Q: My business is struggling and I’m having a difficult time finding help. Locating real productive, energetic, creative and talented help has been very allusive. Any suggestions on where to turn to sort things out?
A: Many business owners fear their subordinates and clients will learn how inadequate they feel and are looking for help managing in a faster, cheaper, better global economy. Although hiding vulnerabilities is hardly new, this concern has been exacerbated by a new fear of either becoming obsolete or technology-driven toast in a world of business transformation.
"I've never seen business people have to fake it more," says B. Joseph White, past business school dean and interim president at the University of Michigan.
A good place to begin the search for help is to take a closer look at what has worked in the past and what has not. Once you have clear examples of good hires and bad hires, it would be important to look deeper to determine why one person worked out while the other did not. This deeper search should also focus inwardly to determine what affect you, as the business owner/manager, had on both the positive employee experience and the negative one. When we are open to becoming more self-aware, the core problem may solve us rather than we have to solve it.
Developing commitment in a world of “free agents” is key to attracting talented people and realizing their potential. Many free agents and small business owners spend little time and money on their own professional and personal development. Yet, they have great interest in seeking positive change to improve their business development, career and financial and physical health. Within professional and business development, they are most interested in productivity & effectiveness, planning and sales/marketing. Producing results, attaining goals, achieving success and enhancing quality of life are important.
Reading business articles and self-help books is good. But, in my experience, there is no cookbook that has a recipe for your business-issue-of-the-day. And “going it alone” to struggle down one blind alley to the next is not a good use of your personal time and energy.
In this mobile employment age, it’s rare to find a lifelong mentor available to support and guide you through your struggling business issues---but---work to get yourself an agenda-free surrogate mentor. Someone who has been where you are now, who will listen to you and brainstorm with you, provide an independent viewpoint, encourage you and who you can be accountable to.