Friday, September 07, 2007

Week 45 - What Sort of Boss Are You? Unlock the Secret to Buy-In!

Getting employees to “buy-in” to your vision can be much harder than it seems. What motivates you each and every day may mean nothing to your employees. Each employee must understand what you are trying to achieve and then encouraged to behave in a manner which helps you on your journey. To put it another way, they either work for you to earn money and couldn’t care less what happens to the business long term, or, they treat the business as if it were their own and constantly look at ways of improving the way things are done. The second version is obviously preferable!

Thriving on Chaos author Tom Peters is very blunt: “Every employee must buy in or else you are wasting your time.”

I recall owning a fast food restaurant and early one morning I discovered that the freezer motor had broken down. Pulling out the Yellow Pages I found a fridge mechanic and rushed to call them. After briefly describing the problem, the mechanic’s rough response was “…you know it is double time on Sunday don’t you?” There I was with at least $5000 worth of rapidly spoiling stock on hand and all this guy’s attitude said to me was basically “do you really need me to come out today?” When he did finally turn up, his demeanor was that of an angry bear. I wonder how his apprentice or other employees view his attitude and whether they even care about his business. He did not seem to. If he does not care about his business, how do you think he treats his employees? The guy just didn’t want to be there and of course was never heard from again, despite the fact that fridges broke down at least 3 more times in the months following. This could have been easy money for a friendly business owner with a few simple systems.

Virgin, a role model

One of the more striking international examples of “buy in” is the Virgin Group of companies. Sir Richard Branson has a presence and energy almost unique in the world and he manages to convey this through all of his companies. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about the airline or some project he has simply lent the Virgin name to, nearly all of the employees involved become starry eyed, in many cases accepting below market wages for the opportunity to serve him.

You should be able to come up with a combination of measures to kick start the buy in process in your business. Borrow the energy and fun created in the Virgin culture and mix it with Jack Stack’s methods of including employees at every level. Open up your business, spread the word regarding the figures, including profitability and marketing goals and above all, bear in mind that your attitude is contagious and is reflected in your employee’s behavior. Want others to be excited? You must BE and act excited yourself.

John McGrath is considered the most influential figure in the Australian property industry. He tells us “…a business will NEVER outpace its leader”.

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