Riddell: Get past this election, get back on focus.
Not Business As Usual
The most contentious election in recent memory is over and if you are a small business owner you may be wondering just what the outcome means for your business.
First off, take a deep breath and take some consolation in knowing that business and politics are not the same thing. The only purpose of a business is to find and retain a customer. As a result, successful businesses spend their entire time trying to always stay ahead of this locating and keeping curve. The political contrast is obvious even to a turnip.
The mantra for sanity and success has to be “get back on focus.”
While the election may have been a required distraction for civic minded citizens, at the end of the day, customer requirements have to be met. That’s the only way that employees still get paid, bills still get paid, and families continue to prosper. Whether election happiness or election despair, owner/managers have to move on and instill in their organizations the requirement of customer focus.
As simple as this may appear on the surface, for organizations populated by significant numbers of millennials, this may, in fact, not be quite so simple. There is growing evidence that this generation of participation trophy winners genuinely does not see the world through the same prism as previous generations. A recent paper by a Notre Dame University professor put forth the idea that these young adults have been raised in a cocoon of protected love. Within this protective cocoon, they have an image of the world and anything that contradicts this image is perceived as an assault. If you say something they don’t like, wear something they dislike, support someone they dislike, then they view this as an assault. People who feel that they are being assaulted generally react accordingly. While this might appeal to media reporters as easy work, customers do not want to part with their hard earned money in return for a dose of political attitude.
So despite the risk of being accused of verbal assault, the conscientious manager has to take this opportunity to reinforce the simple requirement of courtesy and politeness first when dealing with customers. The best way to promote this is by employing this same courtesy and politeness in dealing with employees but insuring that this same courtesy and politeness does not soften the intensity of the customer focus requirement. In addition, folks who cannot or will not adopt this required focus, for the survival of the enterprise, need to be released to the marketplace.
I know that those business owner/managers who deal with the perpetual labor shortage will bemoan this approach with the “sounds good, but can’t work here” excuse for poor management. I can assure you that if you look hard and long enough, you can find good employees. If, however, you lose customers then it will make the search a bit pointless when you are no longer in business.
Following a successful international business career, John Riddell turned his attention to small business/entrepreneurial pursuits that included corporate turn-arounds, start-ups, teaching, authoring business and sports columns and serving as VP for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce directing its Center for Entrepreneurial Growth.
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