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What’s the “Real” Business Challenge?

by Trilogy Partners on Dec 04, 2018 1:59:04 PM

What holds a business back? Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see even successful companies struggle to grow. When working with Trilogy clients, challenges typically surface in the following categories:

  1. Fundamental business issues
  2. Culture of the organization
  3. Attitude towards change

Let’s explore each of these critical areas in more detail:

1. Fundamental business issues can be defined in two categories:

Growth: Strategy, Sales/Marketing and Organizational
Sustainability:
People, Financial and Processes

Examine the company and ask the following questions:

  • Is there a clear, concise written strategic plan that is aligned by all members of the team?
  • Are marketing and sales efforts being tracked, measured and getting consistent results?
  • Is there a current and future organizational chart outlining expectations, gaps and opportunities for advancement?
  • Is recruiting, training, onboarding, and compensation putting the right people in the right seats?
  • Does leadership understand what is “behind” the numbers and utilize a financial dashboard to guide decisions and increase the bottom line?
  • Are processes current and effective, making the business more competitive and more profitable.

2. The culture of the organization as measured by the following characteristics:

Foundation: Trust, Conflict, and Communications
Results:
Accountability, Courage, and Passion

Consider the following questions:

  • Is there real trust; that is, the ability to tell one another the hard truth and not be afraid to offend because of the positive intentions?
  • Is healthy conflict encouraged to get the best ideas from different point of views?
  • Is there 2-way communication that is understood at all levels of the organization with clear expectations?
  • Are all employees consistently accountable to specific measurable results?
  • Does everyone in the organization have the courage to make tough decisions and admit to mistakes?
  • Are people engaged and passionate about the company’s vision?

3. Attitude towards change

Change can be intimidating and can mean many things. When we talk about change, we focus on a willingness to embrace change, how much change can the organization handle, and what rate of change is acceptable?

What is the company’s attitude toward change? Consider the following:

  • How much change can the organization handle with its current employees, processes, technology and resources?
  • How fast can the company change emotionally, financially and organizationally?

For change to take hold, leadership must address these questions otherwise, any fundamental or cultural initiatives will fail.

So, what’s the “real” business challenge? It’s rarely ever just one thing but rather, some combination of the questions above. At Trilogy, we don’t believe that these challenges should hold a company back. Rather, addressing common issues can give a business the boost it needs. Find out how we can help; call Trilogy Partners at 609-688-0428 for a complimentary consultation.

 

 

Navigating your Family Business from Conflict to Accomplishment

by Trilogy Partners on Jul 09, 2018 9:50:47 AM

When working with family members in business with one another, something reveals itself over and over – the ties that bind also serve as stress points for potential unraveling.  With expertise in group and family dynamics, conflict management, and behavioral science, I am often asked to provide consultation and coaching to Trilogy clients with family-owned businesses who recognize that “things could be better” from both business and personal perspectives.  Does your family experience any of these issues causing conflict and misunderstanding?

  • Decisions about the future direction of the business.
  • Differences in leadership styles, practices, and core business values.
  • Permitting undesirable and potentially destructive workplace behaviors to (erroneously) maintain harmony.
  • Differences in performance and time commitment.
  • Compensation of those actively vs. passively involved in the business.
  • Fairness, equity and expectations around time off/time away from the business with maintenance of core business activities.
  • Agreement about reinvestment of profits and the payment of dividends.
  • Clarification on how family shareholders exit the business and agreement on the basis valuation of shares in the business.
  • Identifying the next generation of leadership.
  • And, quite possibly the hardest to do but most important to address: the inability to have radically candid conversations to address ‘past hurts’ and ensure communication free from anger, spite, and/or indifference.

If not addressed in a timely fashion, any of the above concerns can accelerate loss of reputation, structure, and wealth.  However, with a thoughtful and comprehensive evaluation including collective business goals and individual hopes and dreams, there are options to increase success, satisfaction, and engagement for your family.  Below, are four approaches proven to minimize conflicts and misunderstandings:

