By Dan Cooper on November 15, 2018

How Implementing an Operating System Can Give Your Employees Hope

Obvious truth: This world is hard. Life is unfair.

Accidents, tragedies, complications, diagnoses, divorces, addictions, and relationships are all hard. And that’s before employees get to work. Then they have to deal with all the things that make work … work.

I was on the phone with a CEO this week and he said, “I only have one person that has been for me and with me through my @!#$ in the last couple years.” That’s not enough people. That’s lonely, but at least he has one.

Many have none.

What if your company provided your employees the community, camaraderie, goodness, value, relationships, success, truth, achievement, and the peace that helps them go home and give hope to others?

What would that do for them, their marriage, kids, and neighborhood? What would it do for your company? What would it do for you?

“Ok. Nice sentiment. Way to go Jerry McGuire. Did you write that through tears? I get it, but good luck with that. I hardly have time to do everything on my list much less add ‘giving hope’ to it.”

Yes, you need to run a tight ship, be profitable, grow, hire slow, fire fast, execute and compete.

But that’s not all you need to do. Your people need hope in something. Your company is the place they need to get it from.

Let’s get practical

Hope can be given by running a great company and becoming the leader and owner that you are called to be. Yes, fuzzy and emotional words like hope need practicality. So, what is the practical side of creating hope? What’s the first step?

That starts with an operating system.

Without a defined operating system for your company, you won’t scale. You may grow, but there will be a point where growth is capped due to process, resource, and communication gaps that will be too big to overcome because people will be making “it” up all the time. Making “it” up, drama, dysfunction, and the unknown all take energy and vitality away from your employees and stunt development and growth.

You must decide on an operating system.
An operating system is a framework for your business so that you and everyone in it understands how the business works and can make decisions that live within it. Operating systems include vision/mission/values, an organization chart, accountability, financials and cash management, priorities, objectives, scorecards/metrics, standard operating procedures, and proven processes.

The entrepreneur in some of you just kicked in and made a face at some of those words. That doesn’t sound like fun and you are really bad at certain things on that list. Exactly. Which is all the more reason you need an operating system.

It doesn’t matter which one you use, just pick one.
Traction, Scaling Up, 4DX, The Advantage, The Balanced Scorecard you name it. Pick one you like. When in doubt, simpler is better, and move forward.

You can only have ONE operating system.
Pick one and stick with it. When you have multiple operating systems people will create factions and arguments about which one is better in which situation. This will confuse priorities and objectives.

One person must own it.
If you don’t commit and make your operating system a part of daily, weekly, and monthly conversations then it will get lost in the shuffle. Your business is always trending towards chaos. Left without a champion, an operating system will fade into the abyss. This isn’t the flavor of the month. It’s an operating system. It needs an owner to manage the details and breath life into it constantly. On most occasions, the owner and visionary of the business should NOT be the owner of the operating system.

You must run it for at least 3 years.
Just like the NFL or MLB, it takes a coach a while to get their system in place, find the players to fit the system, and move forward at full speed. But once the team is there and everyone is on the same page … watch out. Patience is key.

You can evolve the system after the 1st year
“But our business is different.” Congrats … and no it’s not. Your customers say that to you and you nod but don’t agree. It’s the same here. An operating system should be run as defined in the first year.  Only once you have fully implemented it down to the front lines and understand the full impact may you paint outside the lines. You don’t start playing Mozart when you start learning the piano. Learn how to have a functional meeting first. Learn what the most effective metrics are first. THEN you can tweak the system for the nuances of your business.

Don’t change your system just because you are going through some challenging times.
Challenging times will happen in your business. It’s not the system’s fault. You may have a weak link, team, person, or external factors outside of your control. Changing systems causes more company trauma than optimizing and troubleshooting what is currently the problem. Change the tactics, innovate and evolve. But don’t put in a whole new system.

Remember that whole HOPE thing? Yeah, an operating system gives your team hope. When you can solve how the system is going to work with process and consistency, your team can put energy towards new opportunities, situations, and challenge instead of just trying to get the work done with the least amount of headwinds, drama, and unknown.

It also allows you the time and space to be the leader you are made to be. The servant leader. The champion of your Why. Giver of hope.

Hope is not a plan, but it’s a heck of a motivator. Give your team hope with an operating system, and watch your company grow.

Published by Dan Cooper November 15, 2018