Profits have dipped, productivity has slowed, and your business has felt like it’s been on a roller coaster for years. Sure, maybe it’s the economy. Or those conditions could be clues that your organization is lacking the right kind of leadership. Here are some signs that you need to change your style or improve your management skills:
1. Your talent departs. Your worst employees don’t leave when the work environment is not right; your best employees do. If your voluntary turnover of average or above-average talent is higher than that of your competitors, then you’ve got a leadership issue.
2. You’re not growing profitably.Your job as the business’s leader is to ensure that your business gets a return for growing and taking on more risk. If you’re experiencing growth that’s not profitable, then you are making some incorrect choices. You’re not doing things that you should be for profitable growth to occur.
3. Productivity is flat or declining.People don’t give their best effort to a job when the leadership is poor. They’re compliant but not committed. They just go through the motions. That behavior contributes to reduced productivity, as well as to flat or declining customer satisfaction.
4. Employees are dissatisfied or demoralized.When employees who were once committed become merely compliant, it’s a sign they’ve become unsatisfied with what’s going on in the company. That’s a leadership problem. Say you have a 50-person company that has grown steadily from $5 million to $10 million in sales over the last 5 years. Everybody has been rewarded in some fashion for the success: Management jobs have been created, pay has increased, and the 50 people in the organization all know each other.
Now, what if that same company expands from 50 employees to 100 without growing profits? Everybody’s working harder, and employees don’t feel like they’re all in it together anymore. The company has doubled in size, but it’s not making more money, and morale is suffering. People say, “This isn’t the company I hired in with. This isn’t as much fun. I wish we could go back to the good old days.” That’s a leadership issue.
5. Your bench is weak or empty.Well-led companies groom their employees for growth. If a business is not doing a good job developing its own internal talent, then when a new manager is needed, even those inside the organization who might have raised their hands to be considered aren’t qualified. The consequence is that you must hire from outside the organization. If you’re not promoting your own people to fill those managerial roles, eventually that’s going to cost you.
6. Year-over-year results are inconsistent.One year your business grows by 18 percent, the next year it declines 3 percent, the following year it’s up 12 percent, and then it’s down 2 percent. That jumping around means that the leader might not be making the tough decisions that help the business to be more consistent. Maybe you’re taking too many risks; maybe you’re not taking enough. A roller coaster ride is exhilarating if you know there’s an end to it. But being on one indefinitely is exhausting.