Company Doctor: Make sure your staff understands your vision

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm

The winners of this year’s Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce Future 50 Awards were surveyed on a number of categories. In the second part of my series looking at the results of those surveys, I pointed out that there were perceptual disconnects in a number of categories between how the entrepreneur viewed themselves and how they were viewed through the eyes of their peers.

In order to close that gap, I will prescribe several strategies that will begin to realign those views.

There are four simple strategies that I can prescribe that will aid in the healthy growth of your business.

• Communicate your passion and vision on a regular basis to your peers and employees. Sharing your passion gives focus and energy to the organization.

• Hire employees that support your energies as the hunter, not compete with them. Hire for the future, recruit people that will grow with the business, not inhibit that growth.

• Take on the role as a team leader and meet with your team on a regular basis and bring your employees into the decision making process.

• Allocate time to build relationships with your team. They are your internal customers and as important as your external ones to the continued growth of your business.

Communicate your passion

The Future 50 survey findings indicate that when it comes to motivation, no perceptual gap exists. Your peers experience daily the energy, drive and passion of entrepreneurs. It is expressed in their words, actions and accomplishments. If any gap should exist it can easily be closed by sharing your passion with your team. As a company grows in size and geography, this strategy becomes harder to accomplish. This passion needs to be shared at each level of the organization. Whether that passion is to exceed your customer’s expectations or to be the leader in a market segment, it needs to be communicated to your peers on a regular basis.

There is nothing more exciting than being in an organization in which the passion is shared at all levels. I lived that passion in the 1980s when I was at Gimbels Midwest. Tom Grimes was the chairman and had a passion and a vision for growing the business that was shared with his managers. A synergy existed among the top managers that broke down the barriers to success. There was only one goal, to achieve Tom’s vision.

Hire for the future

The data collected indicated that during the “rapid growth” stage of the business, the employees feel that coaching and training are not management priorities. They see the entrepreneur totally focused on developing and growing the business. The obvious conflict is: should the entrepreneur allocate time to coaching his employees or to pursuing his or her passionω

The answer is twofold. When hiring future managers and team leaders, be sure that one of your selection criteria is the ability to coach and train. The entrepreneur will not have the time or desire to perform these activities when they are overly focused on building the business. In the initial stages of growth, this is a task that should be delegated. The respondents indicated that as the business passes the $2 million level and the infrastructure is built, they find more time to coach and lead the team.

This brings us back to an old phase in business, Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside. Here, one partner runs the business, while the other brings in the business. One person cannot do both effectively. It takes a confident leader to delegate decision-making authority to a top manager. When this does not happen, the potential for growth is drastically reduced.

Take on the team leader role

The perception, from the surveys, is the more educated the entrepreneur and the larger their business, the better they were at being a manager. Here, the peers are rating the effectiveness of management on the size of the business and the number of degrees the entrepreneur has been awarded, instead of their daily interactions. Again, it appears that during the rapid growth stage the level of interaction between the entrepreneur and their employees is minimized and they cannot get a clear picture of their management style or acumen. Those who function and see themselves as team leaders received higher ratings from their peers. This will also afford you the opportunity to share the passion with your peers as well as providing them with an insight into how the business is run. Too many entrepreneurs create an environment in which their employees feel left out of the process, and that leads to loss of critical human capital.

Build relationships with your team

Building relationships with employees, peers and team members is another area in which disconnects were visible in the Future 50 survey. Both the younger more educated entrepreneurs and the serial (started and sold numerous businesses) entrepreneurs were seen as ones who worked at building relationships. Again the temporal variable is the key component. When businesses are in the rapid growth phase, there is not enough time to do everything, so something must suffer. It appears that coaching and training are put off, and other interpersonal more human activities are the ones that suffer the most.

Again we return to the concept of infrastructure. Without a strong staff, one that identifies with the owner’s passion, the business will not succeed no matter how hard the entrepreneur drives the organization. The serial entrepreneur knows from his or her past successes or failures that relationship building is critical to the continued profitable growth of the business.

The more educated entrepreneur has learned in their graduate classes the value of team building and a shared vision in the success of an enterprise. When Midwest Airlines was in its rapid growth phase, chairman Tim Hoeksema would regularly have lunch with his employees throughout the system. This permitted him to receive first-hand feedback from his employees while having the time to share his vision and passion for the airline.

The following is the profile of the survey respondents (who are Future 50 winners and a selected group of local entrepreneurs). The majority of the 42 respondents were males, only three were females. The other demographics of the respondents were as follows: 66.7 percent of the respondents were between 31-50 years of age; 70.7 percent had an annual sales volume of $3 million to $5 million; and 78.6 percent had a college education; 33 percent had a master’s degree or PhD.

If you have not been part of this research and wish to evaluate your EQ, your Entrepreneurial Quotient, you can email me at A questionnaire will be sent to you and when returned completed, it will be scored and the findings shared with the respondent. Your participation will assist us in building our data base and continuing our research.

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