December 15, 2010
By Jacki Hart CLP
Prosperity Partners program manager

Jacki HartIn the Prosperity Partners program, we have a framework which supports the key aspects and activities of every business. We call this framework the Pillars of Prosperity, and they include: Financial Health, Sales Success, Professional Operations, Leadership and Customers for Life.

What I’ve come to realize by stepping back and working ON the Prosperity Partners program, rather than IN it, is that there’s a deeper layer, which lies in the base of every pillar, and which flows horizontally between them. It is the behaviour of the people in your business.

This ‘aha’ moment is what sparked inspiration to spend this past summer writing an e-book. I finally figured out a way to articulate and measure the behavioural financial statement, and unravel the mysteries that lie in the invisible undercurrents of every business: the behaviour of the people who work in them. After working with hundreds of you, while teaching the Prosperity Partners program, I can assure you that people problems are the status quo.

Whether in a Prosperity seminar, or networking with peers either in our trade or beyond, business owners have similar frustrations with managing people. I too have struggled as owner of Water’s Edge Landscaping with the mysteries and frustrations of how to get people to work together, embracing common purpose, without personalities, or personal agendas getting in the way.

As owners and managers, supervisors and technicians, we all seem to possess a common passion for the challenges and fun in the work we do, yet struggle to engage and align with the people at work. I learned so much on my Prosperity journey about managing people — and I’m better at it than I used to be, yet I’m prepared to admit there’s no end point. Rather, it’s a continuous journey.

There really is no one formula to manage people successfully. We are all different, and we all bring different strengths to the table, different personalities and different biases. And, at times, there are different hidden personal agendas. Everyone goes to work in the morning unconsciously humming their own tune of what’s in it for me today; what am I going to accomplish and earn (monetary or pride or both)?

Through many months of contemplating this invisible factor, I’ve come to this conclusion: In order to be a more effective owner or manager, your thinking needs to shift from the concept of managing (and often micro-managing) people, to a concept of organizing them.

The difference between the two, as I see it, is like night and day. Based on the overwhelmingly similar experience of most owners in our Prosperity Partners program, it’s what’s missing in many businesses.

Let me give you an example. Over the years, I have been a champion micro-manager in my landscape business. I was the keeper of all moving parts, the doer or trainer of all tasks, and fixer of most equipment. I assigned schedules, trucks, people, tasks and materials. I also designed landscapes, managed sub trades, negotiated with clients, and was a beggar of bank managers. I think you get my point.

In hindsight, what I now know is that as long as I kept up that role, my business needed me. It wasn’t until the past few years, when I really learned the enormous power in stepping back, that I started to think differently, and organize differently.

It’s working, so I share it here with you to consider the merits of my theory. As long as you manage every moving part in your business, you will need to continue along that path. And you will not likely find those engaged, perfect employees for whom you are constantly searching. The truth is, you already have untapped engagement — but just like most entrepreneurs, you don’t know how to turn it on. I pushed up against that brick wall for years.

My experience is that when you create the opportunity for people to engage, think and be accountable in a self-motivated, prideful way, magic happens. The tension between staff dissipates, and they engage in the bigger picture, have more fun, rise to more challenges with enthusiasm, and are much more effective as a team.

This shift doesn’t come overnight; it’s taken a lot of patience, and a whole new set of tools — people tools — to fill this huge gap in my business. The great news is that the effort to change my own attitude toward the people resource in my business is really paying off. It’s taken me along on an expensive (millions of payroll dollars) journey to realize that no matter what I do, or say, or direct people to do, it’s their attitude and behaviour that either accelerates the results of my efforts to create a successful business, or sabotages them. With or without the intention to do so, it’s what it is.

I suggest that this deeper layer, the invisible effects of the way people behave in your business, needs attention if you are going to bring your business to its next level and keep it there. This starts with the Build Your Prosperity seminar, where participants step back and define the culture of their business: The non-negotiable, the mind set, the what-we-do, and the why we are doing it. This important step will define the foundation and direction of your business, and unlock the door to engagement with right-fit people, dumping wrong-fit people, and (I now realize) setting the standards for everyone owning their role and being accountable to their responsibilities at work.  

With a solid foundation in place, and best practices being followed across the Pillars and within them, accountable and engaged people will manage themselves. The boss then just needs to organize his or her efforts with big picture thinking.

My passion to create and teach the Prosperity Partners program content has been rooted in my desire help as many of you as I can, in order to avoid the pitfalls that I fell into head-first along my business journey. This behavioural ‘aha’ moment is one more piece in the puzzle to demystifying the keys to success, and goes to show that even the Prosperity Partners Program is on its own journey of continual improvement and development.

Join me at Congress on Wed., Jan. 12 at 2 p.m., to learn more about how this great program can really help the business you work in, and move you to the next level of success.
Jacki Hart may be reached at