Every business owner should read Brian Harding’s Service Industry Success: Develop Your Team, Empower Your People, Attain Your Freedom, particularly those who run smaller businesses and are so busy running their businesses that they never have time to step back and see the big picture, much less take a vacation. Harding, who has years of experience as a business owner and consultant, is aware that this issue arises because either business owners try to control their companies too much and fail to delegate control to their staff, or they believe they can’t trust staff to manage the company without constant supervision.
According to Harding, the underlying problem here is that employees don’t adhere to protocols, and this problem frequently arises because staff weren’t adequately trained or because the right processes and procedures weren’t put in place. Owners of businesses must assist their teams in developing autonomy if they want to be able to go away from their operations for longer than a day or two. Business owners frequently complain to Harding, who works as a consultant, that their staff members “don’t get it.” When that occurs, he asks them to list the top three behaviors of workers that lead to issues. Then he asks them to record the number of hours they devote to training staff members on such topics each month or annually. The typical answer he receives is, “Oh, right. That would certainly explain our lackluster performance, huh?”
As enlightening as that approach is, Harding also makes clear that the problem is not as simple as training people how to follow processes. Although most people can follow instructions, they don’t always want to.
When Harding writes, “All people, including your staff, make decisions based mainly, if not entirely, on what they want (or want to avoid), with little regard for what you as the business owner want,” he serves as a sobering reminder to business owners. He also reminds us that most people leave their employers, sometimes the owner of the business, rather than their employment. Owners must therefore learn to treat staff members in a way that makes them content with their positions and the environment at work so that they want to succeed. It will “seriously limit our capacity to create the trust we must have in our team to turn over management, and get free from the sense our business owns us” if business owners are not entirely honest with themselves in this regard.
Harding then suggests solutions to these problems. Realizing that not everyone is the same and that not everyone wants the same thing is among the most crucial. We must get to know our staff members. He claims, “We need to be able to interact well with a variety of personality types in order to lead, manage, and sell effectively. And if we are unable to communicate in a way that is understood by both our employees and our customers, our businesses will not expand.”
Owner Harding is aware of the challenges this approach can present. Although we can think we are in charge and that it is our way or the highway, the truth is that you cannot force someone to do anything.
Additionally, you need to be humble and acknowledge that you aren’t always right. Harding discusses the distinction between task- and people-oriented people. Task-oriented supervisors sometimes prioritize getting the job done over building connections. Such individuals should ask themselves, “Do I want to be correct or successful?” according to his suggestion. You must inspire your staff to want to do the task if you want to succeed. People-oriented managers could be more focused on their interactions with their staff than the actual task. When this happens, they may need to reflect on whether they are attempting to succeed or win friends. Success is the ultimate objective in both situations, but it can only be attained by establishing positive, harmonious relationships with staff members or coworkers. Relationship development is crucial and cannot be emphasized enough. Most of us spend more time at work with our coworkers than with our wives, kids, or friends, as Harding points out, and if those coworker connections are poor, people will leave.
Harding is aware that many business owners may find his concept overly sentimental. When engaging with those who think these are insane concepts, he said, “I always ask, ‘If you don’t like the concepts I’m presenting, that’s great. But tell me, why should someone work for your company? Harding responds, “Every company offers a paycheck,” to the assertion made by business owners that employees receive paychecks. What’s in it for the employee to work here, other the legally mandated pay that every other business provides?
In Service Industry Success, Harding provides many helpful tips and doable strategies to improve the working environment for everyone. Exercises are provided to assist business owners in better understanding the changes they must make and how to do so. I could go on and on about the value Harding offers in these pages, but I’ll end by noting that I really liked his idea that we should consider every interaction with a worker as a contribution to or deduction from that worker’s connection with the employer and business. People require at least five positive work experiences for every negative one in order to break even since they recall the bad more than the good.
Service Industry Success is an insightful and actionable look at how to strengthen working relationships, motivate staff to like their work, and ultimately free up the owner to enjoy the benefits of a job well done.