By Maurie Cashman
Generators are what you should consider investing in if you want your business to grow toward your end goal of providing you with the transition to the next phase of your life.
Personal and business goals are the subject of countless articles and emails this time of year. New Yearâ€™s Resolutions. Rightâ€¦if you havenâ€™t broken yours by now I would lay odds that you will by dayâ€™s end. I donâ€™t believe in them anymore. I think they are a setup for failure and a marketing gimmick. I am learning to focus on longer-term goals that will lead me somewhere other than down the same rabbit-hole each year.
â€˜Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?â€™
â€˜That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,â€™ said the Cat.
â€˜I donâ€™t much care whereâ€™ said Alice.
â€˜Then it doesnâ€™t matter which way you go,â€™ said the Cat
â€“Aliceâ€™s Adventures in Wonderland
When setting up ownership transition plans we always start with the end in mind â€“ what are the ownerâ€™s objectives. The rest of the plan focuses on how we are going to reach those objectives.
Trying Something Different
This year I am going to approach my planning from a bit different perspective. In the past, most of my planning went into business plans and projections and other high-minded issues that I had little control over. This year I am going to focus first on Personal Goals. I have identified six. That seems like a lot. To those of you who know me, stop laughing hysterically â€“ itâ€™s a start. To those who donâ€™t, God has a lot of work to do on me and I donâ€™t want to over-tax Him.
I have chosen to focus on personal goals first because I think they are more important to a well-led life and secondly, because I have come to believe they have a large impact on business performance. I do know that you can be successful in business and be miserable. I want to work this year on integrating personal success in a more thoughtful manner to see if it leads to improved business performance. My hunch is that it will and that it will also lead to more well-integrated decisions around business and personal life.
Why Consider This?
In thinking about this column I have come to realize that in the twenty-five years I spent in the corporate world, I managed at least fifty annual and long range formal business plans and probably three hundred strategic initiatives. Not once did I ever see a section devoted to the personal goals of the employee. Now there may have been some things that would involve working on the personal strengths or weaknesses of the individual, but they were always from the perspective of preparing them for more corporate responsibility or toward removing a performance impediment. Never, not once, have I seen a personal goal that was purely for the improvement of the person.
Think about that for a moment. What is the most important asset in your company? Iâ€™ll bet you 10:1 you said â€œour employeesâ€. Now let me ask you this. If you have a backup generator in your business, how often do you start it to see if it works? Weekly? Every other week? Monthly? However often, you want to be sure it does not break down in a crisis. If you need a witness to this, simply go to the Midwest US and see how they feel about their generators in these floods.
Now, what is more important, how those generators react in a crisis or how your employees react? The generators canâ€™t fill sandbags. The generators canâ€™t move inventory. The generators canâ€™t provide emotional support. No, the generators will need someone to put sandbags around them, get fuel to them and maintain them just so that they can perform one simple function, provide minimal power.
Now think of you and your employees as generators. You generate emergency contingency plans, ad-hoc plans when those plans fail. You man buckets and do clean-up work. You move inventory and equipment out of harmâ€™s way. You prioritize what needs to be done and work together to recover as quickly as possible. You keep the generators (human and mechanical) running.
Invest in the Generators
Your generators will only work if you regularly maintain them and check on them to be sure they are ready for a crisis. The same goes for your human generators. If they are not prepared to perform in a crisis – whether that is a flood or a flood of orders, they will fail. When a customer is upset and the employee is not personally stable, they will fail. You can have plans and processes in place but if the employee is not prepared mentally and physically to execute them, the plans will generate nothing. By putting some focus on you and your employeesâ€™ personal growth, I believe you will see a greater return on investment when you must perform under pressure.
Invest in your generators so that you and they know where you want to get to, they will care about the destination and the way to get there.