People getting along and aligned to execute against business objectives is key to a successful enterprise. Today we have technology that enable information systems and modes of communication that make it easier for people in organizations to link, even remotely.
But it’s people in relationships that are based on a sense of trust and alignment to purpose when a business is most successful.
Periodically, I catch the entertaining business show The Profit which features entrepreneur and turn around businessman Marcus Lemonis. Each hour show highlights a business that struggles to find it’s growth footing. The typical business that Marcus is working with is a consumer products/retail business run by a family.
In each episode Marcus meets with the owners, quickly assesses their capital needs, and with an on camera flourish pulls out his check book to provide an amount that gives him control to turn the business around.
Dramatic and amusing, and certainly fun to watch.
His method is a 3 Ps refrain. In each episode he breaks down product, process, and people variables. As the show unfolds he’s typically able to identify and resolve the product and process issues.
The People part is where there’s always a struggle, and where the human drama unfolds. It’s both comedic and tragic as Marcus finds the shoes dropping here and there throughout the business.
All the plot lines are there: deception, lies, owners not really getting along, people afraid of change, negligence, and incompetence.
Marcus writes his capital check on a handshake and a straight look in the eye of the owners to soon find only disappointment in the people he’s going into business with.
It’s this faux naivete from Marcus that makes the show so entertaining. His straight ahead approach is so reasonable and responsible who could disagree? Yet the foibles of human failings are on full display.
Getting people aligned to a purpose as to Why they are in business and the future they see for it is the most important and difficult aspect to address. The emotions of people at their strongest and weakest reveal their character and in how they respond to situations. The show illuminates these qualities and usually there’s some resolution. Although in real life this is certainly not the case. The issue of people alignment to the plan is where the success or failure of a business hinges.
We see the challenge of people alignment in large public companies as they play out in creating great difficulties for those organizations. These corporations can often recover.
However, in a small family run business if owners are poorly aligned to their purpose, then more frequently this presents a terminal situation.
A helpful suggestion: Begin with the end in mind. What do the owners envision for their future? Address the immediate issues, take steps to resolve; build confidence among the people that they can achieve simpler goals.
As a business approaches the challenges counsel patience in the short run in dealing with the more stressful, emotional issues. Allow confidence and trust to build to then tackle the more complex issues.
Peter Klinge works with small to mid size private companies to help them grow. He’s currently the founder/president of Providence Partners International, Inc.