DRIVING SENIOR MANAGEMENT FORWARD
Working in business you quickly learn that a partnership with your senior management team is like a marriage, only there’s no physical relationship. The playbook and attitudes you all took on over a few beers as the company may have started are often in need of refreshing. Seriously, you spend 8-12 hours a day with them, more than with your spouse, and chances are you have discussions over wins and disagreements that may blush a customer if they walked in. So what are three key ways to ensure a happy and profitable relationship?
First, act your role in the situation. No one is perfect but you can affect how you’re perceived in a heated discussion in several ways. Check in with yourself first. Are you coming from a position of being a victim in the situation? Victims can come across in a “poor me” stance that unwittingly invites the onslaught in a disagreement. Are you angry and wanting to change things? That’s not a good or bad position to take and it may motivate you out of a victimized inactive state into action. Be sure to stop and think before engaging to find the best “win-win” outcome for everyone involved. Usually there is a way both or all of you can win, and you’re often best to lead with that rather than an angry stick or as wounded animal.
Secondly, get your money discussions under control. Many partners and senior teams differ about money and its use in the business. My first question to them is whether they’ve taken the two to three day retreat together at the beginning of the year to actually set goals and plan. It’s all about having accurate financial reports, creating a budget, and looking at KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for all areas of the business to build a great foundation and future communication. Most businesses find that when they get away and actually work on these things, action driven goals and objectives can be created. Generally speaking, management teams should spend 2 days a year offsite before year end, 1 day per quarter, 4 hours per month, and 30 minutes weekly reviewing their plan to ensure goals are on track and financial decisions make sense. All these times of review should occur PRIOR to the end of the period in question. Financials can catch up in a few weeks. Stay focused, stay strong.
Finally, define the relationship. Many of my clients who have a partnership or corporation should have a plan in place if one partner dies or becomes unable to conduct their duties. Simple key-man insurance covers the death issue, and disability and other legal language can mitigate a long term disability for both the injured party and the business. A worst case scenario occurred last week with a new business I began working with: One partner was in the final stages of buying out the other partner in a long running business. After final negotiations were completed, and before paperwork had been signed, the exiting partner suddenly died in an accident. There was no key-man life insurance in place and now the remaining partner is in business with his deceased partners’ spouse. It’s unclear whether the surviving spouse had been made aware of the negotiations to sell at all. Now it’s unclear what she may want to do with her half of the business. It’s a mess.
As business coaches, we frequently engage attorneys or CPAs and sometimes counselors to help our clients. Helping clients avert the proverbial train wreck is common-place in my role. As a coach, we help businesses define the plays in the playbook, create new ones so that they win faster, and measure their success against a scoreboard of opportunities that lie ahead.
If you’ve never experienced any of these three situations, consider yourself lucky. If not, it may be time for us to talk further.