Jun 20, 2007
by PAUL SVENDSEN of Central Oregon Community College
One issue that comes up again and again for most business owners is this question: “How do I get my team as committed as I am to the enterprise?”This is probably one of the most frustrating—and important—issues for most entrepreneurs. If you want your business to be worth something when you sell it, you need to be able to show the buyer of your business that you have a loyal, committed workforce in place.Of course, that’s only one of many reasons to build a committed team.
Many business people complain that team members “don’t take responsibility, cost too much, don’t do any more than they have to, arrive late, go home early, make mistakes all the time, don’t take any responsibility, blame each other or the customers, drag their family problems into work, make personal phone calls all day. It would be easier to do it myself.”
There are literally hundreds of theories about how to solve this issue, but there’s just one common thread to win that all-important commitment:The involvement of your people.
Many business owners complain that people just show up.Many times, people turn up, do a “fair days work for a fair day’s pay,” and go home.
And therein lies the problem—they’re just showing up. This drives most business owners or managers crazy. There is no commitment. No opportunity to contribute, to get involved, to understand where the business is heading, your vision, and how they can be a part of that.
How can anyone expect anything more from employees—except to just do their jobs?! You see, if people are treated like they’re just employees, they’ll behave as if they have just a job. They’ll get there when they have to, do their job diligently (if you’re lucky), and be the first out the door at quitting time.
Think back to when you were employed by someone. Did anyone ever treat you that way, as if you were just an employee to be ordered about, never asked an opinion? Unfortunately for most of us, the answer is yes. On further thought, people usually notice that they weren’t that committed either.
You lose even more, too. You see, it’s your team members who are on the front line, dealing with your customers face-to-face or on the phone day in and day out. This means they have an invaluable and immense understanding of what the customers want, what problems exist, what could be done to solve the problems, and, better yet, ideas on how to grow your business.Great ideas for your business usually come from 2 sources: your customers and your team. If you aren’t involving your team, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your business.
The key, then, is to do something—something that demonstrates your commitment to work with them.Something that establishes what ‘we will and won’t do and what to expect.’ Something you build together, something that helps build a team. Some businesses call this a ‘team commitment.’
A great way to work this out with your team is to call a team meeting. Explain that you want to get their involvement in more areas of the business. Tell them that you want to make a commitment to them, have them commit to their roles and, together, make some commitments to customers. Then hand out a blank version, about a week before another team meeting and ask each of them to fill in their ideas.
At the meeting, thank them for their ideas, write down their ideas on a whiteboard, and distill them into a set of commitments that everyone ‘owns’ and commits to.Then print your team commitments. Frame a very large version, including all team members’ signatures, and hang it in your shop or lobby. Use it as a feature, point it out to visitors if they don’t notice it first.That way, you, your customers, and your team members have a constant reminder of your commitments.
Team commitments show customers and potential customers another way that you’re different from your competitors. Different and better. It also builds their confidence in your ability to do their job right or meet their needs.And it can result in more loyal employees, and a more valuable business.
Paul Svendsen is president of Axia Valuation LLC, a Bend business valuation firm.He is also a part-time instructor at Central Oregon Community College and can be reached at 389-4740.