When a person or group starts a business, the typical mindset is one of meeting a need, answering a question, or solving a problem for a client, a patient, a member, a customer, etc. While the essence of every business is to meet needs and solve problems, there are other, critical elements that have nothing to do with the product or service the business offers but can lead to its eventual success or failure. The crux of all business rests on one thing…relationships. It’s relationships between employees, employees and employers, employers and vendors, employers and governmental agencies, and countless more. While the customer never sees or experiences these relationships, without them, there is NO BUSINESS!
In order to forge successful relationships, people and businesses need two things:
- An understanding of the relationship
- A structure for the relationship
Depending on the type of business, there can be 10, or even 20 different types of relationships to navigate. Each one has its own dynamics, its own “rhythm”. By understanding each relationship, what its purpose is within the business, and how to meet or exceed the expectations of that relationship, the business owner has the opportunity to control the outcome not only within that relationship, but within the business itself.
For example, in relationships between employees and the company, having each person know the vision of the company, the standards and expectations of their position, what to do if there is an issue of conflict between employees, how much time they have off, how to ask for time off and a hundred other things all come into play. When these items are all clearly known by each member of the team (employee), they can function in what is known as Full Awareness. This means that employees have clear expectations of how to function within the company, and that they can count on the standards being consistent between employees as well as consistent over time. This then gives every member of the team the security THEY ALL WANT and allows them to serve the customer/client/member/patient etc. with little to no friction. At the end of the day, happy team members lead to happy end users (consumers) and a better business.
To illustrate this in the OPPOSITE direction, I’m sure all of us can think of a business we’ve visited or worked in where there was CLEAR dysfunction between team members or between the team and ownership/management. These types of work environments are toxic to everyone involved, and when customers sense it, they (we) tend to do business somewhere else.
Regardless of the relationship between the business and the people within it, to be most successful, there must be a structure in place that guides the actions and behaviors of the parties within that relationship. There are 3 keys to creating a solid structure for every relationship within the business:
- Have it in writing!
- Communicate the policy/system to all involved parties
- Be sure the policy/system is reviewed by all involved parties at the appropriate time intervals
In our example above, the structure for navigating the Employee/Company relationship would come through a thoughtfully written Employee Manual. This document is something most businesses fail to appreciate (if they have one at all). The Employee Manual is THE cornerstone for consistent actions by everyone working in the business. It guides every member of the team on how to help the business meet its vision while allowing team members the freedom to act autonomously WITHIN a framework…it’s BEAUTIFUL!
Companies who have and use Employee Manuals effectively rarely have issues of conflict that go unchecked because the systems in large part prevent issues from developing that lead to conflict and, in the unusual situation where people and systems clash, there is a process for handling the challenge in a way that makes the parties feel heard and respected.
While only one relationship has been mentioned here, there are up to 20 more than need to be understood and given structure to. At Ramos Law, we specialize in analyzing every business we work with to evaluate their understanding of their key relationships as well as the structure they have in place to assure successful navigation within that relationship. Many times, it’s the relationships businesses are NOT aware of that can have the biggest impact on a company, either positively or negatively. To learn more about Ramos Law and our commitment to be THE Partner of Small Business, call 303-733-6353 today for your complimentary Business Wellness Checkup.