Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, was asked at the end of his remarkable career, “What would you have done differently?” He responded, “I should have moved faster. There were times I had already made the decision and then took too long to act.” This is interesting coming from a guy who is known for his decisive action. The GE culture is to be number one or number two in every market or they get out of that market. People produce or they go. Yet, even Jack wished he had moved faster.
You are responsible for two things….
As the owner of your company, you have two main responsibilities:
- You are responsible for the direction of the company. Where are you going and why? It’s your job to decide.
- You are responsible for the financial condition of the company, for keeping the company alive and well.
I’ve worked with lots of contractors who are struggling to get profitable. 100% of the time, I recommend a selling price increase. It is rarely possible to “cut” your way to profitability. Playing “offense” is increasing sales: good sales at the right price. “Defense” is managing expenses: making sure that you are spending the right amount on the right people, materials and services. In business, you have to play both “offense” and “defense.” People are your number one expense. Are you willing to commit time, money and energy to people who are not willing to pick up the pace?
As you clarify your direction, some team members may love it. “Let’s go! It’s about time to kick things into gear around here.”
Some may be more cautious, afraid, perhaps, of letting you down or making a mistake. Visit with each team member individually and let them know your vision. Let them know you are raising the stakes, and your standards.
The “Fall on Your Sword” speech…
“I’ve been thinking about what we do here. And, why we do it. I’ve been working on my business plan and our goals for this year. Let me share where we’ve been… where we are now… and where I see us going in the future.
I also realize that I have been negligent in upholding what is important to me. In our operations manual, we have laid out the basics – systems and procedures for how we do things here. We can improve our systems and I encourage your feedback and input. We can update and add to the manual. There may be times that you need to make a call. If it’s not in the manual, make the call. If it is in the manual, I am going to hold you accountable for that procedure, for that behavior. We have the opportunity to create something really special together with this business. Know that I will let you go if you are unwilling to play by the manual.”
We are too old to waste any more time.