This June will mark the 10-year anniversary of the sale of a wireless construction company that I built with the help of two business partners. In the nine years that we ran the business and the 10 years that have followed, I have learned so many business lessons and nearly all of them have to do with people – whether it’s relationships, communication, how and who I hired, or the manner in which I had taken action.
If you’re open to accepting the notion that “All business problems are people problems,” it can be very liberating to know that it could be that simple of a diagnosis. And at the same time, it can be so perplexing because it turns out that solving people problems has often been thought of being very challenging, to say the least. What if I told you there was at least a way of increasing your odds at solving the people puzzle?
Now let’s set the stage for how we can be thinking about some of these business problems that are really people problems – especially if you’re leading or operating a business in what I will call the “LightBlue Marketplace.” The LightBlue Marketplace is a term I coined a number of years ago that simply refers to the notion that any business that used to be referred as “blue collar” (i.e. Construction, Trades, Manufacturing, Logistics, Industrial) must now pay careful attention to business concepts that were once reserved for “white collar” businesses (i.e. Banking/Finance, Software/Technology, E-Commerce, Telecom).
Some of these business concepts that have become mainstream in the LightBlue Marketplace include things like:
Manager and Leadership Development
Diversity & Inclusion
Data / Analytics (specifically around People)
Financial Metrics (Turnover/Retention, Cost of New Hire, Time to Hire)
I share these concepts as a way of revealing how business has evolved in this market and to say that if you’re not paying attention to any combination – or even all of them – you’re going to be falling behind. What I mean is that the days of “hiring more people to go do what we do as a way of increasing revenue” is not a business strategy. Or how about, “let’s pay our employees generous referral bonuses because they know what’s best for our company and wouldn’t bring in someone they wouldn’t want to work with.” Or one of my favorites… “let’s promote our most talented producer at X job into a management position. He or she has been loyal and can certainly teach everyone else how to be just as awesome as they are.” Or how about a few more relevant ones… “I just can’t seem to get Bob or Sally to be comfortable with the new way that we are doing things now,” or “How do we know who really wants to work remotely and how do we get the most out of our remote workforce?? And my favorite of all time… “We just can’t seem to find good people!”
If none of these resonate with you, then congratulations, you are running a well-oiled machine and should probably start teaching classes on how to build a successful business in the LightBlue Marketplace. But if they resonate with you and you still struggle, I have some thoughts to share.
First, business owners and/or senior leaders who are committed to investing in an area of learning around developing self-awareness will make huge impact on their organization. What I mean is that leaders who understand what naturally motivates or drives them, or where they may have blind spots, will absolutely outperform those who do not.
Second, what if you could develop that self-awareness for mid-level managers and top performers to begin to develop the foundation of a people formula. What would it be like if you knew exactly who was on your leadership team – meaning what if you knew exactly what players you had on your sports team and whether or not they were the right ones for the position? What if they knew what position you really wanted them to play and what skills each team member needed to make the best possible team?
Lastly, great leaders, great teammates must be aligned to the game being played. If Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Lionel Messi, and Mariano Rivera were all on the same team, would they win the game? This is all about aligning business strategy with an effective talent strategy. How do we take a look at the work that needs to be done – whether it’s strategic or tactical in nature – and know if we have the right team for the job?
I share these three thoughts as a way of giving you the framework to think about how to solve the everyday challenges that face your business. There is technology, there are thought leaders, there are resources available to help you build this framework that is customized for your business. It’s a framework that I wish I had 10 years ago. It’s possible that I may not have sold my business; or perhaps I would have sold my business for a greater multiple. I am certain that I would have had a greater pathway for success at the company that bought my business. And who knows, it may have even prevented me from investing in an industry and in a role where I had really had no chance of being successful. Wherever you are in your career or business lifecycle, I am always available to lend an ear! Best of luck with starting fresh in 2021.
About the Author – Mike Mosel, Co-Founder of PeopleSurge, and certified talent optimization consultant, is passionate about advising businesses in industries like construction, hospitality, manufacturing, and general contracting whose growth opportunities are specifically related to people. He brings nearly 20 years of hands-on CEO experience, having owned, operated, and exited a number of businesses in those marketplaces. As a graduate of George Mason University, Mike has continued his learning by participating in CEO/business owner peer groups and leadership development programs and is active in his local business community through the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. He’s been playing golf since age 6, enjoys craft beer, and working out at his local CrossFit gym. He is happily married to his wife of 15 years, has 2 daughters ages 11 and 14 and lives in Mt. Pleasant, SC.