Get Off To A Winning Start

Get Off To A Winning Start

TOP Performance Consulting Ltd is now a few months old and I’ve found myself in a very fortunate situation. First, my Associate Consultant status with Lane4 means that I’ve been able to continue working with large organisations such as JP Morgan and Nationwide on some fascinating interventions.

Second, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and exhilaration of growing a business again. When I was in the process of setting up TOP Performance Consulting Ltd, and reflecting on what I had to offer the business world, it took me a while to remind myself of something I’ve taken for granted. I realised that I’ve spent so much time and focus on working with organisations on performance psychology issues that I’d forgotten that I also know a lot about setting up a business from scratch and growing it to an award-winning international organisation with 70 people.

Over the past few months I have derived particular satisfaction from passing on this experience and, crucially, the enormous learning to SMEs with similar aspirations. Here are some of the things I’ve learned are particularly important in starting and growing a business:

  • Define a clear and compelling vision which forms the foundation for all decision-making. All organisations have visions of some sort, but my experience is that they don’t work in most of them because they’re not compelling and therefore don’t drive day-to-day values and behaviours.
  • Get the right people around you. That clear and compelling vision will ensure you are clear about who you need around you. One ‘bad egg’ in a small organisation can have a big impact.
  • Recruit people who are very good at what they do but with different views to your own and who are willing to challenge. This means that you as the leader will need to invite and accept challenge.
  • Understand and accommodate the motivations of the people around you. Recognise who wants the security of a job and those who want a piece of your business. Talk to them about their aspirations so that there are no ‘surprises’ along the way.
  • Ensure transparency at all times. As you grow, this will become more difficult as the more politically-skilled amongst your people use your success to their advantage. Nevertheless, try your best to be as open as possible with your people.
  • Accept that as a leader someone will always be unhappy with your leadership. If everyone in your organisation is happy with your leadership then there is probably something wrong.
  • Establish processes at the very start. You’ll need them as you grow so put them in place as soon as possible.

All of these things are common sense, but not necessarily common practice. Get them right and you’ll be off to a great start!

Finally, I’m delighted to announce the posting of my second guest blog next week. The author is Professor Costas Markides who is an expert on organisational change based at London Business School.

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