Perceptions of Business Growth – What is REALLY happening?
by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions
Is your business growing or not? Do you share the same view as your staff, your manager or your leaders? How do you know if you do? This article highlights the differences that exist, examines why they exist, and suggests ways to create a common understanding of the business’ growth potential and opportunity.
A recent Australian study by Leadership Management Australia (June 2012) of over 2000 participants including Leaders, Managers and Non-Managerial Employees highlighted a major problem and disconnect facing business. The perception as to whether their businesses were growing or not.
The Non-Managerial Employees firmly believed that their businesses were growing (71%) whereas Leaders and Managers have a considerably different outlook – with the belief that growth is declining. Only 47% of Leaders perceived their businesses as growing and 45% of Managers. So what does this mean for business in dealing with the future?
An individual’s perception of a situation is their reality, no matter what you think. It is how they ascribe meaning to a situation and is based on their beliefs, feelings, ideas and experience. As such we are looking at how to overcome a clear difference of opinion and belief. Failure to do so can cause major problems between these groups.
So what can we do?
Firstly, the differences may be due to the time-scale that the respective groups look at the work of the business – employees focusing more on the immediate and short-term, managers for the mid- and short-term, and leaders for the mid- and long-term. The longer the time-scale that you are working to the greater the level of uncertainty that you need to incorporate into your forecasts and plans. We need to understand this.
Uncertainty comes from a variety of sources. Externally to Australia there is growing uncertainty in relation to economic, environmental and even political conditions in a number of countries, whose ripples are being felt on Australia’s shores. Within Australia there are internal uncertainties including the carbon tax and the mining tax which is exacerbated by a government suffering in the polls.
Secondly, employees need to understand the perspective of managers and leaders. To do this the leaders and managers need to clearly and consistently communicate what the issues, opportunities and risks are and in doing so create trust.
Trust creates high-performing organisations (HPOs) and helps the business to achieve high revenues, profits and market share than low-performing organisations where trust is low. These HPOs are also more effective at accomplishing their goals in critical areas including customer loyalty and retention; achieving predictable results; business agility and practicing innovation and creativity.
Thirdly, the business needs to actively engage employees in coping and dealing with these changes and engendering trust. Key to this is establishing clear priorities and being able to cascade them to people so that they are meaningful, relevant and measurable; and building these priorities into their work creates alignment, traction and results.
To enable the business to grow requires more than leadership and good management. It requires good communication, developing trust across and throughout the business, and the establishment of a commonly shared and understood perception of the business and its future growth. Creating this enables the business, holistically and at all levels, to engage proactively and develop opportunities and options for business growth.
Do you know how perceptions vary across your business and why? What perception do you want to create for your business and how will you do it? Share your ideas, experiences and examples of what has worked and what has not – ask your questions and let’s see what answers we can come up with.
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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.