Keep an Eye on the Basket
September 21, 2011
In every industry, there are business owners who are hands-on, deeply involved in the day-to-day operations and will be so until the day they die, no matter how successful they become. There are also just as many owners who cannot wait until the day when they’ve built their company up to such a level where they can hand the keys to their operations manager, get in their car and head to the beach.
At first glance, it would seem we’re talking about two very different types of owners. But the truth is, they are much more similar than you might think. Successful owners know how they want things done, and in order to get their company to where they want it, they are continuously involved (whether in the office or in the surf) in the growth aspects of the company.
Simply put, even when things seem to be running smoothly, they keep an eye on things.
Example: one of my clients decided to shift his existing company operating system onto a software platform that would be used by the entire company. He believed that he personally did not have to be involved in the implementation of the system. He also believed (erroneously) that he thoroughly understood the software and how it worked.
He assigned the task of learning and implementing the software to an employee who had been with him since the beginning of the company. He assumed that the person knew everything about the business and about the software. One of the reasons he believed she was so qualified was that she was his bookkeeper. He believed that, because she had operated their accounting software all of that time, she knew the business inside and out. He also believed that she understood accounting, since he did not understand accounting and that, in his mind, she had been keeping the business working the best possible way.
As she began working to implement the software, she realized that it was going to change the way business was currently being done in the company. She also realized that, as a result, she was going to lose control of the company.
Over the next few months, I listened to a lot of promises and excuses from the company as to why the transition was going so slowly, and why the software was “no good.” At the same time, it was being documented that the training schedule for the new software was not being adhered to. It soon became apparent that this particular employee did not want to see the software successfully implemented.
Needless to say, the owner initially took the side of his employee, as he should have. But as we began to check out what was being said and what was actually happening, the reality of the situation quickly became apparent.
After a lot of discussion:
- The owner realized had to be actively involved in the implementation of the software.
- The owner realized that he needed to better understand how the software worked.
- He realized he needed to be more involved in how the company’s current operations were to be implemented into the software.
- He realized he needed to use the software so the rest of the company would get the message that they would have to use the software or work somewhere else.
- He realized he needed to teach his people what he expected from them and how he evaluated their performance.
As a result of the move both in software and in office location, he now knows what is going on, when it is going on and when it is not going on. At any time he is able to see the current status of all of his jobs, all of his account payables, all of his account receivables and how much liquidity the company currently has or does not have. His people understand their responsibilities and what is expected of them. As a result of this effort, both on his part and the rest of the company, everyone knows what is going on and what is not going on. They know who has done their job and who needs help getting their job done.
The entire company, including the owner, is now fully engaged in moving the company forward. And at the end of the day, that’s all anyone ever wanted.
Wishing you continued success!