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Posted: December 16, 2011

Top 10 ways to become a business “previvor”

Tackle your risk head-on

Merit Gest

I became a "previvor" after genetic testing indicated my high risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. We all know cancer survivors, people who fight with everything in their power to beat the disease, but as science and medicine have advanced, there is a new game in town. Previvors are people who are clear about their high risk and do everything they can to reduce it.

Here are 10 tips to becoming a previvor in your business and avoid what could kill your business results in the future.

1. AWARENESS- Before you can eliminate problems that can hurt your business you have to have an awareness that your business is just one catastrophe away from being wiped out of existence. I don't say that to alarm you... well, actually, yes, I do want to alarm you. If you think everything is fine and dandy and will just stay that way, you are fooling yourself and your business is at risk.

2. KNOW YOUR OWN VULNERABILITIES - The best way to see the weak spots, most likely to leave you exposed to any business risk, is to take a look at the personal strengths and weaknesses of the leaders running the show. For a company to transform, its leaders must be transformed.

3. KNOW THE VULNERABILITIES OF YOUR TEAM - It's been years since we learned that we should "have the right people on the bus" but what hasn't been as widely discussed is HOW do you know if they are the right people? There are many tools to determine skill sets in various business roles, but the most important thing to learn about a person on your bus is how effectively they interact with the other people on your bus and how they relate to the people at the bus stops wanting to do business with your bus.

4. UNDERSTAND THE CURRENT CULTURE OF YOUR COMPANY - When it comes to company culture, what you don't know can kill you. Just because you have the company values framed in your lobby, doesn't mean that's what the people working in your company think about the company. Every year leadership should be checking in to learn what employees really think is the current culture. Don't be in the dark about what your current culture really is because if it's broken you can't fix it and if it's great, you can't capitalize on it.

5. UNDERSTAND THE DESIRED CULTURE OF YOUR COMPANY - It's been said that if you don't know where you are going any road will get you there. If you cannot clearly articulate the desired culture of your company then you are at high risk. One lousy employee, at any level, can take over your culture and create chaos. On the other hand, if you are clear about the culture you are creating, you will recognize quickly when someone is a "cancer" in your organization and do some chemo on them (so to speak...) or surgically remove them (so to speak...).

6. TURN INTANGIBLE VALUES INTO TANGIBLE BEHAVIORS - It's great to know what attitudes and values are important to the success of your business, but until you turn them into tangible behaviors and actions they really make no difference. Values work against you & can put you at high risk when people are not clear exactly how to "walk their talk."

7. BREAK DOWN YOUR HIRING PROCESS - You are at high risk when you don't have a clearly defined hiring process for every position in your company. Part of the hiring process is to always be interviewing. You leave yourself vulnerable to risk if a position is open for too long, other employees are overworked to make up for it and there is a negative impact on morale.

8. BREAK DOWN YOUR ON-BOARDING PROCESS - If that little voice in your head said, "what on-boarding process?" then you just found a high risk area in your business. This is good news because now you can do something about it. It is critical that every position has a clearly defined process for a new hire's first 90 days at least. Important in that process is assigning someone in your company to teach the culture of the organization. New hires will learn it from somebody, you are wise to control from whom they learn that lesson.

9. PREPARE BEFORE ACTION - You are at high risk in any area of your business where you jump into action before any preparation. Preparation before action can take several forms. Do you need to clear time from your schedule or relieve specific people of routine duties to do something different? Have you prepared when and how to measure the progress of your actions? Have you made sure your actions are consistent with the big vision and company values?

10. REASSESS AFTER ANY ACTIVITY - Your business is at high risk if you don't take the time to assess every action. You will repeat what doesn't work and miss the details that made things work if you don't do any post action assessment. If it's worth doing, it's worth knowing how well it was done.

To be a Previvor in business you need to do the "genetic testing" and determine the high risk areas in your company. The good news is that the process does not involve needles of any kind.
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Merit Gest is President & Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in on-boarding top sales talent.  She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, on-boarding and retaining top sales talent.  Reach Merit at 720-980-1286 or Merit@MeritGest.com
 

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Readers Respond

GREAT article Merit. The concept of genetic testing in your business to avoid risk is a powerful one. The problems that could be avoided would be astounding. Thanks for sharing your story and insight. Liz Wendling By liz wendling on 2011 12 16

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