The great buy-in Featured

11:53am EDT March 11, 2004
If you are a business owner, your company is your baby. And, like any parent, you feel frustrated when people don't treat your beloved with the same care you do.

Whether you run a service, manufacturing or retailing business, the way you address problems and opportunities is never how your employees do. Their commitment, urgency and results fall short of yours, and this can frustrate you.

So, how can you get your employees to act like the owners they will never be? Here are five ways to foster an entrepreneurial spirit throughout your organization.

* Correct errors of commission; punish errors of omission. As much as it hurts to watch your employees screw up, at least they did something. Nothing is worse than hearing an employee say, "Well, you didn't tell me I should do that."

If owners have a problem educating personnel, they have a bigger one instilling common sense and responsibility. Don't punish someone who reacted and tried. Punish the one who stood by and did nothing.

* Don't be a control freak with ADD. If entrepreneurs had to take psychological tests, odds are more than a few would learn they are control freaks with ADD. If your people are giving up rather than following up, ask yourself, "Am I the problem?"

If the old expression, "Let God; let go," resonates for you, practice what you preach. If you always step in and nothing still happens, then step out and see if it helps.

* Reward actions and efforts beyond results. Many employees start off the job caring but give up when their actions don't produce company results or personal rewards. If one of your employees feels passionately about taking an action that failed, take a hard look at why. Perhaps he feels he has lost the battle in a war you know is winnable.

* Support champions, long shots and rebels. One of my favorite expressions is, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." If your company has succeeded enough to require change from within, recognize and reward those who can drive it.

* Identify and reward those doing right. Too often, the people most able to stop loss, prevent waste and report theft don't because they don't think you care if they care. Walk your own talk and recognize those who did right without being told.

Nothing serves as a good example more effectively than a good example next door. Andrew Birol is President of Birol Growth Consulting, a Solon-based firm that helps grow businesses by growing their best and highest uses. Reach him at (440) 349-1970 or at