As a business owner, you make a lot of decisions. Some decisions seem very important while others look insignificant. The reality is that the decisions you make do have varying degrees of consequences but, all of your decisions are important.
Call it “just part of the gig” that you’ve taken on as a business leader that the people you lead are always looking to you, your decisions, and your actions in establishing the culture and expectations of your business.
The big decisions usually get all of your attention. You weigh your options carefully, consider the likely outcomes, and choose the best course of action wisely. Let’s say your lease is up for renewal and the landlord wants to raise your rent more than you believe reasonable. You’ve considered moving into a new property that is available for purchase. You must contrast the effort and disruption of relocating including a down payment on a mortgage versus just bumping your rent payment without any hassle.
I am very confident the vast majority of us would evaluate the lease versus buy and move decision with thoughtful due diligence just as we should. Moving your business and taking on a new mortgage just captures your attention. The magnitude of the decision makes it easy to zero in and give the appropriate priority to the choice.
But what about the small decisions you make every day? What time you leave work in the evening? How long do you take for lunch? Do you follow up on a meeting with written confirmation of action items?
The daily routine decisions greatly outnumber the big decisions. While these seemingly less critical choices won’t make much of an impact from any one event, they add up quickly and communicate volumes to the people around you, your team.
My personal experience has been that these less critical actions can be harder to manage than the high impact decisions. The smaller decisions tend to sneak up on you as “just not that big of a deal; I own the business so I can certainly do what I want or at least what I prefer.”
I am challenging you to consider that the more mundane, routine, and lower impact decisions translate into developed habits which have a very large impact upon your culture and employee engagement. Your habits set the tone and expectations for the culture of your business.
We focus most of our energy toward the big moves with a big impact; like purchase a new building or not. I don’t need to write a post telling you to pay attention to big decisions.
Pay attention to the small decisions!
I have often felt, “I’ve got a lot on my mind, and lunch with my work buddies helps me stay grounded.” I didn’t appreciate or give adequate attention to some of the smaller choices I made. My lunch friends became a habit. I liked my habit and there was really nothing wrong with a regular lunch group. We talked shop and had legitimate constructive work dialogue.
But I was the leader of the business and my lunch group was perceived as an exclusive club. Although I didn’t mean it that way and anybody could tag along, that’s not how some people not as close to me felt. I had unintentionally created a source of animosity in my own work team. That was stupid. It was completely within my right and in itself seemed small but to others it was important. My lunch routine began to have a significant impact on our internal relationship dynamics and culture.
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. 1 Cor 10:23-24 ESV
In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul is addressing developing rifts within the church. The church at Corinth was beginning to bicker about what was appropriate dress or what people were allowed to eat. The church members were drawing battle lines surrounding their beliefs, personal preferences, and freedoms. Smaller non-essential topics were damaging the fabric of the church.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 instruction to the church to not focus on what they can do under the spiritual law but what they should do to build up others and the church. Paul tells them “that all these things may be lawful for me, but not all these things are helpful.”
Applied to your business leadership, pay attention to the things that you certainly can do, but maybe should not do.
Ask yourself how you can act, what habits can you adjust, or what you can stop doing to make a positive impact on your business culture.
In all things ask yourself if you’re paying more attention to, “Can You, or Should You.”