  1. Establishing formal and informal rules for family member engagement. Creation of a family council or shareholders’ group allows establishment of a set of rules based on shared values to address key ownership issues. When seeking guidance around particularly thorny issues, this formal structure is invaluable. These values are often referred to as the family constitution.  Equally important are the informal rules that speak to the ways family members want to behave with one another. These behaviors are often referred to as the family working agreement.
  2. ‘Baking-in’ the concept of fairness and the practice of conflict resolution into all family business activities. A highly emotional response by a member feeling that others are benefitting at the expense of the family business can easily create an inhospitable environment for success. Commitment to fairness assumes that family members both appreciate how perception of inequality – of time, effort, resources, etc. – can undermine progress, and, requires a method to resolve these differences. Through the adoption of conflict resolution techniques, your family will be able to deal with business matters in a fair and equitable manner.
  3. Investing in leadership and board coaching for those actively engaged in the business. Running a family business can feel like an interminable walk about a tightrope. Competition, increased product and labor costs, shifting regulatory environment, changes in technology, problem du jour, you name it…all serve as challenges, as well as, opportunities for savvy family business leaders.  Coaching, whether it is at the level of the individual, executive team, or family board, provides high level thought partnership, creative problem-solving solutions, and can re-energize your view on yourself and others in the work.
  4. Evaluating the next generation using a thoughtful and disciplined approach. As tempting as it may be to believe that your son, daughter, niece, nephew, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, is the “perfect fit” to propel forward the interests of the family business, research and experience suggests there is much more nuance in making a good decision. While experience working in the business, ideally that which is both broad and deep, is desirable, there exist several other factors that relate to successful succession. Assessment by a competent evaluator can provide deep information about interest in taking on expanded responsibilities, possession of necessary skills sets, aptitude for requirements of the role, and, prediction about long-term success.

If you would like to learn more about how you can minimize conflict to increase growth and success in your family business, please contact Trilogy Alliance Partner Marc Celentana at (609) 688-0428 or mcelentana@gettrilogypartners.com.

 

Driving Accountability in Your Business

by Trilogy Partners on May 01, 2017 12:05:56 PM

One of the most common concerns raised by business leaders is the desire to strengthen accountability in their organization.  When Trilogy Partners examines this concern with them, we often discover that each business owner has his or her own definition of accountability, and they all have very different views on what accountability looks like.  Let’s take a closer look at what the term means and the leadership behaviors you can focus on to strengthen accountability.

We define accountability as accepting responsibility; disclosing results in a transparent manner; being candid about your actions and the actions of others.  We recognize that defining the term is much easier than bringing it to life inside an organization.  The place to start is to look in the mirror.  Are you creating a team environment where accountability will flourish?

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Advantage, has defined four disciplines to help build healthy teams.  We turned these into four key questions that you should ask yourself as you examine the level of accountability in your organization.  If you can say “YES” to each, you will be driving accountability:

1. Have you built a cohesive leadership team?

To create an environment inside your company that will foster accountability, you must start at the top – by assembling a healthy leadership team.  That is, a team with a high level of trust and mutual respect, a team that lives by a set a well-defined core values and that is comfortable with healthy conflict.  A team with those qualities is passionate about addressing the truly tough issues facing the business and resolving them.  Team members believe in using data to drive their decisions, and they focus on team results more than individual accomplishments.

2. Are you creating clarity?

Have you answered these questions with your leadership team?

  • Why does our company exist?
  • How should we behave with each other, our customers and our vendors?
  • What is our core focus?
  • What does good performance look like? How will we succeed?
  • What is most important to do, right now?
  • Who must do what?

3. Are you overcommunicating clarity?

About the time you feel your answers to those questions have been well communicated, your team is just beginning to hear you.  It is essential that you define consistent answers to those questions and that you never stop asking and answering them.  In Lencioni’s words, you must be your own “Chief Reminding Officer”.

4. Are you reinforcing clarity?

You will reinforce your clear messages if you recruit, hire, orient, evaluate, compensate and reward your team members around the core values you have defined, and constantly discuss the answers to the questions listed above.

If you want to answer “YES” to these questions, contact Trilogy’s Alliance Partner Rip Tilden at rtilden@gettrilogypartners.com or at (609) 688-0428.  We have tackled the issue of accountability with many clients and as one noted, “Trilogy has helped our firm build a culture based on truth, knowledge, constructive debate, a passion to win, and the courage to face and fix mistakes.”

 

The Buck Stops Here! – Responsibility, Accountability and Deliverables

by Trilogy Partners on Oct 22, 2015 12:00:57 PM

Former President, Harry Truman put this sign on his desk in October, 1945.  President Truman was well aware of his responsibilities and accountability.  He knew that responsibility could be shared before, during and/or after a task, while accountability could not.

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The Roots to an Accountable Culture Start by Being First

by Trilogy Partners on Sep 28, 2015 2:13:46 PM

To create an accountable culture, a leader must break through the stages suggested in the following pyramid by Patrick Lencioni (Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Jossey-Bass, 2002).  A leader must be the first in an organization to face each stage by addressing them with vigor 

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Spending More Time in Quadrant II

by Trilogy Partners on Aug 02, 2015 7:02:00 PM

By Eileen Nonemaker who is a colleague of Doug Brown at Paradigm Associates LLC.  Doug is an Alliance Partner of Trilogy Partners.

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Accountability: Changing Mediocrity into Excellence

by Trilogy Partners on Jun 30, 2015 10:29:47 AM

Accountable is a powerful word. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'accountable' as being 'required to explain actions or decisions to someone' or 'being required to be responsible for something'.  The Anglo-French origin of the word defines it as being 'liable to be called to account'. 

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