When you start a business I think we all have aspirations of being a great leader. We’d all like to be one, right? In reality though, it is much harder, especially when there are many people involved. This is, of course, how many care businesses need to operate. Care businesses are essentially people businesses. Managing the dynamics of people can be incredibly difficult and I often hear the cry of “Why can’t they be like me”. People have different perspectives from you and they can also let you down. It is, however, important to know the difference between difference perspectives and rogue employees. I work with business owners and their teams. It can be enlightening sometimes as often people within their teams discuss matters with me they would not disclose to the owners in terms of their perspective. So my questions is…
How can you stop this from happening?
I’d like to tell you that you can stop this, but unfortunately you can’t. You can however, put strategies in place that will enable you to be a great leader now and in the future. From experience having honest, open and collaborative cultures in place with leaders that seek to understand what is actually going on is essential for businesses to grow and thrive.
The steps below explain how:
1. Understanding business evolution
If you’ve set up a business or bought a business you will/should go through stages of evolution (link to video explaining this in more detail here). When you set up initially you go through the first phase (generally less than 10 employees). Within this phase you are actively part of the business very much “all hands to the pump”. It’s often exciting and full of energy. However, businesses need to go to the next phase in order to grow. This is a massive transition process as you cannot continue to work in the business as you did previously. Many of the businesses I have worked with have come to me because they have stagnated at this point and are finding it hard. This is where the image within the post comes in.
2. You as leader
If you’re a business owner you will undoubtedly have read books on leadership. Theory is easy, reality is much harder. When you’re in the day to day you have to accept that being a great leader all of the time is unlikely going to happen. First of all, be honest with yourself. Understand your leadership style and the style of others around you. Being open with the team around you is key. Asking questions like “What am I missing here?” will provide the framework of honest and open leadership. If you don’t automatically agree with or understand someone, ask them to explain further. It is critical to surround yourself with people that you trust. And I don’t mean people that agree with you all the time. You need people who will guide you too and provide constructive feedback if they feel you are going in the wrong direction. Groupthink is rife in many large organisations and once it has seeped into senior leadership teams it can be hard to break free.
3. Giving autonomy to people
How many hours per week do you spend managing people? If it’s more than three hours a week then that’s a problem. Ideally, as a leader you should be spending no more than an hour a week on this activity. The majority of people don’t like being managed. There is a fine balance however, between managing and trusting people to do what you need them to do, especially when you are emotionally attached to your business. People thrive if you allow them to be autonomous in their role not only from a career perspective but also from a wellbeing perspective. If you’ve read my posts before you will know I often refer to Maslow. As human’s we thrive when we have purpose. In order to achieve this you have to have a coaching culture embedded through the whole of your business from top to bottom.
Feedback is an essential part of autonomy. Giving people the chance to give feedback on you, your senior leadership team and their role within it, via an anonymous survey, can provide you with rich data that will help you understand how people really feel. You can do this very easily through survey monkey. Once you have the feedback it is vital that you act on the feedback too. Engaging all employees within this process so they can see what the feedback was and how you are responding to it massively helps with engagement.
4. Shared values
Every business needs a set of values or principles that guide their business. These values should be embedded for owners, employees, clients and third parties. Once you have them, you can call upon them when needed. As an example my values are Integrity, Clarity and Added Value. Most days I call upon those values when making decisions about my business, from refusing to take referral fees to not charging clients, if I don’t think I’ve added value. If I were to go against these values it would feel wrong. Having values will inform key areas such as your client take on process as well as your recruitment and appraisal process. It’s so much easier to deal with any issues when all you need to do is call upon a value e.g. “professionalism” or “integrity”.
5. What happens when you’re not there?
When I walk into an office you immediately have a sense of what’s going on in terms of culture and leadership. A well run business feels calm and organised. In business you have to deal with a range of people and dynamics. What I know is that many business owners put off having critical conversations with individuals for fear of disrupting the status quo. If you don’t deal with these individuals then it leads to more difficult conversations later down the line. There is a good strategy of resolving issues with those individuals here.
6. Is everyone effective in their role?
If you want to grow a business the best analogy I use with clients is one of a fine tuned racing bike. Every component part is vital to the success. Each part needs to be functioning well. What I see is that in far too many businesses there is always one person that isn’t effective in their role. An easy way to measure this is to draw a table with four columns across the top. Those columns should be headed – Employee Name | Wants it | Gets it | Can do it. Write a list of all the employees then in the Wants it | Gets it | Can do it columns – mark them between 1 and 3. 1 being low, 3 being high. Example below
|Employee Name||Wants it||Gets it||Can do it|
In the example above we can see that Peter really wants to do the job but maybe doesn’t completely get it. This could mean he needs additional training. He can do it sufficiently well but may be not naturally talented.
This gives you a simple view of how people are performing in their role. But remember, this is purely from your perspective. To get a complete view, get the employee to mark themselves in the same way, then have a discussion around this. Having the open and honest conversations is important here.
All of the above are included within our foundations growth service. If you want to find out more on how to be a great leader and how we can help your care business to grow and thrive, then please do call on 01492 550401 or book in a discovery call here.