The Australian Small Business Blog

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Business Systems- When the Cat’s Away

What Happens When the Cat is Away in Your Business?

When the cat’s away, we all know what the mice do, but what do your staff do when you’re away? If yours is like most businesses, not a lot. Generally, they just go through the motions.

Why do the mice play when the cat is away? It is because there are no order or control systems in the barn if the cat is having a nap. The cat is the system. In its absence, the mice make their own rules and look after themselves. They pursue their own goals. While it might look like anarchy, there is still an element of self preservation. They would, for example, be careful not to disturb the cat’s slumber. When the cat awoke, they would return to their normal routine with the cat in control as if nothing had happened while it was asleep.

Does this sound like your business?

A client of mine who ran a membership business found after returning from a four week overseas holiday, not a single new sale was made. Sure the existing clients were looked after, but her staff actually claimed that there were no new enquiries during her absence, in spite of the fact that she had prominent advertising which generated a constant stream of leads, both before she left, and after she returned.

Sound familiar?

Like the cat, she was the system. When she was absent, none of her staff thought to disturb her on vacation to say they weren’t making any sales. Whenever she made contact from the other side of the world, she was assured that everything was fine. And of course things were fine. Her staff were having a holiday too!

At this point she realised that she was never going to have a business that ran without her without developing a Business Management System. Which included a robust sales pipeline.

Her staff were provided an Operations Manual with a complete documentation of her business systems along with reporting and performance measurement systems.

Her final step was to ensure that her staff were fully trained in the operation of these systems and were appraised on the basis of objective performance standards with appropriate rewards for excellence.

Now when the cat’s away, the cat can play!

May Your Business Be - As You Plan It.

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.
Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success.

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Michael Griffiths said...

The ability to lead successfully in small to medium business is always going to be a challenge. I feel the culture of Australian Society to get what they can when they can and otherwise take it as easy as possible is a real concern and hence staff that only do what they have to. A business owner that has good systems in place as well as rewards for staff who achieve allows for greater growth.

Maxell Consulting | Ana said...

It is said that No man is an island. I particularly apply this principle to my fellow workers and partners. I see that I cannot do everything - so I need the respect and support of my team. I lead by example and never forget to manage my team wisely. It would be a good environment and a good working relationship if all of the team members feel they are one in steering the boat. I always encourage my team to do better most of the time and make them understand that when a business fails, we all fail.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, one of the inherent problems with small business is the size. When many people all report to the one person, it is natural for those people to ‘slack off’ when their boss leaves. Even if you nail them down with procedures and systems, this can still occur. From my experience, it is easier to run a small business where you can appoint at least some managers to delegate responsibility to rather than have every one report to the one person. When you go, the managers are still there, seeing that staff performs. If one of the managers goes on leave, you can take their place. In other words, ‘very small’ businesses (1 to 10 people generally) can be harder to run than ‘medium small’ business (10 or more people). Procedures are very important but they can’t change things inherent to ‘smallness’.


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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
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