Entrepreneurs start businesses for all sorts of reasons. But the Number One Motivation has always been being their own boss and taking charge of their own destiny. And who can blame someone for searching for that elusive Personal Freedom? I did it and I’m so thankful I did! My guess is you are too!
But along with this independence comes the risk of not being accountable to anyone! And as we discussed in my last post this destructive freedom” can be a dangerous place to be for any CEO. “Holding yourself accountable” by answering some uncomfortable (and very soul-searching) questions will make a huge difference in your business… and your life! For example, ask yourself…
1. How do my employees feel about working at my company? Honestly? In a broad sense how is the morale at your company? Not how do YOU think it is, but rather, how do YOUR PEOPLE think it is? Do they enjoy coming to work? Do your staff like being around each other? Do they treasure their time at work? Have your employees “bought in” to the future of “their” company? (Do your people use words like “we” and “us” when referring to their employer?)
At first blush company morale may not seem like the responsibility of the CEO. But it is! Every CEO is responsible for the culture of their company and part of that culture is having people feeling good about coming to work. After all who wants to be part of a culture where people only show up for a pay check? Or worse, they stick around simply because they can’t find any place else to work?
One way to measure the health of your company is to analyze how enthusiastically your people do their jobs. We all work more productively when we like what we’re doing and when we like where we work. So, if your people are performing their jobs with passion, then congratulations! So why not throw a party for your enthusiastic employees to celebrate their (and your) good fortune? “Victory parties” help everyone feel even better about where they work.
NOTE: If your people aren’t passionate then ask for their suggestions on what you can do to improve the atmosphere. Your employees will probably have some pretty good ideas. (Be prepared for some uncomfortable listening including about your “lack of passion”!)
2. How is my company performing financially? Is your business enjoying sustained growth? (A building service contractor growing because of “windfall” contracts or a restoration company exploding because of weather events doesn’t count!) Are you charging enough? Are your profits hefty enough to build cash reserves? How’s your cash flow? Is it healthy?
Like it or not you as the CEO are the person primarily responsible for your company’s financial performance. You’re the one who wanted the ball so GREAT! Now it’s time to run with it! So if your business is not performing as well as it should there’s no sense looking for scapegoats. Pick up the ball and run with it!
NOTE: Your SFS team gets so very tired of hearing the same old excuses for poor owner performance. Choose one or more: a) The economy is bad, b) no one is spending money now, c) unmotivated employees, d) slow paying customers, e) family members/ spouses and/or f) phases of the moon! Oh and by the way- saying you’re “not a numbers guy” is no excuse!
On the other hand if your company is enjoying superior financial performance then once again- congratulations! Give yourself a bonus out of your added profits! (And consider sharing some of that bounty with your hard working people who were responsible for helping produce it!)
So as we learned in our last chat your employees and advisers may be reluctant to “belch out loud” by telling you how you’re truly doing as the CEO of your company. But their inner drive to perform their job (and the stark reality of financial performance) tell no lies.
In our next conversation I’ll share another huge “introspective question” you should be asking yourself. (After all, if your employees won’t “belch out loud” then you need to do so mentally!)