business started to struggle, the owner didn’t go to his top people and ask for their ideas and advice. They had been discussing it amongst themselves and they were concerned, but the boss would not talk or listen to them about it. He kept the whole thing close to his chest. Instead, he went to a business strategist and decided that he would need to retrench some employees. This he did badly and destabilised the community of the workplace.
Next was bringing the business strategist to meet with the “top” employees to create new vision statements and values. The result was a page of “stuff” which felt empty when I looked at it. I asked the person who showed it to me, “does this motivate you to go to work each day.” The answer was simply “No”. The approach was so very 20th century, you know, the standard vision, mission and value statements. “We will be….. “
They don’t go to the core of the driving force that gives people a sense of purpose in their work. If people don’t feel a sense of purpose in their work, they quickly lose interest and are not fully engaged in what they do. When there is purpose they are motivated and will give their all to create a business that is successful.
As the process went on, new structure and roles were handed to the key people. Previously the owner had resisted creating this type of structure as he wanted everyone to feel equal in the business and have a sense of responsibility and ownership of their work. Now, this could have worked, and in many businesses and organisations, it does work, really successfully, it is in fact my favourite business model. However, in this situation he was missing a key component; Transparency. For it to work, he needed to talk to his team and share with them every step of the way what was going on and allow them to give their input. Each person needed to feel that they could make the decisions that matter in their role; however they were often overridden by the business owner.
Well, these key people were suddenly given additional management responsibilities in the company, in an attempt to follow other “workable” business models. You could say that could be a good thing, but there was no consultation with them in the first place as to how they could integrate this additional load into what they do now. The truth is that these people have very “full on” jobs to start with. They have highly specialised roles and cannot simply hand over some of their work to someone else to do. There simply isn’t anyone to hand it to.
At a recent meeting with the business strategist, they were told that they were making excuses and that if the job is important enough they will find the time to do it. Easy for someone to say, who isn’t doing their job and has no understanding of the work they do. Suddenly they need to find the time, to first of all, write their new job descriptions and then add the extra work into their schedules.
What is happening now, is that this loyal and dedicated group of men who have worked diligently for the business for many years are all feeling like it might be time to pack it in. Without them, because of their high expertise in a very niche field, the business could come crashing down.
This whole situation could have been handled so much better, if the business owner had of just sat down with his team, openly and honestly and asked for their input.
The whole point of this story is simple. You employ your people as they are the best people for the job. They know what they are doing, they know your business. They have ideas and inspirations that may take your business to new levels. Take time to listen to them and open up to them what is happening in the business. The more transparent you can be with your business, they more they will be committed to helping you make your business the best it can be.