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Edition 53 – E is for Engagement

Engagement is, first and foremost, about your employees and how they work with (or against) you in your family business. Over the last ten years, I’ve observed a marked shift in the attitudes of employees towards employment. If I had a dollar for every business I know that has had employee issues, I’d be extremely wealthy.

In saying that, I see a wave of change happening upon the Australian employment landscape in the next three to five years. That change will bring a whole new meaning to the term engagement. In this new era, engagement is all about:

  1. Having the right people on the bus.
  2. Pulling up at the bus stop and getting people off that aren’t right – and sometimes midway between stops!
  3. Investing heavily in the good people that stay on the bus.
  4. Imparting the vision of where you are taking the business to those on the bus (no one hops on a bus without a destination on the display board!)
  5. Accepting that some people will want to hop off the bus at an earlier stop – and adapting to that.
  6. Having people that hop on and off the bus at various stops, performing specific tasks as and when required.
  7. Having virtual passengers – people you may never see in the flesh.
  8. Having functions carried out on the bus by people that aren’t employed by your bus company.
  9. Collaborating with other bus companies to share resources, maximise returns and focus on which routes are best for each company.
  10. Paying people for how they contribute to the overall performance of the bus, not merely occupying a seat.

Owners and managers of family businesses need to be prepared for this, quickly. The old ways of engaging with your staff won’t cut it anymore. For too long, we have been over managing the poor performers and under managing, under developing and under rewarding the good ones. We need to tip the scales.

Engagement is not just about your employees. Engagement is also about:

  1. Working with your key advisors to drive the business forward and prepare it for any shocks that may occur.
  2. Regularly keeping in touch with your bankers to let them know what your plans are, how you are travelling and when you may need some more finance.
  3. Being with your customers more regularly – for if you’re not, someone else is.
  4. Working with your suppliers so you achieve the best results for your business, let them know where you are going and gain their commitment to come along on the journey with you.
  5. Consulting with your family often about the role the business plays in your family life, how it supports it, how it hinders it and how you can make it a better medium for building the wealth and lifestyle the family truly wants.
  6. Finding out what your competitors are up to for they may not necessarily be competitors but collaborators.

This Week’s Tip

Engage with people, advisors and businesses that want to engage with you. Disengage with those that don’t.