We see a rise in entrepreneurship and organizations starting up with new ideas and dreams. They seek to challenge the traditional ways of doing business and establish a new order. We might not know each one of them as much as we know Uber, Ola, Amazon, Linkedin and so on. However, the fact remains that each one of them is ambitious and fighting the Goliaths in a sector of the economy.
While David wants to battle Goliath, he needs an army comprising top talent who are capable of working in an unstructured environment and love charting their own course. In the quest of such top-graders, David inherits people who are ambitious, hungry and driven towards creating a mark for themselves. One can debate if it is a great strategy to have too many of such dreamers and entrepreneurial minds at work. But it is beyond doubt that David has a task at hand to be able to keep its flock together.
One of the most common demands before David is to give handsome raises to his employees. Some of them ask for it too soon! David needs each one of them. He does not want to be seen as someone who couldn’t retain smart people. Neither does he want to be seen as unfair and arbitrary amongst his staff. He wants to maintain equity and fairness of pay and other rewards based on the internal parity and market standards. Thirdly, the young company is typically bootstrapped in many ways and does not have a big bag of money to splurge, though there are a few exceptions who are spoiled brats, thanks to some investors. Last but not the least, Goliath can lure this top-class talent and destabilise David’s plans. What does David do to keep his team members interested, productive and happy?
Let them know the priority and ask of the right thing to meet this priority!
Firstly, the leaders in the company have to be consistent in driving a set of behaviours. Everyone must understand what the top priority is and what the person can do towards fulfilling it. For example, everyone in Southwest Airlines understood that their company makes money if their plane was in the sky. And each person knew what he or she could do to ensure that the plane left the ground quickly. They knew what to do when there was a problem and they kept improving their work processes to ensure that the right behaviours could be lived every time. It is important that David’s troops know what the right behaviours are for them so that they win over the Goliath and it is upto David to ensure that the environment is right for his troop to demonstrate the right behaviours. This helps David’s men align their expectations and moderate their demands.
Communicate openly so that everyone knows what is happening!
Many a times, the leaders do not let bad news reach their troops. Some leaders believe that the troops should just stay focused on the big goal and need not get distracted by knowing of small wins here and there. These are extreme behaviours and might not work very well. The men in the trenches need to know that there is bright light at the end of the tunnel and minor skirmishes on the way are fine. It is important that the leader has frequent dialogue one on one as well as a group about the possibilities. It helps to articulate them well and create a visual roadmap of growth and development before them. It is not very easy for each leader to be able to visualise creatively and articulate them meaningfully. However, this helps! Coupled with this envisioning, one should be honest in delivering the bad news as and when they happen and simultaneously lift them up to dream about a bright future.
This is about the nuts and bolts of execution. Creating the vision and motivating them to keep at the goal is not enough. David has to get into its mechanics and set milestones on the way so that the troops know that they will need to reach specific goals before they ask for a raise or a promotion. Many leaders do not find it easy to define these goals in advance, especially when it is about skills and knowledge. David has to learn these skills and deploy them at work.
David won over Goliath by leveraging on his strengths. In our lives, we play with a team and hence, David has to make sure that his men know the priorities and the desired behaviours. Further, he has to be honest with his troop in outlining the roadmap to success, critically review who lacks where and define the goals to gun for along the way. This sounds simple enough, but calls for practice and determination to topple the giant.