Recently, while at our family lake house, my daughter (Sophia) and I were walking along a wraparound deck connected to the top level of the house on our way down to go for a boat ride. Just before we headed down the wooden stairs and on to the path down to the boat, Sophia looked down and said: “Daddy, is that a lobster?”
Well, in case you don’t know, we live in Indiana. No lobsters here outside of the seafood section in the grocery stores. So I lightly chuckled and looked down at a stick on the deck that had tentacle-like branches coming off of it and said, “No sweetie, not a lobster but it sure looks like one.”
And it really did.
It was at that moment that I learned another one of many lessons I have learned from my daughter – the value of other people’s perspectives.
I realized in that moment that I could have looked at that same branch all day long and NEVER would have seen a “lobster”. Meanwhile, my daughter instantly saw it.
This, my friends, is what perspective provides.
We all have it. We all use it. And it is unique to each and every one of us.
But do we value it in our businesses? Most of us do not.
As entrepreneurs, franchisees, franchisors and the like, we usually are so focused on mission, goals, implementation and execution that we rarely stop to gain the perspectives of those we work with and who work for us.
After all, when was the last time you asked your assistant what she thought about something? When was the last time you got the input of your minimum wage cashier?
Their perspectives matter and are vital in helping you get to where you want to go in your business or franchise.
So how do you gain perspective from others without losing your focus as a business?
Here are 3 ways you can unleash and identify the “lobsters” in your business?
- Culture: You must create an environment within your business that lends itself to different perspectives. So often tactics, strategy, and mission supersede everything else. You can have the best strategy in the world, but if you don’t have anybody buy into it you are really going to miss out on the value that other people’s viewpoints bring. Culture is something that is created over time. And it is created by what you do, not what you say. Take a pulse of your own business culture. If it is lacking or stale, think about ways in which you can gain other perspectives and how that can add to your overall business. Franchise and non-franchise businesses both need vibrant cultures to survive. Systems don’t make culture, people make culture. Don’t make the mistake of just plugging people into a role and then never getting their take. This will likely lead to low job satisfaction, low customer care, and high turnover
- Engagement: You must engage with your team. And not just your executive team. Your entire team. Encourage an open line of communication and be intentional in how you do this. Reach out to your team members and pro-actively ask for their input. This will empower your team. It will energize them. Give them a sense of pride of ownership. It will also help you get a 360 view of your business from the eyes, ears, minds and hearts of your most valued asset: your team. But for engagement to be successful, and by successful I mean most impactful on your team and for your business, ou must plan it out. I recently listened to an old Steve Jobs interview where he spoke proudly of the fact that Apple did not have committees. They had teams built around different sectors of their business. And he spoke about how one of his core functions as the leader was to meet and engage with all of the teams. Not from a top-down perspective, but as one of the team members. He encouraged dialogue, discussion, arguments, intense engagement and always let the best idea win out. This was not about power or personality, it was about ideas. You should strive for this type of engagement with your team.
- Commitment: Does your team believe that you are committed to the business and committed to them? If not, you will never gain their perspective because they won’t care enough to give it to you. We have all experienced situations where people just go through the motions. Work just for the paycheck. Often times it is because they don’t feel a sense of commitment from the boss. They don’t feel like a valued member of a team. This is frustrating to the worker, the business owner and potentially devastating to a business.
To identify the “lobsters” in your business, you need to pay attention to the culture, engagement and commitment aspects of your business. This will provide your team with a comfort level to get involved, to give their opinion because they will feel like they matter. After all, isn’t that we are all striving for.