You’re passionate, you care, you get it, you think about your business day and night, but let’s face it, you’ve got a big vision for that business and you probably can’t realize that vision all by yourself.
Your passion and commitment are essential, but it’s your ability to build passion and commitment for that vision in others that is going to be the key to growth.
You need committed and connected staff members. You need committed and loyal customers. You need to create a commitment factory.
Now I understand that the idea of the traditional factory, the kind that once manufactured goods and became a symbol of the industrial age, comes with some negative connotation.
A commitment factory, however, is my idea for the new model of business. A business that manufactures ideas, brilliance, passion and commitment in a community that chooses to join what might be more apply described as a cause.
Generating commitment is the new currency of American business and the most important task of a leader of a business defined in this manner is to guide passion and purpose in a way that encourages staff and customers alike to find, nurture and grow commitment around the things big and small that make a business something worth joining.
A loyal, committed, paying customer is the ultimate expression of a commitment factory.
Below are a handful practices to consider in the creation of a commitment factory.
Get the right people
Hire for fit is a common bit of advice, but fit means many things. What you need are people who want to excel at the exact work you need them to do. You need people who ask why you want them to do something instead of just how.
You’ll eventually need people that foster purpose, people that invent projects and people that operate process – these are rarely the same people.
Tell the story over and over
One of the acts involved in getting the right people is telling a story about why you do what you do in a way that attracts the people you need.
When you connect why with how in the form of a story you allow people to find their place in the story and that’s where commitment starts.
Protect the standards
People need to understand how to tell the story in a simple and consistent manner and the symbols, words and phrases that position the story in the mind of the customer need to be fostered and protected.
Little things like color and typography use need to be defined and reinforced. How you speak about your customers sets the tone for how they will be treated by all. How you treat your staff is precisely how they will treat your customers.
These are standards that you need to create, enforce and leave no room for deviation
Make meetings about action
Meetings are where people go to get the life sapped out of them, but it certainly doesn’t have to be that way. Most people make meetings about trying to decide what to do when they should be about taking action on what’s been decided.
If you run your meetings that way, then they will be full of life. Then you can install real brainstorming sessions as a way to spark big ideas, refine innovation and plug gaps in processes.
Teach and share the metrics
In order to get everyone on the same page they need to be looking at the same page. Your factory needs to know what’s important to measure, the key indicators of success, and you need to teach everyone in the business what those key metrics are and what they mean.
This may mean teaching basic accounting measurements to everyone, holding all hands quarterly marketing message training and connecting little things, like customer support high fives, to big things like profit.
Creating a system of bonuses tied to key metrics, such as finding ways to reduce costs or convert and retain customers, is how you turn attention on the right things into a game worth playing.
Invest in the best tools
People perform better with the right tools. Combine the best tools with a clear understanding of how to win and you’ve got a potent combination.
Invest in the best technology you can afford. Invest in chairs, fitness equipment, water, coffee, apps and music – things some would suggest you could live without, things that help your people stoke their passion and commitment for the work they need to do.
Building a business, even a small, virtual business is more about building a spirit of commitment around a single minded purpose than it is about building walls and doors and windows – it’s the model for the new factory and it’s the future of business that works.