If you're a business owner, then there's probably been a time (several times? Maybe even daily?) when you've wondered if you run the show, or if your employees do. If this thought has ever crossed your mind, I applaud you. It shows you're thinking. And when you own a business, you need to be thinking all the time. Because when this kind of rational, critical thinking stops, that's when complacency sets in. And when complacency sets in, then I guarantee you – the employees are running the show.
So to quote the most oft-spoken admonition of one of my most admired mentors, a world reknowned clinician and past Dallas Cowboy, Dr. Bernardo "Coco" Garcia…
…"think about it…"
The key word is "think" and by definition, the word "think" can be used to describe a purposeful action based on our cognitive ability by which we...
"formulate in our minds a course of intention, based on pondering, reflecting, rationalizing, judgement and observation after which we ultimately exercise our authority to make a decision based on past and current evidence."
In other words, "think" is not about fear or doubt, it's not about some figment of our imagination, nor does it involve entertaining conspiracy theories or knee-jerk decisions. "Think" means to rationalize, based on empirical evidence. So here's something to "think about…"
In presenting workshops, seminars and keynote speaking engagements on the subject of helping business owners create "synergy" within their company's workforce, I have always espoused the philosophy that the most successful business owners are individuals who recognize, appreciate and affirm their employees, and put the employee's needs above their own. I have also maintained that the boss who consistently puts the needs of their employees as a high priority will always reap what they sow, because the vast majority of employees (not all, but the vast majority) will respond in kind by putting the needs of the company as a high priority.
In other words, when the boss puts the needs of the people before his/her own needs, the employees will reciprocate in many ways by putting the needs of the boss (which usually means the needs of the company) ahead of their own needs. Not every time. Not necessarily 100%. And not above the needs of a sick child that has to miss school to stay at home when the employee can't find a baby-sitter. But the vast majority of the time, if an employee feels that the boss puts their needs as a high priority, then the employee will be inspired and motivated by that kind of company leader, and will respond in a likewise manner putting the needs of the company (i.e. the boss's needs) at that same high priority. So the philosophy is - prioritize the needs of your employees before your own needs.
Radical, isn't it?
It must be, because whenever I present this philosophy as a keynote speaker at a convention or some association's annual meeting or to an audience of business owners, there is always a reaction from those seated in the audiance. The reaction is manifested by a number of voices who obviously perceive me to be some sort of radical, to the point that they shout out from the floor sentiments with the following flavors…
"It's my name on the company's letterhead, not theirs…"
"I'm the one with the education and expertise (favorite response amongst doctors) and if it weren't for me, none of the rest of them would be there…"
"Last time I checked, it's my signature on their "checks"…
And from the most bold and courageous who speak out of the safety of anonymity from the masses, the rebuttal that speaks most succinctly against the spirit of synergy I'm trying to teach, always comes from the voices that cry out…
"But I'm the boss, so if they don't want to do it my way, it's the highway!"
Although these voices are few and isolated, and yes, even courageous in some respect, these mindsets are almost always present, and they virtually always cry out. And when they do, there are always many heads that nod (silently) in agreement as I survey the faces of the audience in the aftermath of these outbursts.
My response to these rebuttals is always the same. I agree with them.
I agree that the company is named after them, that they do have the expertise and education, and that in the final analysis, the signature on the pay checks of the employees does represent the true authority within the company's chain of command. And yes, if the employees don't fall in line with the voice of the commanding officer, those employees can always be given their walking papers and 'take to the highway'. But after agreeing with these rebuttals, I always reply with an admonition. My follow-up comment is aimed at having these business leaders take a moment to ponder, reflect and rationalize what "value" their employees have in the grand scheme of their company's ability to survive, thrive, or dive. My admonition is:
"Try going to work on Monday morning and doing it all by yourself…"
And although this doesn't necessarily make me popular with the antagonists, it certainly makes them "think about it".
So back to the question: who runs the business? You, or the employees?
Answer: you do.
Or at least, you're supposed to. After all, you own it. You are the final authority, and ultimately, the responsibility for keeping the company afloat rests squarely on your shoulders. If you don't run the company based on your ability to successfully formulate in your mind a course of intention, based on a deliberate act of pondering, reflecting, rationalizing, judgement, observation and then ultimately exercising your authority to make decisions based on past and current evidence…then, who will?
It's all about responsibility, and while many employees may whine and complain about the 'way things are run around here the fact is, the whiners and complainers don't have the fortitude (nor the character) to be responsible enough to incorporate the changes they insist are needed, because, well, they're just whiners and complainers. The key character trait they lack is that of responsibility. If they didn't lack this character trait, then they would have the maturity to bring their concerns directly to you (or some other delegated authority). Instead, they just bitch and complain in the lunchroom, or worse, on company time when they're supposed to be working.
