Your Business As A School!
Why should your business be a school?
To perpetuate itself. To give the people who you employ a purpose, and to allow you, and them, the opportunity to make your business one where perpetual change means perpetual progress. To allow them to be more fulfilled, and should they ever decide to move on, leave better than when they entered.
Your role and the role of your managers in this culture and environment are to serve two functions as a manager. First you need to manage the systems. This includes the quantification, innovation and orchestration of your current systems and of course the documentation and creation of new systems. This may be an innovation in itself simply because most managers don’t see their role at all involving systems development and implementation. With these systems the focus changes to providing a better way of improving “how we do it here.” Provided your people have the skill and talent for their appropriate function in the business, this should mean working “on” the business systems provide continual growth and improvement for the business.
When you try to manage a person you create a polar relationship. Has anyone heard of that before? It’s called us and them. When you create an us and them environment you automatically create resistance, and that creates more resistance. And that’s why it’s impossible to manage people. People don’t like to be objects. You can’t manage people that way. The only thing you can do is gain agreement from your people on managing the process. That is something different altogether. It’s your people, your managers, and they are focused on the same thing – the process. So now instead of look at each other they are looking at it – the process. Now, there are a whole bunch of other things that need to occur surrounding this as well, but when your people have been attracted to your organization in the right way, and they are committed to achieving the Strategic Objective for the right reasons, effectively what happens is the tension between management and subordinate (employee, technician) completely disappears. Suddenly energy is discovered in the improvement of the process by everybody beginning to improve their own personal performance and their own personal profit center. And essentially what happens is people take personal responsibility for being in the environment to produce a singular result.
The other role you and your managers must take on is the role of the mentor. This may be viewed as the previous role one viewed as motivation. Here we meet with our people on a weekly basis, to coach and guide our people not only to do their best, but also to be their best. Motivation is a self-starting principle. The environment we create must be one were our workers can fan their own fires. These face-to-face meetings should be:
A forum for discussion on problem-solving, conflict resolution, and planning that leaves your employees feeling listened to and empowered to take action.
A coaching session that helps people get back on track to productivity if they’ve fallen off.
An opportunity to guide your people toward their personal and professional goals so their experience in you business becomes more positive and meaningful.
A way to recognize people as people, not just as successful employees.
Most important of all it must be a vehicle for helping every person in your company face and overcome the real-life issues that get in the way of being the best they can be.
To create your business as a school we suggest creating three degrees of employees; Apprentice, Craftsman and Master. Your entry level position consists of the apprentice. They come to your business not fully understanding what your business intends to produce, or the outcome your business intends to achieve. Their whole premise is based on faith. Faith that your business can produce that outcome, faith that they can, as well, help your customers receive that outcome, and finally faith that your business is everything you said it would be when they determined they wanted to join you in your passion.
Everything you do with this Apprentice needs to validate their faith. A training program that helps them to fully understand your business promise, and systems that help them produce the desired outcome for your customers that you promise. These systems must allow that outcome to be produced consistently and repeatedly, on time every time. And finally you need to provide them with the opportunity to not only learn, but also to contribute to your own learning by giving them the tools to innovate and improve the systems they work with.
The next step is the Craftsman. Here the faith they've placed has been rewarded. They see how their passion, the systems and the structure the business has created can fulfill their customers. Their belief now is centered in "hope." Hope that they can become a Master at their craft. Hope that they can have the skill and talent to truly provide a superior level of service and productivity. They continue on the path of contribution, learning and developing their own abilities, while improving and innovating the tools and systems that makes the businesses' way of doing business consistent, predictable and superior to their competitors.
The final step is the Master. The outcome of which is charity. Having completed the previous steps, having mastered the skills of their position, they are now in a position to teach others. They also continue in their role of contribution, learning and developing their own abilities, while improving and innovating the tools and systems that makes the businesses superior, but their role has expanded to the greatest degree possible. They are now in the position of teaching apprentices how to do the work, how to move up the ladder into a positon of Mastery.
When your business looks like this you have created the ultimate opportunity for your people and for your business to continue to embrace change and grow. Because your people and your systems embrace change. They demand it in order to improve themselves and the business.