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Monday Morning Notes
May 13, 2013
from the desk of Chuck Violand...

Good Monday morning, <<First Name>>—  

In this installment of my series on Stage II Stall I introduce a term first coined by my associate, Tim Hull. It describes the limited number of levels of management that exist in small businesses, how they can be affected when the business owner fails to develop their own professional skills, and how they can lead to Stage II Stall.


Cause #3—Arrested Professional Growth—Solutions

by Chuck Violand...
          During a presentation Tim Hull and I do on mastering Stage II growth we explore a concept Tim coined that is inherent in all small businesses: The Short Ladder.
          In large businesses it’s common for managers and executives to be motivated by “climbing the corporate ladder.” In small businesses the ladder is still there, but there usually aren’t as many rungs to climb before you bump up against the owner. This is what Tim refers to as The Short Ladder; a situation that can present challenges for small business owners.
            Not everyone is driven to be the top person in an organization. Many prefer to be great sidemen, which can actually bring greater value to a business (see 5-16-11 Second Fiddle.) At the same time most competent people want to grow professionally, be part of a winning team, and see their company succeed. It’s this professional growth and feeling part of a winning team that brings meaning and excitement to our jobs. So, when owners stop growing themselves professionally it further shortens an already short ladder and creates additional challenges for attracting and keeping talented people.
            Great employees look for opportunities for professional growth. If those are limited because of a short ladder, and if a candidate senses the growth of the company won’t provide them with enough opportunities to exercise their professional skills, they may pass on your company and opt for another where such possibilities exist.
            Some employees will give their employer the benefit of the doubt and assume the growth of the company will compensate for the lack of growth on the part of the owner. Unfortunately this can be short lived for two reasons: failure to grow on the part of the owner can ultimately lead to stall in the company, thus limiting or eliminating the employee’s opportunities for professional growth or advancement.  Secondly, owners who don’t see the value in developing themselves frequently don’t appreciate the value in developing their people beyond what’s absolutely necessary to deliver rudimentary levels of service. You don’t have to look too deeply to see how this can turn into a vicious, downward spiral of Stage II Stall™ brought on by the departure of talented people when they realize there are limited professional opportunities. Not a happy prospect for any company when you understand that business growth is facilitated through the engagement of talented people.
            When talented managers find themselves stuck on The Short Ladder behind owners unable or unwilling to lead their companies forward—or to move aside—they start questioning their own futures. Career oriented people seek opportunities to exercise their talents and to test their skills. When their current workplaces fail to provide this they will be drawn to ones that do.
            As with the two previous causes of Stage II Stall, Arrested Professional Growth is avoidable. Surrounding ourselves with competent people who are motivated and capable of challenging us is a great first step.


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