(Time to read this Blog is about 2 ½ minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:

  1. My biz quote of the week:
    “When we make a commitment…we build confidence.  When we keep the commitment …we build trust…and trust is everything!”
    …Donald Cooper.
  1. Have you embraced the latest and best technology to give your business an ‘edge’? Check out this video of an incredible automated warehouse and order picking facility in the UK (Video at the bottom of the blog).  Clearly, you don’t need this level of technology, but the video may challenge you to think about what technology, systems or processes could give you an edge in every part of your business.
  2. Is there a lack of ‘urgency’ in your business? One of our readers recently wrote me about a lack of urgency in his business.  A lack of urgency is always a symptom of a lack of clarity, commitment and accountability, starting at the top…including a failure to measure performance and deal with non-performance.  These are the underlying problems that need to be solved.

If this is a problem in your business and you’d like to chat about solutions, I’m easy to find at donald@donaldcooper.com.


Now, to this week’s important topic:

You can’t grow your business without growing your people:

Whether your business is large or small and whether you’re a business owner or Department or Divisional Manager, one of your most important jobs is ‘growing’ your people.  In fact, you can’t grow your business without growing your people.

I’m constantly amazed at how few of my clients have ever sat down with each of their key ‘players’ to ask where they’d like to be in the business and in their lives in 3 to 5 years, and how they’d like to help the company grow.

These important conversations almost never happen…and many of the best people leave.  A recent poll of over 2,000 employees in the UK shows that only one in 10 believed they had long-term opportunities for growth with their current employer. They’re just doing a job …they don’t have a career.

Part of this is because most business owners and managers, themselves, are not thinking 3 to 5 years ahead.  They’re too busy solving today’s problems. They have no clarity about the future of their business, so they can’t or don’t want to talk about it with their team. It never even occurs to them to do so.

On the other hand, when you do have clarity about where you commit to be in 3 to 5 years, you start to think about the talent and skills your team needs to get you there profitably. Then, you start having conversations about growth and opportunity…and a lot more of your best people will stay.

Concours Auto Body in Calgary, Alberta is one Canada’s most successful collision repair shops.  This is an industry that struggles with a constant shortage of skilled craftsmen and high staff turnover as shops raid each other’s top talent.

So, how did Concours founder Ken Friesen create the stable and highly motivated team that helped him double his business every few years?  Ken created a clear, step-by-step career path for every employee who expressed interest in growing with the company.  He met with each new employee at the end of their first day, first week, first month…and so on.  Everyone knew where they stood, what their next few steps would be, and what their promotion and career opportunities were.

If growing your business by growing your people makes sense to you, consider these three questions…

Question #1:  What will your business, your Division or Department ‘look like’ in 3 to 5 years?  How big will it be?  Where will it be?  What will it be doing?  How will it operate?  In what specific ways is it likely to be different from how it looks and operates today?  How must it be ‘better’?

Question #2:  What does your Department, Division, or the entire organization, need to learn to be a profitable market leader in 3 to 5 years?  What knowledge, skills, systems, attitudes, customer insights, processes, innovations and disciplines must the organization learn in order to be price-competitive, service-competitive and profitable?  What technology must you embrace and master?

Question #3:  Who are your top performers?  Who on your team has the attitude, ability or potential to help move the business forward?  Given what the organization must learn, the talent you’ll need and the potential of your current team, where are there obvious ‘gaps’ that you’ll need to fill by growing your people or recruiting from outside the business?  My Biz Tool #A-17: Rate your talent pipeline. will be helpful here.  To access it, no charge, click here.

Next, create a career path for your best people…the one’s with the ability and drive to grow. Surveys show that the #1 thing that most top performers want is a challenging job with an opportunity to contribute and grow. Sit down with each of them individually and ask these 3 questions…

  1. Where would you like to be in 3 to 5 years in your career and your life? What job or position would you like to have?  What other things would you like to have accomplished or experienced?  How can we help you get there?
  2. Whatever job or position they express interest in, ask them what they think that job or position will be like.  If they say that they’d like to be the Sales Manager because they can play golf and enjoy expense account dining every day, write them off as lightweights.
  3. Next, ask them what knowledge, skills, training, education and experience they think they’ll need to perform that new job or position excellently.

Don’t expect them to have immediate answers to these 3 questions.  Most people won’t…and that’s OK.  Invite them to take a few days to think about and research the possibilities and book a specific time when they’ll get back to you with their thoughts.  If they don’t keep that appointment, you know everything you need to know about their commitment to move ahead.

Once you’ve agreed on a career path for each person, create a specific ‘Growth Plan’ for them, including the training and experience they’ll get…and when and where they’ll get it.  This doesn’t mean that everyone will become a Vice-President…but everyone should be growing in some way, even if it just means being better at what they’re doing right now.

I know this sounds like more work than just solving day-to-day problems and complaining that you just can’t find good staff anymore…but this is what real management and leadership is all about.

By the way, include yourself in this process.  What do you want to be doing in 3 to 5 years in your career and your life?  What does the business need you to become?  Are you committed to becoming what you must become to grow the business, lead your team and create your extraordinary life?

And, if you simply don’t want to become what you must become, what alternate plans are you making for the business, for your career…and for your life?  You can’t grow your business without growing your people…and without growing yourself.

That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 

Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.



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