|Business Management Information|
Business Relationship Germs
In management seminars I often compare debt to an infection. A reasonable amount of debt will not kill a business, but too much debt will. While most businesses carry a substantial amount of debt from time to time, it must be maintained in an acceptable relationship to stockholder's equity.
Infection is also a threat in business relationships. How serious the illness your business' relationships experience depends on how effective management is at controlling business relationship germs that are spread around in the normal course of doing business.
The following are a few of the relationship germs I'm referring to. Managers must understand them and control them to keep their business relationships healthy.
Belittling your employees. Your company's best and most productive employees have more options than ever. With so many options, employees have the luxury of demanding respect. So if you observe your managers belittling, putting down or showing disrespect to the people in the organization, corrective action is called for.
Seeing more negatives than positives. Is the glass half full or half empty in your organization? When employees break rules, make mistakes or violate company policies, these issues certainly need to be discussed and dealt with. However, when employees do something that you perceive to be over and above the call of duty, they also deserve praise.
In the little management book, The One-Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Johnson, the "one-minute praising" is recommended when employees are observed doing something right. To be most effective, "praisings" must occur as soon as possible following the positive behavior and should be as specific as possible.
Failure to provide employee feedback. Employees deserve to know where they stand and in professionally managed organizations, feedback is typically given via a formal performance review.
What is the employee turnover in your organization? Are your operating expenses higher than necessary due to excessive employee churn? Excessive employee turnover is a sign that your people are either not earning a competitive wage or management is not communicating clearly.
Poor customer care behavior. Competitors are highly motivated to begin more aggressive attacks on your customer base. Because so many of your industry's less professional salespeople will employ low-ball pricing tactics as bait, more attention than ever must be paid to how well your company is treating its customer base.
The owner or general manager should be on a first-name basis with each of the customers that make up the top 80% of your sales. A manager should visit each top customer at least on a quarterly basis, showing genuine and sincere interest in their business and asking what the company can do to improve the efficiency of their operations.
Invite customers and prospects onto your turf. Organize customer seminars, hold an open house, invite vendors to conduct new product demonstrations, launch a customer newsletter, etc.
Bill Lee works with managers who want to put more money on the bottom line and author of Gross Margin: 26 Factors Affecting Your Bottom Line. $29.95 + $5 S&H.
Do You Hear That?
I read a report in the Toronto Star stated that 70% of workplace errors happen because of communication breakdown and that many of them directly relate to a lack of listening skills.
Boost Your Leadership Skills By Disciplining Yourself In The Way Of The Question Mark
I'm often asked to come in to organizations and give a motivational speech to their employees. I reply that I'm not a motivational speaker. Never have been. Never will be. Don't want to be. I do something else. I teach their people how to become motivational leaders. That's a far more productive endeavor.
Got A Meeting Planned? Ask This Question
Meetings ? they are a fact of our business lives. And while the number of meetings and the amount of time you spend in them may vary based on your job title, it is hard to argue that they are a significant part of business life today.
Empowering Others - Giving Them Some Control
It's been a pretty good weekend around the place - not done a lot, but I have done what I've wanted to do - and that makes the difference.
The Four Key Steps In Hiring And Keeping Top People
"When you hire the best, the rest is easy!" We have heard this phrase many times, but how do we put this concept into action? We know that hiring the best people is vital to the success of your business, especially for fast growing businesses. And certainly, your customers have high service expectations. So?how do you hire and keep top people? Let's start from the beginning.
Balance Your Managerial Life
We have only one life, but we live in three overlapping worlds-our business world, our family world, and our other social world. Imagine bringing your spouse and kids to a meeting with seven of your salespersonnel. Sitting off to your left, Miss Wright asks the question on the minds of all her fellow sales colleagues, "Why did you bring your family to our meeting today? Will they be playing any sort of role in our discussion?" You simply respond, "No, they're just here so I can tend to their needs."
ISO 9001 Compliant Program: Steps to Build
Implementing an ISO 9001 system represents a major effort. However, all of that effort can represent a significant shift for a business - from quantity to quality. And this could make sure your business gets the desired results.
More Computer Consulting 101 Hiring Tips (Part 2 of 2)
Does your company need to retain the services of a competent computer consulting firm, but you have no idea how to really evaluate "competence"? In the first part of this two-part series on Computer Consulting 101 hiring tips, we looked at why small businesses find it so difficult to hire good computer consulting companies, as well as four basic questions that you must be addressed when searching for a new computer consulting vendor. Now in this second and final installment of this two part series on Computer Consulting 101 hiring tips, we'll look at how you can evaluate the true, often-confusing expenses of using a computer consulting company, as well as how to more thoroughly review the computer consulting company's professional credentials and experience.
Smart Staffing Practices: Don?t Confuse Activity with Results
Does your hiring process consist of proven practices or just a hodgepodge of activities that get into gear when someone says, "I need more people" or "Sally has left and we need someone to take her place NOW?"
