One Big, not so Happy Family
I just read an interesting article about a family business. The third-generation son of the CEO recounted in the story how he “fired” his father. The end result was that their relationship was stronger than ever and the company continues to thrive today.
Below you will find a brief list of some of the problems that arose for them; the ones that I found to be the most interesting parts of this story. Having worked for several family businesses, I think it is very common to see issues like the ones I’ve highlighted below.
These can sometimes be small problems, but are often major stumbling blocks, not only to the health of the organization, but things that hinder the happiness and success of non-family contributors. There are often very dedicated, hard-working people that exist within family enterprises who are frustrated that their voices are not heard and their performance goes unrecognized, with the end result being that they leave for greener pastures.
So please take a look at the issues below and rate yourself (or your company). Do these issues exist for you? If you are a leader, what can you do to change them? If you have experienced these things as an employee, what can you do to get some positive change to happen?
TRANSPARENCY—I know that there are some companies that don’t even share monthly sales numbers with their employees and, quite frankly, I just do NOT get that. What is the big secret? If people know how you are doing, and more importantly where you WANT to be, perhaps they can come up with some ways to help you get there.
And as for costs, why not share the facts? You might have an employee with a stellar idea for how to save some money or do something differently to help you positively impact the bottom line.
COMMUNICATION—Oddly, it seems to be pretty rare that the rank-and-file team members are asked their opinion. And again, I just don’t get this. If you are trying to solve a problem, improve a process or workflow, or launch a new product or service, who better to ask then those who are in the trenches every day? This is especially true of the folks who have the ear of your customer base.
Do you have regular meetings? What happens when you change a policy? How do you communicate with your employees? Regardless of the size of the company, people should be encouraged to share their ideas and have someone they can go to in order to express themselves.
ENCOURAGEMENT—Speaking of encouragement, who within your organization is responsible for the positive words, the coaching, the support? If you look around a shop and people have their heads down, no one is smiling and it is dead quiet, how happy do you suppose these team members are? Conversely, if you see a lot of engagement and conversation, and managers talking with their teams, it is fair to assume that you might be in an environment where great performance is rewarded, mistakes are corrected with care and concern, and, generally speaking, people feel nurtured and encouraged to do their best. Where would YOU rather work?
MANAGEMENT STYLE—This one is pretty simple and builds on the last point. If you are a leader that never opens his/her door—literally and figuratively—you could be considered an autocratic leader, and you are missing opportunities to learn, grow and improve. If you are open, encouraging and nurturing, you enjoy happy, productive employees who know that their hard work pays off and everybody wins.
DIFFERENCES IN BIG PICTURE VISION—If the leadership of a company does not agree on the direction to take, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. It is vital that you get together, discuss and collaborate with your entire team, and as a group decide the best direction to go in—especially when significant investments are to be made.
If you are going to buy a new press, perhaps asking the salespeople to forecast how much they can sell on it will help you to project how profitable the new machine can be. If you are going to change CRM systems, consulting with the people that will be using it every day seems the only sane way to proceed.
So, how did you do? If you got all As, congratulations! If not, perhaps it’s time to call a meeting and see what can be done to open up a little more. I’d be willing to bet you’ll be happy you did!
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.