By Kendall Rawls, The Rawls Group
Owning a business is not a simple task. Financial risks, anxiety over success, ensuring employees are taken care of, and all the tasks that go into leading and running a business are a heavy load for business owners. Add to this the continued rapid pace of change in our political, economic and technological environments creating more challenges, as well as opportunities.
Many entrepreneurs gain energy by taking on risk – it is the challenge that keeps them going, and we see this often with dealer principals. With this comes a very strong entrepreneurial focus – finding ways to revolutionize process and procedures to create more out of less, and taking exceptional care to nurture the appearance and brand of the organization.
As a dealer, you look at the monthly numbers, pushing and pulling to create better margins and to satisfy manufacturer benchmarks. You build your team around yourself and, depending upon the quality of your people, you may sometimes find that you are asking “does anyone care as much about this business as I do?” Or, you might celebrate that you have a solid team around you who are pushing and pulling the same way you are.
The reality is in today’s multi-generational and rapidly changing industry, the scenario dealers are facing more and more is “does anyone care as much as I do?” If this is where you find yourself, then you likely have an issue in the organization with buy-in — what we call an “ownership mentality.” If present amongst your employees and team, an ownership mentality fuels performance and builds tremendous value. It can act like a group of horses pulling a sled through a deep snow pack, working towards one goal to get the organization where you want it to go.
There are many approaches for fostering an ownership mentality in the organization, starting from recruitment strategies for attracting high performers and “culture-fits” to retention and people development strategies for building leadership bench strength and fostering loyalty to the organization. Here are just a few:
Start with bringing your key leadership team together to craft or review the mission and vision of your organization and discuss the impact each person has on achieving the organization’s goals. This discussion provides your key leadership an opportunity to not only understand but embrace the purpose of their role.
Assuming you have the right people on your team, they will realize their responsibility is much bigger than performing for their pay-check in that they impact all those who interact with them and the organization. Involving key leadership in strategic discussions provides them the opportunity to understand the makeup of the organizational “Kool-Aide” and the benefits to buy-in, thus creating the foundation for fostering an ownership mentality.
The use of the possessive adjectives “My” or “We” shows one is taking on an ownership attitude. What I do, impacts others; my team, my organization, my community, and my family. If I support my team, the organization, the community; then ultimately, we all win. Implementing the shift in teams to think “We” versus “Me” means cultivating an ownership attitude in the organization. Consider the following:
- Establish Role Model Behavior – As the dealer/owner, you set the tone in the organization. If you are focused on “me,” the rest of the organization will follow suit, always asking “what is in it for me.” If you communicate an attitude of WE in how you approach the organization, your family, and community; your leaders, managers, employees and customers will follow suit.
- Return on Investment. ROI in this instance does not refer to dollars and cents. It refers to investment in people. The more you invest in your people, the more they will invest (give) to the organization. Think about investment in terms of providing opportunities for professional growth, such as training and development in how to operate each department effectively as well as how to lead, interact and collaborate with a diversity of people
Another area to invest is in your community. Showing your people that you care about the community portrays a “we” versus “me” role model behavior. Think beyond donating money to charities and create programs for your people to get involved together and give to the community, providing them the opportunity to connect with something bigger themselves.
Investing in your people AND your culture ultimately motivates your team to want to invest in the organization, which fuels buy-in, loyalty and motivates your people to want to do more for the betterment of the group. No doubt, the organization will then see the dollars and cents of RIO move up.
As you evaluate the future of your business, buying/selling franchises and even in considering what a leadership transition would look like, your people are an essential part of the equation of adding value to your organization and its ability to withstand the distractions of change.
By cultivating an “ownership” mentality throughout your organization you ensure all your people are bought into the mission/vision and are working in collaboration towards a common goal.
Kendall Rawls knows and understands the challenges that impact the success of an entrepreneurial owned business. Her unique perspective comes not only from her educational background; but, more importantly, from her experience as a second-generation family member employee of The Rawls Group – Business Succession Planners. For more information, visit www.rawlsgroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.