6 Ways to Change a Business Culture: Pt. 2 — Get Out of the Way

One morning I woke up and realized that I was not happy with my job. I had great staff and great clients, but I was miserable. I have always had a running promise with myself that if I was not happy with my job, I would quit and get a new one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that because I was the CEO and owner of the company, and I had staff that were counting on me.

I contacted one of my business consultants and told him about the situation. He counseled me to hire an HR consultant. This didn’t make any sense to me because I didn’t have any problems with my staff. I decided to take his advice and hire one, though. This transition eventually led me to the CEO mentoring program, Vistage, which we talk about in other articles.

Foundation

One of the first suggestions the HR consultant recommended was to make an Org Chart. An Org Chart is an organizational tool that allows people to see the flow of a company, roles of staff, and many other aspects of a company’s work-flow. By displaying this in a visual format, one can see what is effective and where there are holes in an organization. Once again, I was confused by this suggestion — at the time there were only 15 of us in the company, and I felt that I knew exactly what was going on and who was in charge of what at all times. 

I did it anyways, and it became one of the best decisions for my company. Not only did it allow me to understand much more clearly what was happening in the company and what everyone’s assignments were, it also allowed me to communicate better with my staff, plan for future roles, and identify deficiencies. In addition, it allowed my staff and me to grow and become even more effective than before.

The second suggestion from the HR consultant was to create a RACI document, RACI being an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. This document’s purpose is to improve communication within a collaborative team. Every person within the team should be assigned a role from the acronym RACI. “Understanding Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RACI Matrix)” by Cara Doglione provides a simple example for understanding how this works:

“John is developing software feature X that will be integrated with software feature Y – developed by Jess. Mike is the project manager and Irina is in marketing. For feature X, John is responsible, Mike is accountable, and Jess needs to be consulted with as her feature will integrate with John’s. Lastly, Irina simply needs to be informed when the task is complete.”

Both the Org Chart and the RACI document began to organize the company in a way so that I was able to more fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of my staff as a whole and of each individual.

These two documents stimulated new goals for me and created a path to focus my energy. This focus rejuvenated me, therefore bringing new energy to the company.

Shadow Leadership

Once I had the organization in place, the HR consultant gave me one my most difficult challenges: to shut my mouth when my employees are trying to accomplish tasks.

I fought this principle at first because my thinking was such: I had built this company from the bottom up, I knew more about the application than anyone else, and I knew exactly what to do because I had done it before. Why would I shut my mouth and not tell my staff exactly what they needed to do?

She told me very clearly that I was stifling my staff. She explained that I was taking away their ability to contribute effectively by not allowing them to go through their own processes to reach conclusions, no matter how quickly or slowly that process may be, nor how many steps it may take them. I had to become the type of boss that could give his staff a task and trust that they would accomplish the desired results, even though they may use a different process than I would have chosen to achieve those results. Once I did this, the results were marvelous.

Putting This Principle Into Practice

A few months after I learned the above principles, one of our clients wanted to install a way-finding application. I scheduled a meeting with two of my staff to explain the project, then shut my mouth and let them figure out the best way to accomplish the task. The direction of the conversation was not going where I desired within the first ten minutes. Still, I persisted in my resolution to shut my mouth, giving only a couple of guiding comments as was necessary, and, 45 minutes later, they reached the conclusion that I thought was best. It was amazing and eye-opening to see this kind of result and growth, both in myself and my staff.

I returned to my HR consultant and shared the experience with her. She was happy to hear my results, then finished explaining this principle to me: people must be allowed to work at their own pace. Some individuals can complete a task in 15 steps, while others may take three to complete the same task. Everyone thinks differently and has their own way of completing projects, and, as a boss, I have the responsibility of not getting in the way of that process so productivity can flourish.

This is a process.

Putting this into practice, like many principles discussed in our blog, is a learning process. It takes mental effort and active choice to implement this attitude and action, but the results are well worth the effort.


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6 Ways to Change a Business Culture: Pt. 1, Set a Vision

One night, as I was driving through the mountains, it started snowing.  Driving conditions went downhill quick as the storm progressed to a full-out skier’s dream blizzard.  Powder stacked up fast – both on the road and on my windshield.  Thankfully, I was able to pull behind a snowplow.  By keeping my sights on that vehicle’s lights, I was able to (very slowly!) reach my destination.

Running a business can feel like driving through a blizzard sometimes.  If you can’t see where you’re going, it’s hard to set your tires on the right course.  At least, unless there’s a snowplow to follow.  Thankfully, there are 3 easy steps to make sure your business is on track.

3 Easy Steps to Set a Vision and Align your Company

Paint Your Picture

Learning how to use the Painted Picture concept is absolutely vital to setting up your vision.  In fact, it has to happen first.  I highly recommend you read our earlier post regarding a painted picture before finishing this article.

In any case, you have to be able to describe where you are and where you’re going if you want people to join you on the journey.  Even if it’s just you, you need to know where you’re going so that you don’t get lost on the way there.

Develop Core Values

Once you know where you’re going, you need to know how you’re getting there.  You need to know your core values.  For ours, we use the acronym TIPS: Transparency, Integrity, Professionalism, and Straightforwardness.

While you don’t have to use an acronym, you will want to create your own set of core values. We have chosen to use an acronym to assist with memorization.  Core values help align current and future staff to the same path so we can move forward together.  Nobody wonders where we’re going, how we’ll get there, or what creates success.  We already know, because we can fall back on those core values to keep us aligned and unified.

Answer: Why, How, and What?

Once you know where you’re going and how to get there, you’ve only got to ask yourself three more questions.

• “Why?”
• “How?”
• “What?”

We follow Simon Senik’s adage to answer these three questions.

  • Why: We are passionate about meeting the needs of our clients by providing state of the art, easy to use, and modern IWMS solutions.
  • How: We study technologies, review and assess for applicability, and work to embrace and incorporate the appropriate solutions.
  • What: We provide the results for medium to large companies to help manage their assets through Fast, Efficient, Professional IWMS Tools and Consulting.

By answering these question we align our team. Gone are the days where our team struggles with direction or clarity.  Instead, we’re able to quickly discuss Why, How, and What we are doing and gain consensus.  Because of these questions we know why we need to get this done, how we are going to do this, and finally, what we are doing.


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