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Edition 279 – Leverage

Here’s some of what has been happening in the lives of people I know, or in the wider orbit of the people I know, in recent months.

  1. Relationship breakdown – some of it temporary, some of it permanent, all of it upsetting for the individuals involved.
  2. Major health issues accelerating unexpectedly – with a few requiring urgent surgery.
  3. The very sad passing of newborn children – surely the most difficult life event to endure.
  4. Wake up calls for health issues long ignored, but now stepping up a gear.
  5. The death by suicide of people that, to you and I, are otherwise healthy and have everything to live for.
  6. Running a business and home schooling children in a city in lockdown for the fourth time – and now for a grand total of 22 weeks since March last year.

None of it is family business related, yet all of it impacts the family businesses of whom each of these individuals are a part of. So, by association, it actually is family business related.

Maybe the experience of living through COVID in 2020 and the uncertainty that continues to generate, is impacting people. There is no doubt the fragility of people, right now, is more heightened than it has been for a long time – and maybe ever. It’s a little like some people are broken and they’ve not had the time to repair themselves for a long time.

This is why I’m of the firm belief that, right now, we need to give people leverage.

If someone is underperforming in their role in your business, take the time to find out why. Whilst it might be (and most likely is) something in their personal life, the fact that:

  1. You’ve reached out to them; and,
  2. You’ve made them aware of a noticeable drop in performance.

Will at least start the conversation and may actually commence a course of correction.

As family business owners and managers, I truly believe our biggest role is to nurture and develop our people. If we show no interest in them, they may well show no interest in our businesses. If they show no interest in our businesses, they may very well:

  1. Do the wrong thing whilst they’re in our employ; or,
  2. Leave.

Neither of those are an ideal alternative and both of them create significant financial and business consequences that can be temporary – or may well be long lasting.

I get it that we’re not running kindergartens for adults everyday we open up the doors to our businesses. I also understand that for most employees, less than a quarter of their week is spent at work. In spite of that, I’m very conscious of the fact that taking a moment to check in with those around us, to see how they’re doing in life, may not only explain some of their behaviour or performance in the workplace, but might just save a life.

If someone’s performance or behaviour has changed, there’s an underlying cause.
Rather than blame them for the result, take the time to identify the cause. That’s the first step.