For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, the mere thought of ending a relationship with an employee, product line, or a less-than-productive business strategy is a taboo subject often associated with failure. The idea can be so paralyzing it is often pushed to the back of the mind to gather dust.
In his new book Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward, psychologist and bestselling author Dr. Henry Cloud (pictured) explains why these endings are not the failures they are often thought to be, but they are actually part of a natural life cycle of business and life, and should be seen as necessary opportunities that can lead to something better.
One of Cloud’s main concepts in the book revolves around “pruning,” which in the gardening sense refers to the practice of trimming the mediocre, sick, and dead branches or flowers from a rosebush so that the rest of the plant can thrive. This is also a metaphor for making the necessary cuts and changes in an individual’s life or business in order to survive and grow.
Taking from years of experience as a leadership consultant, Cloud recounts many of the difficult endings that he has helped business leaders successfully deal with and how those endings led to better overall results for the individuals in question. He then turns to a discussion of how any business owner can benefit from pruning their business.
Letting go of an employee is often the most difficult challenge for small business owners, because a strong emotional attachment to the individual is often formed. But as Cloud points out, it isn’t only the business that may feel the adverse effects of avoiding a necessary ending.
We spoke to Cloud directly to get more of his thoughts about why it’s important to tell it like it is. “In the long term, we don’t really do people favors by not telling them the truth and facing the realities that this is not a position that they’re cut out for, suited for, or thriving in,” Cloud says. “When we allow things to go one like that, we are actually holding those people back from finding what they could do well in.”
In Necessary Endings, Cloud also discusses how businesses often hit brick walls as a result of becoming too content with management styles and business practices that have been successful in the past but are no longer paying off.
“Business owners have to figure out what has changed,” Cloud says. “Has the customer changed, has the industry changed, have the paradigms that drive it all changed, or has technology rendered what they used to have and offer irrelevant?”
For business owners and individuals that have a difficult time of letting go when it counts, Necessary Endings provides a fresh perspective, revealing opportunities that are often unclear. For more information about Dr. Henry Cloud, visit his website or follow him on twitter at @DoctorHenryCloud.