Next January, Genesis HR Solutions will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Any owner that has a business that has survived for a quarter century should count their blessings. I know I do. In 1991, I wore all the hats, but with the help of some hard working employees who were blessed with an entrepreneurial spirit, we were able to bootstrap the company in the midst of a recession. And yes, the Genesis of 1991 had no internet or computer networks to work with. Interestingly, a company that might have begun operations 25 years before that (1966) would have had pretty much the same tools to work with, excepting perhaps the stand-alone computer. It is no secret that the technological and societal changes of the last 25 years have been so tremendous that comparing them to the changes in the quarter century that preceded it would be…well, there is no comparison.
Businesses thrive by finding and developing a market niche, but the longevity of that success is due to the ability of leadership to adapt to the ever changing landscape. This can be particularly challenging for a business owner/founder. Intuitively, I knew that for our company to grow, I had to start taking off some of the hats. Over the years, I have almost systematically removed one hat after another until today, in a practical sense, there is no hat left for me to wear.
Yes, adapting to change can be a challenge. But for an organization to grow, adapting and anticipating future changes are essential. Here I offer three strategies for a business owner who is transitioning leadership.
Surround yourself with the right people
We all heard it before – “Our people are our greatest asset”. While the statement in and of itself is of course true, there is much more to the story. Employees who are there at the beginning and help a company launch may not be the same ones who help it soar. As an owner, it is important to set standards, expectations and goals. Finding the right people for the right time in a company’s development cycle is not often easy, but it is a task that should always be front and center. Ronald Reagan once said “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” If it worked for the President of the United States, it can work for a business owner too.
The adage “if you’re not learning, you’re not growing” is important for everyone in an organization, even for an owner in transition. Today, one benefit a baby boomer business owner (like me) has is there is much to be learned from younger generations. In an era of rapid change, taking this initiative is so very important. For some, this might sound counter-intuitive. When I entered the work force, skills and knowledge were something learned from supervisors. That is no longer the case. Gen Xers are known to embrace social diversity and work toward systematic change. Millennials (a.k.a. Gen Y) seek an innovative work environment and want to make a difference. Learn from them. Learn from them all, because before you know it, those from Generation Z will be knocking at the door.
Teach what you know
In our company, every team member has a number of skill sets. For the most part, the skills they have far exceed mine. The expertise that I and others had sufficed years ago because it was a much simpler time. While that is no longer the case, there is still a role to play for an owner like me who is in transition. You can’t teach experience. That is something that is learned over many years, and sharing the fruits of those efforts can help provide a cornerstone for those who lead and grow the company today.
Yes, the changes of the last 25 years have been remarkable, but they will likely pale in comparison to those that our company will see in the next quarter century. A good piece of advice comes from the author William Arthur Ward – “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
For more advice on adapting to organizational change, please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at AskUs@genesishrsolutions.com or 800-367-8367.
Genesis HR Solutions is the premier PEO provider for Massachusetts based businesses.