Monday, March 26, 2012

The Madness of it All

"A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership in the world." --- John Updike

I recently spoke with a business leader who was offered a great sum of money to sell his business. This leader is facing quite a few challenges in regard to employee relations and to him the offer is looking quite appealing. He told me, "I must be mad to continue doing what I'm doing with the problems I'm facing, but I just find it hard to let it all go."

We're all like that in some respects. We build our business, nurture it, give it all the right nutrients for growth, so that when an opportunity arises, we find it difficult to part with it. Some leaders, like the one I spoke with, would not even entertain letting the business go if they didn't have to deal with petty employee issues all the time. That business leader also shared with me that he feels like the business family he thought he had is turning their backs on him.

Like the elimination process of the current March Madness basketball tournament, leading employees requires a process of elimination that include three key areas:

1.) Eliminate indecision- Empower your team members to make decisions on their own. This does two things: it frees up your time to oversee the picture and it instills trust and confidence into your employees. Indecision stagnates your business and turns your employees into robots. You didn't hire robots. You hired walking, talking, thinking, creative humans. Empower them to be human. Their trust in you will increase and their sense of ownership will give them confidence to give only their very best.

2.) Eliminate the need to litigate- Use the tools found here and at our site to protect you and your business. Remember to put in place good communication tools such as job descriptions, employee handbook, and mission statement to communicate what is expected of each employee and how their job contributes to the success of all.

3.) Eliminate rights- This is a controversial one, but is needed in today's business environment. Although we want to empower team members and give them the freedom to make mistakes, that doesn't mean that they own the farm. Occasionally, some business leaders still need to let employees know who the boss is and that "if the employee doesn't work, he doesn't eat." Some employees have a sense of entitlement that the employer owes them and that they should get paid for just showing up. Obviously, this person should have been weeded out during the interviewing stage, but if some have slipped by, it is time to let them know that their right is to give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. If a sit-down is needed, have someone else present with you and inform the employee that they might not fit into your organization unless some things change. For most of these employees, a simple chat will either correct the situation or send them packing.

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