If you strive for improvement, or you want to be a better leader, you need to ensure that you practice what you preach. But while there are so many behavioral approaches to running a business, if you don’t have that structure in place, you aren’t going to be able to hang greatness upon it. As such, if you need an organizational structure, especially as a small business where everybody is making him and doing everything, this can help to define roles, and create a less fuzzy approach. So, with this in mind, how can you create an organizational structure for your small business, so that everyone can kick ass?
Focus On The Three Main Elements
We are referring to operations, your sales and marketing, and your financial and administrative processes. Once you lay out the priorities for each of these three departments, you will be able to figure out what you are missing. In terms of the operations, it’s all down to the processes. And if there are aspects that you are failing in right now, then you might want to consider outsourcing. There are plenty of resources out there. A company like a Red Key that provides managed IT services, can you create a more thorough sensibility, especially in terms of technical processes. You can’t expect everybody in your small business to be acutely technologically minded. As soon as you start to focus on these three main elements, and you understand what you miss, you are ready to fly!
Defining Specific Roles
Under these three main elements, you can start to split it into even more defined roles. Sales and marketing can encompass public relations, account management, as well as maintenance of the website. Once you start to determine the specific tasks, you then have to go through everyone in your organization to see who can fulfill what role. If you have a small company, by clearly defining roles, especially according to skill, you will need to help encourage more responsibility and ownership. And from there, you can start to create a more defined organisation.
Implementing The Structure
The preparation is the easy bit, you’ve got to see it in action to truly understand if it makes an impact. Having the structure in place, and doing a thorough vetting process will help you to put the best person for each role. And while you put this in place, you’ve got to give yourself some leeway. Things may not go according to plan, but also, you may find that your employees will struggle in, what are, essentially, new roles. Give yourself that breathing space, and if something isn’t working, you can go back to the drawing board. Implementing the structure needs to take a couple of months, at least. At this point, you may find that you are concerned with the skills of a role, but there are always going to be teething problems.
In a small business, it can feel like you’re being thrown to the lions somewhat, but once you prepare, but also allow yourself to fail, you will benefit, and the structure becomes the thing you hang your ideals upon.
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One half of all new organizations will close their doors forever after only five years. Those organizations – started with vision, enthusiasm, and hope for the future – will leave employees, clients, and constituents in limbo. Within sixteen years only twenty five percent will still be viable. There are a number of reasons for failure but some result from their own success.
There is a definite cycle in the life of organizations. It is not chronological but a functional cycle. A simplified pattern might include five phases; Initial Structuring, Formal Organization, Maximum Efficiency, Institutionalization, and Disintegration.
At start – up a new organization there is a sense of destiny among the leaders and their initial team. In the beginning of any organization a Utopian future is just over the horizon. In initial structuring there will be a strong commitment to the leader’s vision and mission. Decision making is spontaneous, plans are being formulated and there is little organizational structure. As a result change and course corrections are easily implemented. There is a sense of ownership in the entire team. Innovation and creativity thrive in new organizations.
As the organization continues to move forward, roles are established and understood based upon the mission and purpose. The sense of ownership grows and one’s identity is tied to the organization. Structure is created only in response to functional needs. It is still easy to incorporate changes. Morale is still high and leaders listen to suggestions from all levels.
When the business approaches “maximum efficiency,” vision, mission and purpose are still highly visible and well understood. Everyone realizes the common goal and work together for its achievement. Even new people quickly find their place and participate enthusiastically. New programs are created in response to new needs. Leaders freely delegate responsibility and authority as new roles are created. New proposals are given serious consideration. Morale and self-esteem are at their highest levels and confidence has become contagious.
As the organization approaches the institutionalization phase, there is a lowering of understanding purpose. Individuals begin to focus on their own areas of responsibility and do not extend themselves. Few, if any, new programs are added. Now the organizational structure itself creates needs, rather than responding to missional needs. Changes are not considered if they radically depart from the status quo. Morale becomes polarized into two groups; high and low self-esteem.
