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2.5.24 – SSI – Paul Boucherle

Don’t install a “high diving board” manager to manage the “wading pool” at your small business. If you do, I promise that you won’t like

Small business owners in the security industry understand how to protect our customers’ facilities, assets and people against critical events that would harm them.

But what about protecting your own small business’ most valued assets? Do you pay as much attention to your own business? Well, if not, you should!

High-quality talent — those who solve problems, work tirelessly, and show up and deliver with a smile and a good attitude — are unicorns. They’re also expensive to replace.

Circumstances that are outside of the average small business owner’s control include retirement, sickness or relocation for personal/family reasons. Other circumstances, however, are well within your control.

These include quality leadership (at all levels), open and effective communication, understanding of team members’ motivators/values/goals and, most important, active listening.

What if you don’t exhibit these qualities? You pay a steep price, my friend! What’s the tab? Usually it can range between $50,000 to 75,000 or more and six months’ loss of productivity! Any systems integrator owner who delivers high-quality customer service gets this observation.

Those who don’t are frankly B players, at best.

Pick Your Asset Protection Situation

If you’re a new senior leader of a company, there are typically three business scenarios that are common. Pick your situation and reflect on it.

Save the Titanic: The company that you’ve parachuted into — hopefully, with your eyes wide open — is at serious risk of sinking. Multiple business hull breaches will require dispassionate, urgent decision-making and immediate triage measures.

The delivery systems for customer service and profitability have taken torpedoes in the main hull, and they don’t have Zebra fittings (watertight doors) to contain the damage. The ship is taking on water; passengers (customers and associates) are getting into lifeboats to avoid going down with the ship. What leadership style makes sense here?

There’s only one answer: a total, full-on, Marines-style mission to save USS Your Company. It’s not pretty, and it’s heavy handed, but it’s necessary and strong. To save the ship, decision-making is not by committee; micromanagement of decisions is required.

This management style will ruffle feathers in the company culture. Survival takes priority. When revenues are low and costs are high, bring lots of body bags; there is going to be wholesale attrition. Trust me, hurt feelings will not matter much to a “my way or the highway” manager. Notice I did not say “leader.”

What can make this individual a leader is honest communication with associates, delivered in a timely manner and with confidence, to lead the company forward.

A New Growth Vision

An Approachable Leader: What about a company that is not fundamentally broken from a revenue or operational standpoint but that might need a new growth vision to remain relevant, attack new opportunities and seize new incremental profit/volume margins?

In this role, you need an approachable leader who listens and appreciates the assets that he/she has been entrusted to develop. You need someone who communicates well and who paints a vision and mission with a wide palette of colors…someone who can talk to all employees concisely but with passion, candor and sincerity.

Leaders who put this into practice will have a “good to great” company story to tell! Employees flourish; team members contribute in new ways; and management attracts new A players to join the team. Attrition is virtually nonexistent, except for those who reluctantly retire.

Management Mismatch: Now, what if you have a company scenario like “B” but with a new company manager like “A”? Well, in my opinion/experience, a few things are going to happen:
1. The costs of talent attrition will be staggering, even though new management will often downplay them. “Hey…the cost of doing business!” Blah blah blah.
2. Company and employee morale will be terrible, as team members will be ruled by fear and kept in the dark until they get a rude surprise.
3. The customers and channels you serve will know something is not right with your culture, and they might start looking for alternatives. Taking a hit to your company brand is quite expensive.

In today’s security industry, the top talent pool is shallow. So, don’t install a high diving board manager to manage a wading pool; you won’t like the results.