Pushing The Rock
Ever been on a diet? Then you know what I mean when I say the first day, even the first week, is totally doable. But as a lifetime yo-yo dieter, I have lost enough weight to have created a second Al Levi.
The problem is I also have put that much back on and sometimes more. That’s because it’s easy to be in control of my eating for a short time. It’s much tougher to maintain it.
Running a company can be a lot like yo-yo dieting, or worse. It’s easy to get fired up and take control of your company. Well, it is for a day!
That’s right, you can clean up your shop, get serious about doing ride-alongs and become a rockin’ shop for a day.
The harder thing is taking control of your company for the long run. A short burst of focus and energy is rarely maintained because it’s tough to keep investing the type of energy and drive it takes to keep the business momentum going in the right direction.
The reason is human nature takes over.
How many people do you see at the gym on Jan. 1? How many of those same faces do you see on Jan. 31? You get the point.
To me, it’s like trying to push a rock up a hill. There may be some places that are flat to rest, but it’s only a resting place and only for so long. More times than not there is no time or place to rest, and when you stop advancing the rock forward it comes sliding back as fast, if not faster, than you pushed it up the hill.
It gets to be exhausting!
What you can doYou need to get more people to help you push the rock because the work becomes easier with more people pushing. This means getting the elusive buy-in to move your company forward from those who have the ability to make that progress and to potentially undermine it.
Then, look ahead so you see where you’re going and find the easiest path up the hill. You need to be proactively removing the obstacles that make pushing the rock up the hill harder than it has to be.
Here are five big obstacles to a smoother rock-pushing path:
1. Allowing staff members to be on your team who actually try to push the rock down the hill and against your best efforts. They would seek to sabotage the good efforts of those who are trying to help. Why would they do it? They may feel it’s job security or it may be just their makeup. It doesn’t matter much because they must get onboard or go. They may not make it obvious they’re out to defeat your effort, but it’s rare when the team doesn’t know who is working against it.
Go out and ride along or do a side-by-side and it will become clearer who is helping and who is hurting the efforts. You must accept that, like a rock precariously perched on a slope, company progress rarely is stagnant. It’s either moving forward or sliding backwards.
2. Special treatment for a chosen few takes the heart out of the team that is pushing hard. Nepotism and favoritism are the enemies of a cohesive effort. It takes a tough, fair-minded leader to navigate around these impediments to progress.
3. Not empowering or trusting your staff to help you because you think you are the only one who knows how to push the rock the right way. They know you don’t trust them. Unless you learn how to build a team, build trust and get buy-in, your progress is doomed.
4. No clear incentive to those who are willing to move the rock forward. Without rewards such as bonuses, compensation gains, a chance for promotion and more, your team won’t see how their hard work pays off for them and not just you. Your efforts will be undermined and whatever success you experience is likely to be short-lived.
5. A loss of focus because there are too many paths to choose from. Eventually, paralysis sets in and nothing changes for the better. Or each day there is a new crisis to focus on, typically due to a lack of advanced planning and execution of business fundamentals that makes the easier and more direct path to the top tougher to see, let alone follow.
There is no “game over” in business. Business is a series of adjustments. The longer you’re in business, the more you should have experienced the ups and downs and sideways. A true leader finds and builds the right team, gives them powerful incentives to win and helps select the easier path to success for all.