Help is a word that’s foreign to many entrepreneurs, so when a caller says they need help, I listen intently.
I received such a call in November 2019 from an entrepreneur who had bought into a company and realized that the management team was struggling.
“Dave, I need an outside perspective on how to move forward with this team. Sales are down and the team is fighting amongst itself,” the entrepreneur said. “Can you help us?”
Within a couple of months, we were helping the company come up with a plan to address their challenges. Sales were down; there was confusion about who was in charge and what members of the management team were responsible for; there was considerable stress; and morale was low within the organization.
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What this company’s management team achieved in working with us wasn’t revolutionary. We helped the team get clarity on their jobs, understand why their role was important and eliminate overlap. We supported the young leader as she grew into her role as general manager and helped build a level of accountability within the organization.
However, the key to their success was their dedication to continuous improvement. The management team started working in 90-day cycles, choosing two or three items to fix each quarter that would make a difference for their team. In some cases, the items seemed small – like changing suppliers or building a brochure. In others, there was considerable work to be done on implementing marketing plans to reach new prospects and build relationships.
Each member of the company’s management team was committed to improving the organization and reducing stress.
A year and a half later, the company is better. There’s support for key team members who were overworked. The company has better systems, improving accountability and reducing stress. There are onboarding programs and people within the company have a clearer idea of what they should be doing and when to do it. Sales are much higher and they have some new customers. Go into the business and you’ll hear much more laughter and feel less tension.
It’s not perfect. Like every business, there’s room to grow and the changes beget the need for more improvements.
However, the team is committed to continuous improvement and incremental change. They recognize the need for more 90-day plans and the clarity those plans bring. They believe in themselves and see how far they’ve come in such a short time working as a team.
Unfortunately, most organizations leave improvement to chance. They don’t do the work necessary to come up with plans to engage their teams. And the leaders often bear the burden of trying to develop strategies in their lonely offices.
Developing a system for incremental change might not seem revolutionary, but the results will lead to an outstanding future for your business.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Need help but can’t speak the word? Email your help question to firstname.lastname@example.org. For interview requests, click here.
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