Where Does Your 800-Pound Gorilla Sit?

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    By Jim D'Amico


    An “800-pound gorilla,” in business is a big negative issue(s).

    A Google search turned up the following; an 800-pound gorilla is “one that is dominating or uncontrollable because of great size or power.”

    Most of us have at least one or two 800-pound gorillas in our company. If you have one in your company, it’s hard to overcome because it exerts force or control over people and decisions in your company. The gorilla can be either temporary or permanent.

    A temporary gorilla can be simply the result of a slowdown in business due to the off-season or an economic downturn. Not enough business leads to reduced operating revenue, placing purchasing or business expansion on hold. Lack of cash is the 800-pound gorilla. Hopefully, it won’t stick around too long.

    Hard-to-deal-with or negative employees I would consider as temporary gorillas because those employees can and should be terminated for the good of the company.

    In a startup, not enough business can be an 800-pound gorilla because the lack of cash flow and profits can stymie growth. On the other hand too much business can place that crushing, eight-hundred pounder right on top of your checkbook, making it hard to breathe life into your company due to lack of resources to keep up with demand.

    I’ve seen the lack of communication between sales and installation create the gorilla effect on companies. Sales people want to sell and installers want to install and neither group looks at a job the same way. The installers say the salespeople sell anything just to make their commission without care or concern about how the job gets installed.

    Salespeople say installers are a bunch of complainers if the job doesn’t come together smoothly. If the company is all about sales, the gorilla sits on top of the installers to “make it happen” regardless of the missing details from the sales department. If the company is all about creating the perfect installation, the gorilla sits on top of the sales people who will be reluctant to “get creative” if even just a little when facing tougher installations.

    Lack of training can create an 800-pound gorilla, because untrained employees do what they believe they should do in a situation and that may not be aligned with what you want them to do.

    Perhaps the worst 800-pound gorilla lurking in a company is the one that sits in the owner’s chair. Rarely do business owners see themselves as a gorilla, nor do they see the devastating impact they can propagate on their own company with just a few simple words that transforms them into the gorilla.

    “We’ve always done it this way,” is camouflage for an unwillingness to change. “Because I said so,” crushes ingenuity and the optimism an employee has for the company and their job. “We can’t afford it,” promotes concern about the viability of the company. “That isn’t going to bring a dime’s worth of business,” tells employees they have bad ideas. “I don’t give a damn!” forcefully tells the employees the boss doesn’t care and instills the same attitude in employees.

    Where does your company's 800-pound gorilla sit? Take a look around.  You may not see an eight-hundred pounder, but you may have a baby gorilla or two that is growing with each passing day. Identify that creature, capture and cage it and remain vigilant. Gorillas like to bring their friends and relatives with them.


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