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Small Business Tips

By: Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor, Resource Center

Author, Silicon Valley venture capitalist, small business-evangelist and blogger, former Apple chief evangelist…

Guy Kawasaki  is a force de la nature. His latest book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions (Portfolio, 2011) outlines the steps to enchant customers, employees and your boss.

Kawasaki argues that in business and personal interactions, the goal is not merely to get what you want but to bring about a voluntary, enduring, and delightful change in other people.

He offered his insights on how small businesses can cultivate enchantment.

Monster: Your latest book's title, Enchantment, is an interesting choice of words. It brings to mind the idea of “authenticity.” Does what you’re advocating lie somewhere between the two?

Kawasaki: Enchantment is beyond authenticity. People who are enchanting are authentic, but not all authentic people are enchanting. For example, a person could be an authentic jerk, if you know what I mean. Enchanting people are both likable and trustworthy, and authenticity is a building block of trustworthiness.

Monster: You recommend that small businesses define their company’s purpose as a means to drive employee satisfaction. Can that purpose be similar to those found in large companies?

Kawasaki: Purpose is purpose. There is no reason why a small business's purpose cannot be as lofty as a large company -- nor, frankly, that a large business's purpose cannot be as lofty as one from a small business. If anything, large businesses should emulate small businesses more than vice versa. The problem with the stated purposes of large businesses is that the words are usually crafted by marketing people and outside agencies. That is, defining the purpose is an exercise in marketing spin, not a true definition of the reason an organization exists.

Monster: You also recommend that employers set clear goals for employees and give them the autonomy to do the right thing. Can an employer expect all their employees to be capable of doing so? 

Kawasaki: It would be naive to assume that all employees are capable of doing so, but it's also stupid to manage a company for the lowest common denominator. An organization should believe that employees are good until proven bad -- actually proven bad at least two times because everyone makes mistakes.

I'm sure people can come up with horror stories of over-empowering employees, but the cure is worse than the cause, because when management distrusts employees, a downward spiral towards mediocrity occurs. On the other hand, when management trusts and empowers employees, the employees usually rise to the occasion. At the moment you're hiring someone, if you don't think you can empower the person, then you shouldn't hire the person anyway.

Monster: You lay out some tough love for employers on how they should treat employees, including “Judge yourself by what you’ve accomplished and others by what they intended.” Why is this principle important for small business owners?

Kawasaki: I learned this lesson the hard way because I used to judge people who worked for me too harshly and without understanding the totality of what was going on in their lives. This principle is important for small-business owners because there usually aren't layers and layers of management and years and years of practice at supervision. The owner has to embody this attitude for the organization and set the right values to remain in place as the small business grows.

Monster: You cite author's Bob Sutton’s list of the twelve beliefs of good bosses. Do bad bosses in small companies commit the same sins as those in bigger companies? Are the consequences the same?

Kawasaki: More or less, a bad boss is a bad boss regardless of the size of the organization. The consequences are not the same, though. If you screw up in a big company, you get a huge severance package. If you screw up in a small company, you get the boot. I've never understood the theory of severance packages for screwing up.

Monster: You talk about wooing employees -- not just job candidates – and consistently telling them how much they’re valued. Is this a crucial practice for small companies?

Kawasaki: First, the most powerful way to enchant employees is to provide a MAP. “M” stands for mastery -- that is, a way to master new skills on the job. “A” stands for autonomy -- so that employees can master new skills while working autonomously and not be micro-managed. Finally, “P” stands for purpose. Employees love to master new skills in autonomous positions while working towards an organization with a high purpose such as making the world a better place.

Telling employees that you appreciate them is also valuable too. It's even more valuable in a recession because in a recession there's less money to pass around as motivation and as a management team. A recession is a very interesting time because it takes real troopers to perform when the going is tough. Anyone can look good when times are booming.

More on Enchantment:

Guy’s Realistic Enchantment Aptitude test (GREAT)
Enchantment Media Resources

 

 
 
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