Who broke my magic wand?


Who broke my magic wand? Remember when you started your company? You were small, agile, and excited. You had a small staff that understood and believed in your mission, vision, mandate, and goals as you did. You communicated, listened to each other and solved problems as a team.

Then you grew. 

Departments became divisions, and suddenly, you had teams reporting from foreign countries and multiple time zones.

The original people you hired, you promoted. You gave them more responsibility and hopefully provided them with training to move them from being doers of things to leaders of people . . . but probably not.

Hiring came fast and furious, often done out of necessity and not with an overall plan.

Systems and processes that worked for you as a smaller team were now either being held together with duct tape or completely dysfunctional.

Most of the people in the company today you have never met personally, and they could not tell the company’s origin story when pressed to do so.

Projects have become larger and more complex, needing better coordination and cooperation, but these things seem to fall between the cracks for some reason.

So, you ask yourself, who broke my magic wand?

How did I get from being a small, profitable, and manageable company to where I am today?

The answers will be as diverse and complex as the organisations themselves. However, there are several overarching factors that any company needs to look at to see how they can get from where they are today to where they wish to be.

The first is leadership. Is your leadership trained, capable and vision-focused? Do they understand the mandates, what is trying to be achieved and why, and do they have the skill set to lead others towards success?

Do they have the ability to communicate so that those they lead listen? Are they enabling teams to understand objectives, why they are important, and allowing them to internalise the information and recall and retell it to others?

Do they inspire, and do they enable others to aspire to greatness? Great companies have purpose and vision, and leadership at all levels must allow others to paint detailed pictures of what good looks like and what greatness is or should be.

Can your leaders articulate and understand what happens when goals are not met and the ramifications of not achieving them? It is not enough for people to aspire to greatness; they need to be clear of the pitfalls and why it is essential to avoid them.

Do your leaders listen? Are they willing to understand that their job is not to know everything and that there is wisdom in the collective? Do they realise that great ideas can come from anyone, and concerns voiced are not just people being negative out of spite but because they care about outcomes?

Have your leaders set their teams up for success? Do they provide them with training, coaching and opportunities to grow and succeed? The world around us is continually evolving, and if we do not train our people in new techniques, ideas, and concepts, they will stagnate or look toward other companies that will enable them to grow.

Do your leaders create a sense of joint purpose from day one? Onboarding new employees is one of the company’s most misunderstood and poorly executed activities. Onboarding is not about filing paperwork or setting people up with a desk, computer, or phone. It is about enabling them to feel like they belong to the company. It is about giving them a sense of purpose from day one and allowing them to understand the company’s history, where you are, where you want to go and why. It is about enabling them to know what you do, why you do it, who you do it for and how you help them succeed. When we invest in our people from day one, we tend to create more loyal, engaged and purpose-driven employees who want to achieve success for themselves and the organisation.

Do your leaders set up clear expectations and accountability for all? Does everyone, including them, know what is expected from them, why, and when? Do they understand what the ramifications are of performing and not performing?

There is a pattern here. It all comes down to effective communication, which is never a one-and-done thing. Different people listen, internalise, and understand differently. What may seem obvious to you may be utterly foreign to someone else. So, the best advice I can give any leader is to communicate and verify. 

  • Make sure that what you say is not only heard but understood.
  • Make sure that people understand not only the purpose but the ramifications.
  • Make sure that people can communicate with others in a way that the new people will understand and embrace.

None of this is easy, and none of this will come without trial and error. However, I can guarantee that if time, effort, and capital are not invested into communication, organizations will quickly become commoditised, be perceived as one of many, lose value, and eventually close due to lack of profitability.

Now is the time to repair that wand or invest in a new one.

Editor Footnote

Ben is one of a select few, who have been chosen to become a Featured Columnist for The Maverick Paradox Magazine. You can read all his articles by clicking below.