So let's talk psychology and sociology. In terms of individual psychology, we would call this a "rebellious spirit" but when this rebellious spirit is spread around in a sociological setting, by which I mean within the group dynamic of others in the workforce, we would call this insubordination or even "mutiny". In the military, those who exhibit this kind of insubordinate behavior are given a dishonourable discharge, because quite simply, their behavior is dishonourable. In a naval military environment, such behavior being exhibited by an insubordinate individual would result in them being "clad in irons and thrown in the brig". Going back a couple of centuries, a crew member that created antagonism and dissention (lack of synergy) amongst the crew and who was found guilty of encouraging mutiny against the ship's captain, would be made to walk the plank. Today, once such individuals are identified, they simply get fired. So you might say we've come a long way.
In modern times, we have a different expression for encouraging mutiny against the captain's directions. We call this kind of mutinous attitude the "Us vs. Them" syndrome.
And the "Us vs. Them" syndrome is alive and well in Corporate America.
Which is why you may have asked yourself:
"Who runs this company? Me, or the employees?"
This book is all about teaching business owners the psychology and sociology behind what creates an attitude of "mutiny" within the employee ranks, and how to reverse this psychological and sociological conditioning to create an environment of "synergy" where everyone has a common vision, to achieve a corporate purpose.
That's the vision that you, as the company owner, have established. But most business owners have at least some degree of difficulty getting their people to grasp the vision, and a greater degree of difficultly getting their people to achieve the corporate purpose. Here's why.
Most business owners have a common thread – they are very good at a certain talent, and because of their skill they have achieved a certain level of individual and personal success to the point that they have made the purposeful decision, after much reflection and rational thought, that they need to expand their company. In order to do that, they have brought on others (we call them employees) to help them expand their enterprise to meet the demands of the consumers who wants their particular product or service.
The trouble with expanding one's enterprise is that this involves bringing on other people, and when you add other people to the mix, the business owner is now responsible for getting them to "get on the same page" with the company's vision. And that's a real challenge, because it brings sociological and psychological factors into the realm of "getting people, to get along" in order to "get in line" with the company owner's vision and purpose. This brings us to another common thread in the lives of business owners. Asking the question: How do I do that?
After doing consulting for over twenty years, this is the most common question I hear from business owners, and it can be broken down into a five part lament:
"How do I get everyone to get on the same page…
catch the vision I have for this company…
and do the things I want to do for my customers…
the same things that I did BEFORE they came along…
which are the very things that MADE this company successful to the point that I needed to hire them in the first place?"
If this kind of lament strikes a chord with you, then all you need to understand is what makes people do, what people do. It's all about psychology and sociology. The trouble is, most psychologists and sociologists have the same problem that doctors, computer techs and accountants have. They don't know how to speak English. They speak this foreign language that the very people they are supposed to be helping can't even understand. Talk about futile. When doctors, computer techs and accountants speak medical-ese, tech-ese, or accountant-ese, the very people who pay them for their advice often leave their offices more confused then when they walked in. If we "think about it" there's a problem here, and the problem isn't a lack of knowledge, it's a lack of being able to "communicate" the knowledge.
The business owners of today who are directly responsible for inspiring, motivating and spurring their employees on to "doing business" are looking for answers as to how they can get their people to "get with the program". But there's a science to this, and the science of what it takes to motivate people to do what they were hired to do, isn't typically part of the educational resume of those who employ over 50% of the workforce in what we call "small business" (which is not so "small" when you "think about it").
Especially with today's economic challenges, business owners have serious questions about why employees don't seem to prioritize and care about the health and welfare of the very business that supplies their pay check and offers them financial security in a very insecure financial climate. Business owners are looking for the psychological and sociological answers about their employee's behavioral mindsets and conditioning, but they can't get the answers to their questions because those who are supposed to "have" the answers, can't speak English.
Those who work in the trenches of running their own businesses are, without question, experts in their respective fields, but very few have ever been trained in the technical jargon and language of experts in the fields of psychology and sociology. So how are they supposed to understand what the sociologists and psychologists (who are the "gurus" in the fields of human dynamics) are trying to say?
Think about it!
This book was written to "speak English" about what most business owners want to know, and more importantly, need to know, in order to motivate and inspire their workforce so their business can thrive, rather than just survive (or worse, dive). There's no technical jargon, there's simply plain English written in a fashion that anybody, whether they run a company of engineers, landscapers, sales reps, pizza pie makers or even computer techs can understand.
By reading this book, and then applying the principles for creating synergy which have been written in plain English (with an attempt at being entertaining and even humorous in places) anyone, and I mean anyone from any field of expertise, will be able to become a business leader that their people will want to follow.
They will be able to get their people "on the same page" and even eliminate the "Us vs. Them" syndrome.
And when that happens, there will be no question about "who" runs the company.
It's all about getting your people to get alongside with you. So if the question is whether you want your business to survive, thrive, or dive, then the best admonition I can "think" to give is to
…think about it…