I will keep the names in this story anonymous, but trust me, the story is very real and happened just a few weeks ago from the time of this writing.
Hank’s entire field operations team “stormed the gates” with their demands on Monday morning saying, “pay us more or else we walk.”
It would take weeks or months to replace the operations team, and months or years of training just to get anyone new to the production level of this current team. Hank felt as if he was being held hostage.
Hank felt himself sink to an uncomfortable low as he thought, “are we about to lose everything we have spent years building?”
Hank called in desperation, “what do I do?” “Just pause,” I said calmly.
We rarely make stable and solid long term decisions when backed into a corner with the heat turned up. Remember this Proverb (17:28), “even a fool who keeps his mouth shut is considered wise.”
This is a classic moment where a business fire looks like it is blazing out of control, when the truth may be that the field operations team is feeling unheard, misheard, or misunderstood.
Will a quick check of the box solve a long term problem? Hardly. What can Hank do?
In the last few years authors, speakers, and industry influencers have begun to rightly perceive that there is a widening gap of human connection and humanity within the business field of play.
We have a simple formula that has helped business owners to understand an important rhythm that can be developed and matured over time:
Systems & Process + Humanity = Owning Your Role
In this dissenting moment, it was important that Hank not react but instead thoughtfully respond with both an intentional humanity (i.e. “I hear you and want to understand, so help me…) and a well thought out system and process.
The human factor requires Hank to constantly be in a state of growing personally in his ability to work, live, and interact with people…the soft skills.
The system and process factor requires a methodical walk through a structure that allows both Hank and the entire operations team to understand that a plan is now being crafted and is in place that aligns with the company’s vision, mission, values that he has been sharing with them.
There are four elements of clarity Hank will need to provide that are crucial in building a rhythm of systems, process, and humanity.
First, Hank must have a written (not just thought out) vision story. Another Proverb (29:18) reminds and warns us, “where there is no vision, people scatter.” We have found that most business owners neglect writing a vision story for two reasons: a) either the pain is not great enough yet or b) they will not go and make the time to do it (which also means the pain is not great enough yet).
When a business owner does not have a written, communicated vision the team will always feel scattered, even when they say they are “fine”.
Second, Hank will need to write a compensation process and ensure that it is well communicated to all existing and future team members over and over.
A massive cause for team member frustration is a lack of clarity of how compensation works beyond, “this is how much you make.”
Study your numbers, understand how personnel investments impact the financials of the business and the delivery of your product and/or service.
If you compensate a team member $50,000 a year, the business will need to generate far more than that to make it a wise investment.
Third, Hank must clearly write, or capture every process that the field operations team is responsible for so there is absolutely no ambiguity on what they are being asked to do.
These processes need to be gathered together and documented into specific roles.
Finally, Hank’s newly written or captured processes will now be compiled to create a super simple training curriculum that can be used to teach the field operations team with great repetition.
This is NOT Hank and his team in the picture, but it is a business similar to Hank’s named Coastal Shores who hosts a casual team training time each Thursday morning culminated each month on the last Thursday with a special “Life 101” training.
I had the honor of encouraging their team at this particular “Life 101” session and was so proud. This is CULTURE BUILDING!
Hank eventually followed the steps outlined above, stepped out of his comfort zone, and is now spending much more time in human communication with his field operations team. It is not perfect yet, but certainly much farther down the purpose-highway than that day where there was mutiny standing at the gates.
Do the hard work of creating clarity for your team, and your team will respond in kind. Don’t do it, and they will storm the gates.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.