WHAT IS BUSINESS COUNSELING?
Business counseling is a specialized form of consulting. It has its roots in the field of psychology as well as business; specifically, the counseling side of psychology. Business counseling looks at the human factor in typical business problems, using psychology to help businesses make the corrections necessary for the succsessful operation of the business.
A number of issues are studied. Various issues are looked at to determine if they are working as they should. if they aren’t, I look at the reasons for their failure.
I look at the way information flows through the business as well as the effectiveness of the communication. I may look at the paper flow whether it’s real paper or digital.
Some ask whether one person can make a difference. History is filled with the names of individuals who made a difference, sometimes for the betterment of mankind and sometimes to the detriment. One person can make a difference in business, and often does. Most of us have heard the old adage that “one rotten apple can spoil the whole bushel.” Well, this is as true within businesses as it is within bushels of apples. It is also true that one person can positively influence an entire business.
Businesses depend on systems to help them operate successfully. The systems require people. When employees in a company don’t perform their jobs correctly, the system they are a part of malfunctions.
Many companies are started by entrepeneurs who have very dynamic personalities and high energy levels. These companies grow very rapidly by putting tremendous energy and a lot of time into product development, marketing, and sales. As the companies grow the owners find that some operations are not being run as well as they need to be.
It often seems that when these entrepeneurs make an attempt to delegate responsibility to others, problems arise.
The owners feel as though everything is on their shoulders (it is), and as the business grows so does the stress. The owners feel the business is getting out of control as more and more mistakes are made. This may lead to micromanaging. Mistakes then increase, tensions rise, employees leave, and the stress level increases.
The owners then hire managers with great resumes. These new managers however, seem unable to provide the needed leadership. Frustration and stress build as the business growth becomes threatened.
HOW DOES BUSINESS COUNSELING WORK?
I meet with the manager who has the greatest authority in the department or company that I’m being asked to look at. This is usuallly the owner, but may be the president of a division, or manager of the department in question. It will be the person who is able to make all the decisions required to effect and enforce changes.
The manager or owner discusses the business in terms of how things should be and in terms of how they are. Usually, by the time I have been called many attempts have been made to improve the situation.
I may then interview all employees in the departments involved and maybe even from other departments that interface with those involved. The interviews are held under rules of confidentiality. After this is completed I write a report to the owner and meet with him or her to discuss the findings.
Specific suggestions for altering the troublesome situations are made, and help in bringing about the changes is offered, as well.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
A few different factors determine the length of time necessary to complete the process; number of employees, availability of employees for interviews (without disturbing the work), and complexity of the issues. Normally the process can be completed within six to ten working days.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
After the initial meeting with the owner or manager I’ll usually tour the business, and then within a few days, provide the owner with a written proposal explaining how long the counseling will take, a description of what will occur, what will be accomplished, and the cost. There is no charge for that process.
The exact cost is determined ahead time. There are no hourly fees. The cost cannot get out of control.
DOES IT WORK?
Yes, because it focuses on the real issue: getting people to do their jobs right. Machines don’t run businesses, people do. As much as businesses depend on machines, they still require humans to run or oversee them. Business counseling takes advantage of the current knowledge of human psychology to ensure that the business process flows smoothly.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of business counseling is going to be dependent on management managing effectively. The counselor will provide the necessary information, but the “Bosses” need to carry out their part of the bargain; making the changes required for success of the business.