A few weeks ago, I went into the hospital after suffering through some agonizing abdominal pain for roughly 12 hours. After getting admitted, they ran some tests and performed a CT scan to discover that my appendix was about to rupture. They quickly removed the appendix, and I am now back to 100%. Had I waited any longer to go to the hospital, or if I had been traveling in some remote part of the world, (which is often the case) the appendix could have ruptured, which could have been fatal! Fortunately, I had access to great doctors who caught and treated the appendicitis, and my health is in otherwise fantastic condition.
In business it is always wise to maintain great health and prosperity of a company and it’s people or culture. Any business has key “organs” (people, products, processes, clients) which maintain it’s health. In some cases, losing one of those elements can be lethal to the business, or certainly put it in danger. For example, I have seen companies lose a key salesperson, programmer, or client and suffer significantly from the loss. So, what can be done to ensure a healthier balance in the business? Let’s explore a few of the potential threats that a business could encounter:
The Key Salesperson:
Many companies have top performers, driving significant amounts of revenue. Losing one of these top performers can have a serious and significant impact on the revenue for the company.
To foster dedication to the company with these top performers, and other members of the team, the company must take an active role in engaging with the employees constantly and regularly. Leadership has an important role and responsibility to ensure job satisfaction and encourage dedication from their employees. See my previous article on the 3 E’s to success with your team: Enlighten, Engage and Empower for more details on this concept. Basically, it means make sure your team knows the vision for the company, is engaged in how you can achieve the vision and empowered to make it happen. Employee engagement and contribution fuel the lifeblood for dedication to the company. If employees feel engaged and appreciated by their contributions they will become more dedicated and connected to the company.
Employee engagement and contribution does NOT just apply to their current role and responsibilities. Rather, leadership should engage with each employee to discover their hidden talents and foster those for new contributions and opportunities within the company. In my previous leadership roles, I would empower members of my team to take a half day, per week to explore or work on some other project that they may be passionate about. This not only provided mind blowing contributions, but also fostered great dedication and engagement with the company by each team member.
The Key Client:
Very often businesses can find themselves in a position where a significant amount of their revenue is tied to one specific client. Losing this customer can be fatal or at a minimum seriously disruptive to the business. Analyzing where your business/revenue is coming from on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis is critical to success in any company.
Fostering the relationship with each key customer is essential. However, the relationship management should not be left to a single employee, rather the focus should be on developing the connection between the company and the key customer. There are several ways to do this, without upsetting the salesperson or team member “assigned” to the key customer. Customer appreciation company events are a great example: golf outing, dinners, happy hour at the showroom, etc…
It is further important to also, constantly look for other key customers to limit or dilute the reliability on one key customer. Many factors can impact the key customer business relationship: their business contracts, they decide to try other suppliers, a bad experience (out of your control) negatively impacts the relationship, they have customer(s) who have a previous relationship with a different supplier, new ownership/leadership changes the dynamics of the relationship, etc…
As the old adage says: “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. I have written other articles on attracting new business and customers, contact me anytime for more details or advice on this subject.
The Key Installer/Programmer:
This is a predicament I have witnessed many times over the course of my career. I have witnessed many companies over the years who may have a single technician, programmer or project manager with a brain trust of knowledge related to projects. When this key employee leaves, so does their wealth on knowledge related to the projects they deployed. Very often the company is left in a ransom position to pay whatever is necessary for the person to assist with any future or ongoing service requirements, as a very expensive sub-contractor. Or worse, they may have a broken relationship with the former employee and no easy path forward to service existing projects/clients.
There are several ways to limit exposure in this regard. First: develop a way to standardize some of the ways projects are deployed: standardize the programing and GUI that is used for projects. Use a control platform, with a programming method that is friendly to allow others to easily pick-up where someone left off and not overly complex. Many platforms now, offer rapid deployment tools and don’t require as much manual programming of macros and unique user interfaces, making it much easier for another technician or programmer to modify and update the system configuration. Second: establish central file sharing of all programming files and configurations. Many companies now use a platform like Dropbox or file sharing to keep all files related to projects in a central company storage location, rather on individual laptop. Third: create thorough and standardized documentation to determine exactly how the system was wired and programmed, enabling other technicians to easily work on the project with intimate knowledge of the wiring and configuration.
Of course many other factors can have a negative impact on the health, strength and vitality of a business: efficient operations, profit margins, invoicing and receivables, product selection, labor costs and efficiencies, and countless other elements. The point of this article is to highlight some of the sleeping threats that may be waiting in the belly of your company to rupture and create a life threatening impact on your business. Following some of the steps outlined above may help avoid a fatal blow to your business and ensure ongoing health and stability for future success!