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Edition 28 – Blue Or Orange

Sometimes, the subtlest changes can have the most significant impact in your family business. Let me explain.

We’ve recently started working with a new family business client. The business has been reasonably successful over the past few years. However, the business was controlling the owner and his life. He came to the conclusion that it couldn’t continue this way and he wanted to take back control. He wanted to spend more time working on and less time working in.

Up until this realisation, our client felt the best use of his time was being on site, doing as much as he possibly could to get the job done. Being on the tools meant he was in control of the final product. It’s what he’d always done. It’s also how he believed it needed to be in order for the business to work.

As we started our work together, my advice to our client was simple. To grow the business, you need to get off the tools. When you get off the tools, you start to take back control of the business. Whilst he understood the concept, he couldn’t visualise it. My follow up advice was “baby steps”.

As part of the intensive programme we mapped out for this client, we catch up weekly by phone. He has developed a pattern of emailing me the evening beforehand, which is great on two fronts.

Firstly, it creates specific talking points for our 8am phone calls.

Secondly, it forces him to analyse whether he has made progress in the past week. I can see that he has in his emails. I can hear it in his language. However, like any gradual improvement, we ourselves don’t notice it until those we trust point it out.

Our weekly catch up a few weeks ago was a turning point.

My client had spent two days in the office rather than being out on site. He had made the time to plan work, organise subcontractors, look at tenders, review quotes and arrange some sales calls. Whilst he felt good about what he’d achieved, he was unprepared for the biggest change.

By taking off his high-vis bright orange shirt and putting on his blue business shirt, he was immediately viewed differently by his employees. Immediately. In two days, he’d notice a difference in attitude towards him.

You see, when he wore orange, his employees treated him as their peer. He was someone on their level. Subconciously, he most likely felt he was on that level as well.

However, when he wore business shirt blue, he was portrayed as his employee’s superior. Immediately, he was seen as someone to be respected. He was seen as the leader of the business.

Again, subconsciously, by wearing business shirt blue, he most likely felt like the owner of the business, taking control and forging a forward direction.

All of this by changing what he wears. And spending the time to work on, not in.

Who would have thought that a change of colour would have led to such a change in perception, by both the owner and the employees, in such a short period of time?

This Week’s Tip

What subtle change could you introduce into your family business that could create an impactful statement about you and your business?