At most organizations, there’s a management team that decides when to stroke a check. How do you convince managers to spend money on business speakers or consulting?
An approach we have found effective in our consulting practice is to approach management with a conversation about results. An organization’s outcomes should provide value to stakeholders. Creating deliverables that align with company culture and market expectations is of paramount importance. Results are often what matter most to owners and decision makers.
That is the purpose of hiring a speaker or a business consultant to help your company: change behavior so you can change outcomes. But often, we don’t have direct access to high-level decision makers in the sales process. In fact, working with management is one of the classic mistakes.
If results are what matter to management, everyday experiences are what matter to front line employees. That’s why we need to turn the conversation away from typical conventions, such as restrictive policies, incentives, reduction of theft/fraud, security and limitation of liability. We can focus on what creates great results: engaged employees who are willing to take risks without fear of rejection, employees who have the twin pillars of freedom and responsibility, and leadership based on mentoring and support rather than command and control.
Happiness at work is a hard problem. Happy workers are the exception, not the norm. For example, the best path is not to focus on speaking to employees about work/life balance. That can seem patronizing in an environment where they feel constantly pressured to do more with less. Rather, there’s value in speaking to owners, managers, and other stakeholders about the difference between demanding labor through control and creating value through a shared understanding of meaningful results. We don’t want to tell people what they can and cannot do. We want to have a conversation about what is and is not valuable, and why.
Business improvement requires spreading ownership throughout the organization, instead of stashing it in pockets and dictating it from the top. That’s the message we try to offer from our speakers and consultants. The only sustainable way to change is to care.