In the disintegration phase the vision, purpose, and mission are lost and survival of the organization becomes the purpose. Programs are eliminated for lack of participation. It is difficult to recruit new participants and/or employees. Ten percent of the workers are doing ninety percent of the work. Funding has become difficult and services are being reduced or eliminated. The primary focus is on preservation and survival. In the disintegration phase, Leaders rationalize why goals cannot be achieved. Morale is at an all-time low. Leaders do not know how to stop the decline. There is a frustration and despair among workers whose self – esteem suffers.
Avoiding or Breaking the Cycle
This cycle can be observed in all types of organizations; businesses, religious groups, and even nations. All are too big to fail, but they are failing. The problem lies in the organization itself, its culture, leadership, and the organizational structure. In large bureaucracies a change takes time, while in smaller organizations change comes easier and quicker.
Reorganization is not the answer to institutionalization. The answer is chaotic disorganization that can change the culture as well as the structure. This will require strong leadership and a desire for change throughout the organization. Chaos becomes that motivator. When a person is suffering from an infected wound that threatens the entire body and medications have not worked, amputation is often the solution.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember]
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William F. Johnson is an award winning author writing primarily in the field of leadership and personal development. His background includes starting and leading three different business entities and he is currently CEO of a non-profit organization. Bill can be reached at www.wfjohn.blogspot.com.
Bill’s book, Disorganize or Bust (Aslan Press), provides an understanding of organizational development, traces some real life organizations through their life cycle, and is provided as a tool for leaders and entrepreneurs to avoid or slow down the institutionalization process. It will be uncomfortable for some whose main desire is a smooth operation, but growth is not smooth.
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On September 25, 2015, Warner Brothers released The Intern: Experience Never Gets Old starring Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway; written, directed, and produced by Nancy Meyers. The September 2015 edition of Chief Learning Officer Magazine featured an article called Don’t Undervalue Older Workers by Lynn Schroeder. Nancy and Lynn must acknowledge that Edgar Lee Masters planted the seeds for appreciating seasoned workers back in 1914 when he wrote the play based on tombstone epitaphs in the western Illinois hamlet of Spoon River.
When Edgar Lee Masters penned his eloquent formula for genius, which he attributed to one fictional – albeit deceased – Alexander Throckmorton in the classic Spoon River Anthology, he bequeathed to all of us an elegant guiding principle for organizational leadership: genius is a composite made of some parts wisdom and some parts youth. Many organizations have exactly what they need for genius; that is seasoned workers and young workers. The problem is that so many organizations see older, experienced workers as problems; blocking the door for younger, less expensive and less experienced talent to enter the building. If we’re to believe Lynn Schroeder, Nancy Meyers, and Alexander Throckmorton, organizations who deliberately integrate wise, experienced team members with young, talented, and energetic team members, eager to destroy barriers and bifurcations, have the potential for genius—not individual genius; but true, organizational genius.
After the meltdown of 2008, there has been a corresponding breakdown in the corporate conveyor belt. At some of the largest and most recognized organizations in North America, senior executives of pension age are refusing to drop off the end of the belt into the retirement bin. Unable to retire with the financial status they had hoped for, older workers are turning around and walking back up the conveyor in the opposite direction, straight into the line of upcoming middle managers.
Rather than a pile-up of junior and senior workers, the traffic jam on the conveyor belt gives the organization a shot at true genius. Assuming the seasoned and still-working managers were retained because of their leadership value, one might conclude that our nation’s companies may have the greatest opportunity to reinvent leadership since the GI Bill; shared leadership.
What will happen if organizational designers deliberately pair more experienced older workers with less experienced younger workers in leadership dyads – pairings of employees – one experienced and capable, and the other relatively youthful, but clearly talented and loaded with potential. These dyads could replace solo, sometimes rouge leadership at the most senior executive and even middle management levels in the public and
Implicit in this model: decision-making and rank are equal and shared among these co-leaders. Because neither has ultimate authority, negotiations (and decision-making) inevitably integrate the untempered optimism, impatience, and master-of-the universe-inspired creative energy of the young mind with the more concrete, real-world experience of the more seasoned manager. The result is practical genius.
