In This Edition…
Featured Article – Homerun: How to Develop a Corporate Culture to Sustain You in the Top 25%
Newsbreak – Kudos / Gratitudes
“Success” Story – Lesson from a Former Client’s Experience
Homerun: How to Develop a Corporate Culture to Sustain You in the Top 25%
CEOs / business owners are a competitive group. I know of few who wouldn’t want to stay in the top 25% in their industry. Who wouldn’t want to keep hitting homeruns?
One of the critical components of a sound Strategic Business Plan (see our February and March Strategic Edge eNewsletters) in order to attain top 25% status is a Statement of Core Values. Does this Statement really help you get into the 25% status? Are they necessary to stay there? Or are they just “fluff”?
There are a number of obvious motivations we’ve heard from business owners over the decades. They want to be able to say they have a $20m company or that they are growing at 35%/year. They are preparing for live “performance,” whether they be auditioning with a potential client for their business, or with a bank for that line of credit, or with a business broker for a prospective buyer.
The owners say that their motivation is to provide a number of benefits for themselves, their families, and their employees. Owners want their business to grow large enough to hire specific talent (VP of Sales, Controller or the like) so they do not have to juggle so many roles. They want to shorten cycle times to cash or push out their AP to increase cash on hand. They want their firms to be resilient enough to weather the next downturn. They want to attract, retain and develop employees.
While good, all of these reasons are extrinsic motivators. Extrinsic motivators don’t tap into the powerful core of what energizes owners and businesses over the long haul. They do not tap into the core of longing to have a life that matters, to make meaning. Building a business using only extrinsic motivators is like swinging to hit a poorly thrown outside pitch, lunging, and coming up with just a foul.
In short, these kinds of motivators may work for an inning or two, but they will not keep your company in the top 25%.
“Our Purpose is to Make Meaning”
Imagine you’re the history-making NL Player of the Week, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. He set a MLB record by hitting 6 homeruns in his first 4 games as a rookie by knowing his sweet spot and then swinging. I would like to suggest that intrinsic motivators are the equivalent measurement for you and your team. These intrinsic motivators are the core values—your unique sweet spot—that will drive your company’s long term value and give you and your team the staying power to remain in that elite top 25% in your industry.
You no doubt have many of these core values ensconced in an employee manual or company documents that need to be dusted off! To make sure you and your team are on track to keep your firm in the top 25%, consider these 5 questions:
- “What does our business do to make a difference in the world?”
For some owners, it’s delivering a one-of-a-kind customer experience. For others it’s creating unique products. For others, it’s creating jobs or becoming the influence in their industry. Your team wants to feel that they are more than a cog in your wheel and they need your leadership to understand and connect their life with the difference your firm makes in the world.
- “What personal meaning do we get from building our business?”
We had a conversation with a potential client who knew he needed our help but expressed his ambivalence about starting work with us. In response I said, “You don’t have to worry about what we are going to ‘do’ to you. Our work involves the thrill of discovering what you want to do, where you want to head your company and allowing us the privilege of serving as a catalyst to help get you there.” For American Business Advisors, our personal meaning as a firm is seeing our clients achieve their goals!
- “Do you have the satisfaction of doing something great every day?”
Consider this imaginary story of two workers who had identical jobs preparing stones for the great Antonio Gaudi cathedral in Barcelona, Spain.
Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family
One worker came home tired. His wife asked him, “How his day was.” He said, “Well, I broke 3 chisels so that really slowed me down. And I only got 2 blocks carved. What a day!” Another worker came home tired but happy. His wife also asked him, “How his day was.” He said, “It was a fabulous day, honey. I got two stones carved. Those two stones will hold the capstone of the 3rd side door on the north side. No one knows about that entrance. But I’m so thrilled I get to be part of Gaudi’s great cathedral coming to life!”
When we enable clients to create companies that remain in the top 25% companies, we see not only their business but their lives change. Upon building his business to his next level, one of our clients told us, “When I started with you, I was ready to quit my business. You not only changed my business but you changed my life. My wife now has a husband and my boys have their father back.”
4. “How are we achieving personal growth and accomplishment?”
Successful business owners who keep their firms in the top 25% never stand still. But they do know how to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Our clients depend on us to guide them through an environment with an accelerating pace of change. Our firm is motivated to learn, pay attention, and know what questions to ask our clients so that they can pay attention to what’s important. Continual awareness and personal growth are keys to keeping your firm in the top 25%.
5. “What are we doing to help others achieve their goals?”
If we want to achieve our goals, we must look for ways to help others achieve theirs. Great business leaders keep their eyes open for other businesses in a related space that can complement theirs. Great business leaders want to see their teams achieve both business and personal goals. Remaining in the top 25% is not reason enough to stay there. You and your firm needs to consistently serve all its stakeholders—customers, vendors, employees and leaders.
Are you and your team in your sweet spot to stay a top 25% company? Learn from our client whose firm did not survive without a Statement of Core Values. And consider these five questions to help you continue to swing for the fences and be your own Trevor Story!
Kudos / Gratitudes
Jon Hokama was selected as one of the breakout session leaders for the upcoming Purposeful Planning Institute’s “Rendezvous,” an interdisciplinary gathering of professionals sharing best practices to serve legacy families and family businesses
His working session is entitled, “How Do You Resolve “The Founder’s Dilemma?” An Interdisciplinary Collaboration”
For more information about this July 27-29, 2016 event, go to the Purposeful Planning Institute “Rendezvous”
We thought it would be of equal interest for you to learn from a former
“Our Purpose is to Make Money”
We were working with a manufacturing company in the 90s that was profitably growing rapidly. They were successfully penetrating their industry and major competitors were taking note of them. They requested that we assist them with the development of a Mission Statement. An effective Mission Statement is comprised of three components: The Vision – The Mission – The Purpose. We met with the two brothers who owned the business and successfully helped them clarify their Vision (what do we want to be) and Mission (What are we going to do).
Then we started discussing the Purpose (Why are you going to do it – that is, what is your passion?) We asked them to list their reasons. “Our purpose is to make money” was the reply. “Okay,” we said, “that is good, what else might be included as motivating factors?” They looked at us rather strangely and said “That’s it, our purpose is to make money” they replied. Somewhat shocked we tactfully inquired, “What about your employees – perhaps include some language they would buy into. What about your customers? What about the environment? What about the community? Would it be appropriate to include something about any of those we inquired?” At that point they got a little agitated and replied “All we are interested in is making money.” Soon after that meeting they terminated our services and a few years later they went out of business.
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