As the business owner / Leader do you picture yourself in the above?
One of the common things I hear from a number of textile SME owners is of how they end up doing most of the heavy lifting. Even the senior members of their team are unable or unwilling to take ownership of getting things done or not wanting to take the risk of taking wrong decisions. This issue seems to be prevalent across industry segments and seems to be one of the bigger challenges a textile SME founder/owner faces when he/she is looking to grow their business.
The first challenge is to attract the right talent to their organization, the second is to ensure that this talented individual stays beyond one year in the company so that he can make a difference to the business results and third is for this person to take the required risk and ownership to ensure end to end completion of any task.
Let’s look at the third aspect and know more about the methodology to build this ability in the critical layer of leadership in the company.
I believe that if the right talent is attracted and selected then the responsibility to build ownership and risk taking attitude is of the SME owner/founder. It is a slow process and the time taken will depend on both the owner/founder and senior leader in question, however, at the heart of this process is for the SME owner to develop the mentality of accepting failure. Over the last few years in the desire for getting better production or quality parameters, most owner/founders have chosen to move to the norm of no mistakes or mistake proofing their processes and systems.
The undesired side effect of this notion is that it makes people fearful of making mistakes, and if a mistake is made to try to hide it or cover it up. I remember an old saying from my childhood which goes like “ the only person who does not make a mistake is someone who does not do anything” . So in the quest for perfection, the leader could be converting his teams into people who do nothing.
It is famously said that “there are no failures, only feedback” and I would like to share the following steps to build a culture where risk taking and ownership becomes the second nature.
- As owners/founders please learn to accept mistakes made by your teams. Use the mistake/failure as a coaching opportunity.
- Ensure that you are providing feedback to the teams on a regular basis. The feedback needs to include what went right and what did not, as even in a failure, something is right.
- Reward failures- when I was a young officer in the army 36 years ago, I learnt by doing and making mistakes. There was a small cost attached to the mistake but never was I told to check from my superior before taking any action.
- Each failure needs to be taken as a learning opportunity. I once consulted for a company which gathered all staff members in case of a failure or a mistake being made. The failure was discussed and common learnings gleaned, summarised and internalised by all. The company built a culture where even a failure of a senior leader would be discussed in the open if it could be used to internalise common learnings. There was no ego or shame connected to failing or making a mistake.
- Connect your reward framework to number of failures/mistakes made. The point to be kept in mind that the same mistake/failure repeated is not a mistake, it is a blunder which you should deal with appropriately.
Building this ability to take ownership in your team is one of the key attributes of a great textile SME owner. Try to implement the process that I have given out in this article and let me know how it has worked in your company.
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