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Shift the incentive to move your business forward: Cooper

 4 November 2020     Donald Cooper 

The people who start and grow businesses from the ground up are generally fearless initiative takers.  Nothing stops them. They do it all, and if they’re good at it, they succeed, at least for a while. Eventually, the business grows to the point that it has employees and then managers and supervisors. But, typically, the boss keeps taking the initiative, keeps giving people a job and then taking it away from them a little bit at a time. And the very initiative-taking that built the business, now limits its growth and drives good people away.

Here’s the thing. Initiative doesn’t exist in the air. It exists in people. And when we take it, we take it away from people. Good people leave in frustration and the rest stay and take I don’t give a damn pills.  I see this happening all the time. I’m in the client’s office discussing challenges and opportunities, and every 20 minutes or so, one of their managers or supervisors sticks their head in the boss’s office door and asks, “Boss, how’s it going?” That’s when you know the whole business is screwed up.

“How’s it going?” is what bosses should be asking their team members, because they, the team, have the “its” – they have the projects, the initiatives and the empowerment that will move the business forward. And the boss should be the one who wants to know how the “its” are going.

One of the biggest challenges as any business grows is for the founder to make that important transition from being a ‘player’ to being a ‘coach’. Players take initiative while coaches give initiative. That’s how it works. To rate your ‘coaching ability’ in just two minutes, click here to download my Biz Tool #A-9.

Give your people specific tasks and projects. Make sure they have the training and resources to succeed and understand why the task or project is important. Ask them the magic question, “By when can we agree that this will be completed?” to create urgency and accountability. Document their completion commitment and follow up at appropriate intervals to see how it’s going. The world is run by those who follow up. Let them know you’re there to help and guide them, but at all times they will they keep ‘ownership’ of the task or project.

In addition to tasks or projects with specific deadlines, give them ongoing responsibilities and then let them do their job. Every once in a while ask “How’s it going?” Look for opportunities to praise and thank. All the while look for opportunities to coach, without taking the initiative away. That’s the trick.  And remember, your way isn’t the only way.

You’ll be amazed at how your good people will become ‘great’, and how non-performers will become obvious. So, what will you do to make the important transition from ‘player’ to ‘coach’?  Remember, if there is a heaven, there’s an express lane for coaches. They build their business by growing people. That’s a wonderful thing.

If you’d like help making the important transition from ‘player’ to ‘coach’ in your business, perhaps we should chat. I’m easily reached at [email protected]

Here’s a little something else to think about
Take cyber security seriously in your business: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has reported a 300% increase in cybercrimes since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. Some 43% of these cyber attacks are on small businesses. Two of the most common types of attacks are: a) hacking your customer database to highjack personal info that can be used for criminal purposes and, b) locking you out of your systems until you pay a ransom.

Check with your technology expert to make sure you’re doing what’s needed to stay safe.

Who are your 5%? A good friend of mine, a retired senior pilot who represented 525 Air Canada pilots, recently told me that the same 5% of the pilots caused 95% of the problems and took 95% of his time year after year. So, who are the 5% in your business or department? What are you doing to get them on side or get them to move on?

Remember – business is like riding a bicycle. If you’re coasting, you’re going down hill. You can’t coast up hill. For that, you have to do the work.

That’s it for this week. Stay safe. Live brilliantly and do at least three important or kind things each day!

Phoenix AMD
Sealy Canada
This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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