Although many business owners enable dysfunction in their companies, they do not do it on purpose. No leader would intentionally drain the profits from his company. No leader would diminish productivity in her company intentionally.
“Failure in the function of a system” defines dysfunction. Simply put, things aren’t working right.
For example, a small but growing company has two partners who cannot be in the same room. One of them disagrees so fiercely with three recent hires that he has vowed never to come back to work in the office so long as they are there. Please bear in mind, after these employees were hired, work got done faster and with fewer errors. Plus, the atmosphere dramatically became more positive.
Consider how expensive it is to operate in a dysfunctional culture:
- Unhappy employees, especially good ones, leave to work elsewhere
- Infighting among employees is the norm
- Work is below standard
- Leaders are not respected
- Deadlines mean nothing
- People avoid accountability
- Silos are common
Despite its cost, companies and leaders tolerate dysfunction for multiple reasons. “This is how we do things.” “We know how to work with it.” “We do not know how to fix it.” “It’s too hard to change.” These are a few reasons leaders allow dysfunction to take root and to continue.
How do you create a culture that’s working right? The short answer is one step at the time.
1) Own the dysfunction. Be honest about the situation. It’s the only way to move forward.
2) Build trust. Admit no one has all the answers, including the leader.
3) Focus on critical areas of success. Spend energy on what leads to success not refereeing fights.
4) Define clearly the direction of the company. Identify the priorities so everyone knows how to allocate resources.
5) Be accountable to goals, deadlines, and commitments. But only 100% of the time.
6) Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Deliver the same message in countless ways.
7) Be consistent. A leader’s actions must mirror her words. See #2.
To transform your company to one that’s working well in all areas, takes time. It takes a firm commitment to make the required changes, too. It may not be a bed of roses. Well, all right. It is hard to do. But oh so worth it.
What first step in your business would make the biggest difference? Congratulations. If you are willing to convert your knowing to doing, you are on your way to profitability and productivity.
© 2016 Ann Elliott All Rights Reserved