By Dan Sullivan, founder and president, Strategic Coach
At a certain point, it becomes impossible to grow as an entrepreneur unless you have a team that’s actively and effectively supporting you and your goals. Yet one of the biggest challenges for many entrepreneurs is getting the right team in place.
Entrepreneurs often feel misunderstood by their teams, and this is for good reason. There are some fundamental differences between how business owners and employees typically see the world. Understanding these differences can help you break through frustration and become more successful. One of the most fundamental differences stems from a decision you made, most likely unconsciously, when you decided to become an entrepreneur in the first place.
This decision was that, on a basic level, you would not expect rewards from the marketplace until you had first created value for others. A direct relationship with the marketplace, in which you get paid to the degree that clients or customers value your product or service enough to pay for it, regardless of the time and effort you put in, keeps you honest. If you don’t generate results, there’s no income. It’s that simple. This “No-Entitlement Attitude” keeps you positively focused on how to increase the size and quality of your contribution to the well-being of your clientele.
However, the No-Entitlement attitude is not a given for those who are not entrepreneurs, including your employees. In fact, most of us are brought up surrounded by attitudes and examples that promote entitlement, and it’s easy to subconsciously adopt the sense that one does deserve rewards simply for showing up, or for putting in an effort regardless of the results that effort produces, and to place the blame on others if these rewards fail to materialise.
As an example, François Hollande’s victory in the recent French Presidential elections and the Labour Party’s gains in the UK’s local government elections this May have been linked to people turning their backs on the French and British governments’ respective austerity measures, which have dominated policy-making since the onslaught of the world economic crisis.
However, whilst vast swathes of the public recognise that not all the problems facing society, from crime to unemployment, are solvable by government programmes and greater job opportunities, there are people who remain trapped within a closed universe of dependency, disappointment and grievance, believing that we live in a bureaucratic Entitlement Society where they are, for reasons beyond their control, being deprived of what they are rightfully owed.
And whilst this mindset is endemic in the world, it is incredibly unhealthy for your business. If nothing else, it is tremedously anti-entrepreneurial. Those who think this way — regardless of their talents and the possibilities for progress that exist around them — will typically view themselves as permanent victims, and as a result remain hamstrung by constant feelings of resentment and unhappiness. In contrast, a No-Entitlement Attitude helps to create a positive outlook and a constant desire to contribute in new ways — absolutely essential to the creativity that drives entrepreneurial success.
The most successful employees in any entrepreneurial company in the long run will be those who actively create opportunities for themselves, rather than waiting for somebody else to do it for them. When they take this initiative, they experience a world full of opportunity and growth potential where their own ingenuity is the driving force.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your employees and your business is to help ensure that every person working for you understands that all rewards, including their sense of freedom and control over their own future success, depend on first creating value for others -- as individuals, for their team and as a company, for your clients — that this is the essence of the entrepreneurial game you are all playing. There are a myriad ways to make such contributions depending on the individual’s perspective, passions, and talents, but it all begins by having the right outlook. The more you can create a culture of non-entitlement in your business, by hiring people who already exhibit this mindset and by helping those who don’t to shift their attitude or move on to other opportunities, the more entrepreneurial, innovative, agile and resilient you will be as a company as a whole.
There is an aspect of momentum to this. I often say that creators don’t complain and complainers don’t create. Employees who direct their creative energy and talent towards helping the company reach its goals, trusting that they will be appropriately rewarded for doing so, will have little time or patience for entitlement, either in themselves or in their co-workers. No one wants to be the one working hard to create positive change and see the person next to them just sitting there, reluctantly putting in the hours to collect a paycheque.
On the other hand, misery loves company. You can sway the tide one way or the other by the expectations you set and the behaviours you choose to tolerate, encourage and reward. To the degree that your employees are not entrepreneurs being directly rewarded (or reprimanded) by the marketplace, they may need your leadership to become conscious of what it means to have a No-Entitlement Attitude. The more you can reward them for the quality and quantity of results they produce for the business, the more entrepreneurial their behaviour and thinking will naturally become.
When your employees recognise that the value they create flows back to them in the form of greater rewards, satisfaction, and continued opportunities for future growth they will become more focused on the contributions they make to the business and their own personal development. A culture of non-entitlement increases morale, productivity, and creativity, and ultimately leads to your team members adopting a greater sense of ownership and responsibility for the performance of the business.
Here are five proven strategies you can employ to build and strengthen the No-Entitlement Attitude in your own company’s culture:
1. Encourage your employees to be creative and look for ways to make greater contributions, with the understanding that this is how they will grow their future opportunities and compensation. When they succeed, be sure to follow through by rewarding and acknowledging them.
2. Share your goals and vision for your company’s growth with your team so they know how to direct their efforts and what contributions will be most useful.
3. Reward employees for producing results and tie their compensation directly to results wherever possible.
4. Praise and acknowledge those who go above and beyond the call of duty and create extraordinary value for other team members and your clientele.
Have zero-tolerance for entitlement.
5. Discuss the No-Entlement Attitude with your team and let them know that this is what is necessary for success in your company and for your company to be successful in the marketplace. Set it as a standard for appropriate behaviour and look for it in new hires.
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