Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Our Staff Makes Us Successful But...

At a recent business owners forum, there was a breakout session regarding staff development. It's an important aspect, especially when looking to sell the business. The next owner wants to know if the staff understands the business, is ready to grow the business, is ready to take on more leadership of the business, can run the business. If your staff can't, you're not ready to sell.

However, the probability is high that you've hired, promoted and developed the staff that makes you look good. They've adapted to your leadership style. They are empowered and engaged only as much as you want them to be. If you're a command and control kind of leader, you've got a staff probably that waits for orders, for you to make the decision. If you're a coaching kind of leader, you've got a staff who tries to anticipate what questions you're going to ask, take risks (sometimes foolishly) and may have a hard time following orders in risky situations. The next owner or CEO may have a different style and then the staff will be floundering, and it won't be good for the business. Hmmm, ever wonder why so many new owners, leaders bring in staff members they know from previous organizations? They're used to working together and the organization gains some efficiency in moving forward with new ideas (either generated by the new leader or the 'new' staff).

Take a look at your organization from the outside. Objectively try to assess the best environment in which your staff to operates. Objectively assess how adaptable they are. For example, if you want them to operate differently such as being more empowered, change the way you operate and see if they can adapt well to new behaviors, decision-making styles and so on. Your staff won't change until you do. I once counseled a CEO who wanted a more empowered staff: stop going to some meetings; if they insist you attend, don't say anything verbally or nonverbally (rolling eyes, raised eyebrows, deep sighs, drumming fingers); if you do say something, ask open-ended, non-leading questions and enforce 'the silence' until your staff answers. If your staff can't adapt to changes, you may need to change yourself some more or change your staff members--sort of cleaning up your mess so the next person doesn't have to--till they can adapt to someone new leading the organization.

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