Stomp Out Leeches In Your Company
Recently, I felt appalled to see a political candidate running on the motto of "Demand More!" That motto oozes extreme nerve, and implies some people think it is o.k., as the saying goes, to "rob Peter to pay Paul."
Are You Using the Right Form of Energy?
As we near the end of summer, here is a question I have for you, "Are you using the right form of energy to grow your business?" Are you having trouble growing your small business as fast as you want? Are you making all the right moves and still the business just inches forward? Read this article and see if you are using the right form of energy to grow your small business?
Outsourcing Quiz: Cheap Vs. Good
Someone can say, 'Why do you oppose this?' So I'd like to prevent such attacks and tell that this article is dedicated mainly to the issue if it's worth to look for the cheapest solution.
Use QA As Your First Step To Outsourcing
Quality Assurance, or QA, is often given short shrift in a software development organization, especially when budgets are tight. When debating the software development budget at one of my software companies, the CEO finally asked, "Well, do you really want to hire a QA guy, or a programmer to add features to the software?"
Is It Worth To Outsource? How One Can Outsource Wisely
Recent trends in software development market show that it is no longer the most efficient way to work onshore. Competition is too high and in some particular cases, US or European IT people even go farming rather than admit the situation and adapt themselves. This article is mainly for those who are going to stay straight in the industry whatever surprises it keeps bringing.
Dont Let Your Measurements Mislead You
Don't Let Your Measurements Mislead You There aren't too many words that can strike as much fear and loathing into the hearts of your internal customers, and sometimes your own employees as the words "Operational Measurements". Operational Measurements often get a bad rap because of their misuse by well intended, but misinformed management. And it's easy for your employees to view Operational Measurements as some kind of cheap trick to force more work out of them as you constantly try and force more and more production from your team. Meanwhile, your sales team thinks that you will use Operational Measurements to cloud the issue of customer satisfaction by pointing to your "great numbers" while leaving the customer very unhappy. The truth is that you cannot succeed in managing an operational organization without the proper measurements in place. Any attempt to run an organization without them is doomed to failure because you will lack the fundamental information required to manage your business. Coach Dave is a strong believer in Operational Measurements because he knows that the right measurements, taken in a consistent fashion will allow you to continuously improve the performance of the organization and the company. Yep, Operational Measurements are good. . . . except of course, when they are bad. In simple terms, Operational Measurements are progress meters that can tell you how well, or how poorly your group is performing. The key to successful Operational Measurements is to make sure that you are managing and measuring your key processes. It all starts with your departmental or company objectives. You should have 2 to 3 major objectives, depending upon the size and scope of your organization. The key is to focus on whatever it is that you are really being asked to deliver on, and then set up your objectives, and Operational Measurements in a way that can tell you if you are succeeding or not. If your objective is production based (i.e. produce 50 widgets per month) then make sure that your measurements track the number of widgets produced. If your measurement is time based (i.e. complete widgets within 10 days of receipt) then once again, make sure that your measurement tracks to the objective. You would be surprised how easy it is to create measurements that sound important, but have nothing to do with your stated objectives. For example, if you goal is to paint 10 houses each month a metric that tracks how many brushes you use may sound important for cost control purposes, but it really has nothing to do with the objective. By focusing on the number of brushes you use, you may actually impede your ability to complete the goal of 10 houses. Ensuring that your objectives and measurements are in synch will keep you and your department focused on the prize. Once you have your key measurements in place, you can start to look for a pattern in the results. If you are not able to meet your objectives, the question has to become "why". It could be a variety of factors from bad inputs, to bad processes, to bad people. To determine where the problem is, break out your measurements in that area to each key step in the process. As you examine those results it will become more apparent that "step 5" takes up 80% of the processing time. Then you can focus on reducing the time spent on that step. One other key factor to account for as you measure your process steps is "wait time". "Wait time" doesn't always manifest itself clearly in reporting, so spend the time to analyze how many handoffs exist in your process and ask yourself and your staff if some of those handoffs can be eliminated through combing functions, training, etc. It is simply amazing the amount of time lost in a process due to the "wait time" while an order is sent from one person to the next. Reducing the "wait time" can dramatically improve your results. In a nutshell, that's why you need to have good, clean Operational Measurements in place. Many of the things you can count, don't count. Many of the things you can't count, really count. - Albert Einstein Any time your organization receives some kind of a work order from a customer (internal or external) adds value to it, and then either completes it or passes it along to another organization, you qualify as an Operational Organization. As an Operational Organization you need to have solid measurements in place to measure, validate, and eventually improve your own internal processes. But there is a downside to Operational Measurements as well. The downsides can take many forms, but the most common are when you start to measure everything that you do, simply because you can. Also, when your measurements rather than your customers, begin to drive how you do business. Are you counting the right things? The right way? Are you counting so many things that counting them has turned into your primary business? Are you helping your customers, or hurting them? That's the difference between good Operational Measurements, and bad ones. When Operational Measurements Go Bad: When you first implement your