The leadership dyads would remain accountable to one another and all constituents, mutually dependent, sharing responsibilities, in continuous tension and continuous refinement. The organizational homeostasis of a shared leadership model, sometimes referred to “distributed leadership,” can be both more invigorating and more stabilizing than a traditional top-down “Great Man” model that endows individuals – and, eventually, a single powerful leader – with ultimate (and sometimes weakly-challenged) institutional authority. When well executed, the end result of shared leadership, if not genius, is certainly greater clarity, better creativity and reduced opportunity for error.
Wisdom and youth are unlikely bedfellows, replete with natural suspicion, impatience, cultural and institutional incompatibilities. But, from the tension can come great innovation. Walt Disney called differences of opinion on his project teams “creative tension” through which a more creative, higher quality, and sustainable product or idea emerges. Notably, shared leadership has long been the naturally balancing preference for leading households and raising children. It is the theoretical underpinning beneath successful self-directed teams and is a sustainable governance model for faith-based organizations.
A Rising Tide of Research and Academic Attention
The concept is gaining no small amount of momentum among thought-leaders in the realm of leadership research. Writing on www.sharedleadership.com, Michael Marlow, former head of the AT&T Learning Center, and Lorri Lizza of the Society for Organizational Learning and former vice president of Human Resources at AT&T, believe that shared leadership is a growing global occurrence:
“Shared leadership is a growing phenomenon around the world. It is a response to thousands of years of an opposite form of leadership—warrior leadership. When we share leadership, we establish relationships so that each member of an organization, team, family, or community can find and bring forward their gifts and lead.”
Shared leadership thought leaders, Michele Erina Doyle and Mark K. Smith (2001), write:
“Many writers – especially those looking at management – tend to talk about leadership as a person having a clear vision and the ability to make it real. However, we have begun to discover that leadership rests not so much in one person having a clear vision as in our capacity to work with others in creating one.”
In Rice University’s OpenStax, Angus MacNeil, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Houston, and Alena McClanahan detail requirements for successful shared leadership:
Equal partnership: one person cannot have power and the other not. This balance of power, MacNeil and McClanashan explain, is probably among the hardest aspects of shared leadership.</li.
A shared goal: Despite divergent opinions and differing tactics, each member must recognize the common purpose and be prepared to let go of individual agendas.
Shared responsibility for the work of the group: All the participants share responsibility and accountability for the work of the partnership.
Respect for the person: The partnership must recognize and embrace differences in the full group to build a strong, cohesive unit that can work well together to accomplish a goal.
Partnering in the nitty-gritty: Working together in complex, real-world situations.
As a SVP in a firm that specializes in leadership coaching and organizational consulting for Fortune 50, Fortune 100, and Fortune 500 companies, I can report that executive coaches and consultants at human resources consulting firms and within internal learning organizations are not yet behind the movement to team up senior leaders (many of whom are circling in a self-imposed holding pattern outside the Human Resources Department) with the strong bodies climbing the ladder beneath them.
Successful shared leadership will require the best of wisdom and youth, not reporting to one another, but working with one another. There is true hope at the flashpoint where the seemingly immortal courage of the young, the leavening influence of the wise, and the potential for genius that is in all of us—converge.
This approach is not necessarily suitable to all enterprises. Military battlefield leadership, for example, does not customarily have the luxury of time to incorporate the best thinking of numerous individuals. The same might be true of professions such as emergency medicine. Yet while a military operation in the field might not benefit from shared decision-making, the Pentagon might. Equally, a hospital board might do well to deploy the shared leadership strategy as well. It is important to remember that this approach is directed at the leadership/management level. Individual transactional activities (for example, trading on the floor of a stock exchange) may also benefit from intuition and snap decision-making of a single expediter.
What do organizations need now more than ever? Wings that are strong and tireless guided by wisdom from the high places. That could be Robert De Niro. That could be Alexander Throckmorton. It could be the older person you nearly knocked down as you rushed into the office this morning. Youth is one thing. Wisdom is another thing. Genius is the ultimate thing according to Albert Einstein:
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent.
It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”
Wisdom and Youth can create the wisdom.
About the Author
John Hoover, PhD.
Senior Vice President and Leader of the Executive Coaching practice at Partners in Human Resources International (New York), Dr. John Hoover is a former executive with The Walt Disney Company and McGraw-Hill. He is the bestselling author of a dozen books on leadership and organizational behavior from Amacom, Career Press, Barnes & Noble Publishing, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, and Saint Martin’s Press.
