Roles: What Exactly Am I Doing Here?

Roles: What Exactly Am I Doing Here?

The Transition from Generalizing to Specializing


You know how that goes, right? As an entrepreneur, you started out being everything to every part of your business and maybe you are still in that situation. Depending upon the nature of your business, it is next to impossible to define roles in the start up years; there are a lot of roles needing to be filled, but not enough work in each of them to create a steady job. If this continues into the growth years, it is a recipe for malfunction.

Perhaps you were fortunate to hire an entrepreneur in employee clothing who could troubleshoot, fill many shoes, identify opportunities and who could figure out a way to get it all done. As time goes on, allowing this sense of ownership with no evolution to a clear path, that kind of employee will either burn out or leave for new opportunities, especially if new hires are also vague about how they fit in. It becomes a competition that no one can win.


You need a plan.


If you find yourself in this kind of situation, where people are stepping on each other’s toes and there is no defined sense of responsibility, it’s time to get clear on the roles within your business. The best place to start is having a chat with your start up allstars, if they happen to still be around. They were a huge part in getting your business up and running and by now they know where they want to focus. They will also have a good idea of where the newer hires will be the best fit. Having a number of people in general roles can make it difficult for you to pinpoint the areas where they can shine.

This is also a good time to make some decisions on creating some positions of responsibility. Your allstars might be perfect for taking on the responsibility for different aspects of the business, like marketing, production or office administration. Find out if they are interested before you get the whole team together and include them in the planning process.

What now? Talk it out. Have an idea jam on what the business needs and what roles need to be defined. Let the team know about the newly defined positions of responsibility and who is the go-to person for what.


What about the bruised egos?


Yes, this could get sticky, even with you. Letting go of control is a big step into trust. Everyone in your business is letting go of something in this process and that can be hard. The best way to go is to tell the simple truth – that the way things were going, it was not good for the business or for anyone in it. You are choosing to become a better leader and this is one of the steps.

Not only will you create greater clarity and respect within your team, you will gain greater clarity and respect as a leader.


If you would like to explore the personal motivators and drivers of you and your team, and how this knowledge helps make your workplace work, be sure to get on the mailing list to get notified of the launch of the Workplace That Works workshop series. (Click the link below or in the sidebar.)


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Is Your Business Purposeful or Personal?

Is Your Business Purposeful or Personal?


It’s your business, right? You own it. Of course it’s personal…but, is it really?


A Separate Entity

Starting a business is not unlike creating a work of art, writing a book or recording an album. Another analogy is having children. Whether you have a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation, once you create it, it is something outside of yourself. When you hire people, they are there to serve that separate entity, unless you have the luxury of hiring a personal assistant.


Is Money the Purpose?

People get jobs because they want to make money. Well, that’s the case for the majority of people, anyway. You most likely started your business to make a livelihood, to earn an income. The exchange of goods or services for money is a definition for a business, the result of what the business does, so placing the focus on money as a purpose is kind of redundant.

When the primary purpose is money, you end up with ‘warm bodies’ instead of engaged employees. This is old school thinking.


What is at the Core of Your Business?

This is where a tight niche statement comes in handy. Can you describe your business in a tweet (140 characters)? Why do customers come to you? What problem do you solve for them? Who are your ideal clients?

Here’s an example: “I deliver workshops to small business owners who want the tools and framework to create and maintain a productive and positive workplace.”

Clients understand what the purpose of my business is and when I hire employees, they know what purpose they are supporting. The purpose of my business is something that I am personally motivated to carry out, but I lose perspective when I take it personally. We all lose focus on what ‘we’ work on together. It becomes ‘me and ‘them’.

I want the people in my workplace to focus on and work for the best good of the purpose, not on me.


Clear Purpose = Drama Reduction

Providing a clear purpose for you and your team to focus on takes a huge load off of workplace drama. We’ve been programmed since birth to fit into the hierarchical system and can’t help but be triggered by conscious or unconscious means of control. You, as the business owner, the patriarch (regardless of gender), the alpha in the workplace, need to focus on the purpose just as much as everyone else, if not more.

There is more to come on workplace drama reduction in A Workplace That Works. Be sure to get on the email list for details. Click the link below and it will take you there.



Quiz: Workplace Assessment

Do you want a positive and productive Workplace That Works?

Take this short quiz to see where you you stand.

What is Good Leadership?

What is Good Leadership?


What does “Good Leadership” mean to you? People are starting businesses left, right and center with some incredibly conflicting concepts of how to be a leader inside the workplace. It isn’t surprising that “Good Leadership” can mean many things; I mean, our generational mishmash is unlike anything in previous times. Our role models are as varied as our opinions.

There are all kinds of leadership styles that managers/owners can employ to get what they want. You’ve witnessed, experienced or read about some of them. Naturally, you’ll be drawn to the ones that are best for everyone involved, right? Maybe you take your cues from (name your entrepreneurial icon), maybe you follow the Fortune 500 success gurus, maybe you prefer a workplace reminiscent of the nuclear family, maybe you take the “sink or swim” approach, or maybe you just want to provide a product or service and haven’t really thought about your role as a leader.


Why is it so difficult?


Let’s take a short walk through the Boomer, Gen X and Millennial years.

Boomers: This is the generation of the nuclear family, uninterrupted growth and prosperity, a manageable population and no internet to find out what everybody else was up to. People phoned, wrote letters and visited. The pace was slower. You could quit school, get a job and work your way up to corporate vice-president. Unions grew to keep big business in check. Workers had more rights than ever before. It is a generation of people knowing their place and playing the game.

Gen X: The transition generation. Civil rights, freedoms, the breakdown of the nuclear family, huge population growth rate…you could still get a job as a young adult without a degree. This generation made the internet and technology what it is today. We went from rotary phones to smart phones, writing letters to email, visiting to facebooking. It is the generation that felt the effects of growing wage inequity, skyrocketing property values and international trade agreements. “I will buck the system.” “I will make the system my own.” “The system sucks. I give up.”

Millennials: This generation grew up with no expectation of a safe, secure job that would last forever and pay out a comfortable pension. They enter the workforce with massive student loan debt because they were the first generation that actually needed a degree to get a job. Everything is changing fast and this generation grew up in the age of information. They can turn on a dime. Work-life balance and purpose behind their work is important to them. They are more likely to spend their cash on an adventure than a house.


Can you see it?


Your workforce is diverse, values equality, and has little expectation (or perhaps desire) for a life-long career in one workplace. We are in the age of individuation seeking common purpose and our happiness is on the top of the list of things to do. With globalization and AI shrinking the job pool, the best thing we can do as leaders is to lead with compassion and empower our workplace teams to become the best versions of themselves to ride the waves of uncertainty.


What is Good Leadership?


How about this…think of that cool aunt or uncle of yours who balanced responsibility with fun, or maybe someone who mentored you and helped you open your horizons. What if you could apply those qualities to your business? You can be the authority figure without being authoritative. You can be a successful leader who doesn’t know everything but is aware of everything in your workplace. You don’t have to be perfect. You can be yourself. You can be part of the team and still be respected.

Who would you like to work for?


A Workplace That Works

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