Operational Measurements, you will spend a lot of time analyzing, improving, and tweaking them. The painstaking process of developing and implementing the right measurements requires a lot of time up front. But that time is time well invested to make sure your measurements are complete, accurate, and in synch with your organizational objectives. You must spend the necessary hours making sure that your Operational Measurements track to your objectives, that they provide a consistent measurements, and that they are at the appropriate level of detail to allow you to identify weaknesses in your operation, and implement improvements. But, when you find yourself counting things because you can, or you begin adding measurements that do not relate to your objectives that's the first sign of trouble. Also, when your Operational Measurements become the sole driver in your organization, that's a pretty good sign that you've turned the corner and are headed down the wrong path. Remember, not everything that counts, can be counted. And just because you can count it, doesn't mean you should count it. Let's use the example we previously discussed of a house painter. For our purposes here, this is a big house painting company with multiple crews who do different types of painting. At the start of the year the decision is made to set a new objective for your crew. You are now being asked to paint 13 houses per month with the same size crew, up from just 10 last year. You sit down with your crew and begin to look for ways to improve productivity. You make the necessary changes to your team or process and then set out to accomplish your new goal. Your changes are effective and productivity improves and you start reaching your new goal. Then, a funny thing happens. You get a memo from your boss that goes something like this. "The bean counters tell me that your paint brush usage is up 15% above last year. Every dollar counts, so I'm putting together a special task force to cut the number of paintbrushes being used. We need to reduce our paint brush usage to 10% below last years level within 30 days." And . . . . we're off . . . . this is what I sometimes refer to as "The Operational Measurement Shuffle". What is the Operational Measurements Shuffle? It's a dance that management sometimes does where we lose focus on our objectives and instead start dancing with a lot of extraneous information that may LOOK important, but really isn't. Sometimes it's not entirely clear when the Operational Measurements Shuffle actually begins. But if you pay attention, you'll see the dance by the end of the first chorus. We're now going to start counting things (paintbrush usage) that has nothing to do with our objectives, but that looks important to someone else far away. Notice that the boss didn't ask you to explain why paintbrush usage was up, nor did he look at the cost/benefit of paintbrush usage versus revenue, he just told you to reduce the usage. You can expect this new measurement to be followed by new measurements of the painters' hats being used, the amount of thinner being used, and questions about the number of rungs required on the ladders. And lastly he blamed the "bean counters". The uninformed always blame the bean counters. At first glance you might think that it's ok to wonder about the paintbrush usage. And it is. But there is a difference between asking a question, and putting in new measurements to track them. For example, a smart boss would have called and asked about the increase in the number of paintbrushes being used. Your response might have been something like this. "That's right. Our paintbrush usage is up. In order to meet our goals for the year (13 houses per month) we made a change from regular paintbrushes to disposable paintbrushes. The new brushes cost 30% less than the old ones, plus we save on turpentine, and clean up time at the end of each day. So our paintbrush usage is up, but our costs are flat or down." With a good boss, that will end the discussion. You've answered the questions, explained the variance, and shown that there is just cause for the increase. But a bad boss will not listen at all, or will just pretend to listen and then suggest new measurements on paintbrush usage. With a bad boss the fact that there is a valid reason for the increase in paintbrush usage is not really relevant. Paintbrush usage is up, and it must be reduced. For a bad boss, it's as simple as that. If you have learned how to manage your boss, then maybe you can convince them that the measurements are not relevant by showing how they don't relate to and can even detract from your objectives. But some bosses are so enamored with measurements that they can't tell a good measurement from a bad one. The long and short of this discussion is simple. If your measurements are clearly in support of your objectives, you are most likely on the right track. If your measurements have wandered from the objectives, no longer support your customers, or even put you at odds with your objectives, it's time to take a step back and rethink your measurements. After all, who are we to argue with Einstein
A Sense of Humor in the Workplace ... Is it Me? Or, was that not funny?
When I was first initiated into Corporate America, I had a sense of humor that went unmatched by any mortal soul. I was quick-witted, smart, sharp, and knew every gag and joke available to humanity. Most of it, I learned in college. But, college never really did teach the fact that having a sense of humor in the workplace is different than 'jocularity.' After a few brushes with career-chaos, I realized that the definition of 'corporate humor' deals with how one handles oneself and not how one can elicit laughter.
Operating on Perpetual Overload?
Check Out Your E-Habits
How To Turn Business Losses Into Cash Flow
When the typical new business operator starts a business, they concentrate on making the business succeed. That is necessary but not the only thing that a business operator should concentrate on. A business depends on cash flow to exist and grow, so business operators would do their business a good turn by looking at sources of cash flow provided by the Government.
10 Critical Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Consultant
Talk to as many consultants as you can before hiring one. Even if you have one person or firm in mind, interview at least a few others as a sort of due diligence. You'll probably find that each interview helps you focus on the issues you're hiring a consult to help resolve.
Workplace Violence - People are Dying Going to Work
Workplace violence has become a tragic reality today. From minor instances of harassment to homicide today's workplace is littered with danger.
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