Dr. Hoover is adjunct faculty at Fielding Graduate University and the American Management Association. He has coached, lectured, or served on the faculties of Amherst, Aquinas College, Cal State Fullerton, College of the Desert, Middle Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, and Yale. As outlined in greater detail below, he is an experienced consultant and executive coach to C-level executives and board members in the private sector, academia, and not-for-profit social service agencies.
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I began this year in retrospect by reading a 60-year-old book on the masters of selling. The book, titled “America’s Twelve Master Salesmen,” was written and published by B.C. Forbes & Sons in 1953.
The book was based on the fact that each one of these master salespeople had one extremely powerful overriding principle or philosophy upon which his or her success was based.
Not that it was their ‘only,’ but rather were the words they stood for. For example: When you think of Martin Luther King – you think of “I Have A Dream.” He stood for those words. When you think of Patrick Henry – you think of, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” When you think of Richard Nixon – you think “I’m Not a Crook.” (and you’d be thinking wrong)
It is amazing how self-truths become self-evident truths after thirty or forty years of exposure – one way or the other.
Back to the book. Suppose you could adopt (or adapt) all of these master’s single best characteristic into your own set of capabilities. That would be power.
And so, to challenge your 2015 thinking, here are the master’s philosophies from 1953. And yes, I have added my own to the list – even though in 1953 I was a mere child.
James A. Farley (corporate executive) Principle: Idlers do not last long. Starting as a door-to-door salesman, raising to Vice President of Sales for Universal Gypsum, and ultimately a board of director for several large companies including Coca-Cola, Farley believed that doing several things at once was the key to accomplishment. His secret was doing new things at the same time he was following up and building relationships. Often sending 100 letters a day, he was renowned for making and keeping friends.
Max Hess, Jr. (retail store chain owner) Principle: Strive for a specific goals. Hess’s father used to say, “There’s no fun or excitement in just running a store. That way it’s drudgery. The fun and excitement come out of always figuring ways to stay ahead of the other fellow.” He believed in the stimulating power of keeping Hess Brothers forever exciting – exciting not only for the people who shop there but for those who work in the store. Hess made a business plan full of goals. And in a small town environment achieved big city results by working his plan every day, and having a happy army of people (his employees) helping him every step of the way.
Conrad N. Hilton (hotel owner) Principle: Make them want to come back. “It is our theory that when a hotel is in the top-glamour category… you just can’t make it too luxurious. You heap it on. You never stop pondering the question, ‘What aren’t guests getting that they might be getting in the way of elegance and personal attention?’” Hilton knew that one hotel is like any other hotel. The difference is in how you treat the guests. All he asked of his employees was to be nice to people so they will want to come back. They have been coming back for nearly 100 years.
Alex M. Lewyt (manufacturer of the Lewyt vacuum cleaner) Principle: Believe in your product and love it. So will the world! He was an engineer that was convinced he had built the world’s best vacuum cleaner. Advertised it before production was finished. Created a demand in the market with no product (a market vacuum if you will pardon the pun). When the cleaner finally emerged on the market, it was swept up (sorry again). Four million sales in four years. Lewyt said that having the best product is not enough. You must believe it’s the best, and share your passion through every marketing and advertising means.
Mary Margaret McBride (radio broadcaster and columnist. Influencer of millions) Principle: Honesty is the best policy. “If I am convinced in my heart and mind that I’m speaking the truth, I approach the job as I would a sale — with zest and interest. And in my heart I know that I am actually performing a service on behalf of my listener — who is in reality, my customer. Honesty breeds loyal customers.” Her values made her a fortune.
Gitomer Note On Honesty: When you hear a corporate message like: “To serve you better…” or an employee says, “We’re doing the best we can…,” no matter how you want to defend those words, they’re lies.
The Orison Swett Marden quote: “No substitute has yet been found for honesty,” is a benchmark that everyone will read and agree with – yet very few will follow.
OK. There’s five of them. Pretty cool so far, huh? Next week in part two, more of the master salespeople of their time, including Red Motley and Elmer Letterman, will reveal sales insights that will take you to the next level.
About the Author
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].
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