management

In Your Business, Do You Tack On A Header? 0

A good friend of mine from college sailed in a regatta last weekend to raise money for charity. When I went on-line to make a small donation, the website, Mississippi Leukemia Cup Regatta, asked me to send a comment of encouragement. I told Cathy to “always tack on a header”.

If you are not a sailor, I offer the following paraphrased quote from Steve and Doris Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School:

More can be gained or lost in one healthy wind shift that can usually be made up by any amount of boat speed or superior sailing. Racing skippers are often so concerned about whether their boat is sailing faster than the one next to them that they neglect to consider the effect of wind shifts.

To the layman, this means if you are being pushed off course, you need to do something to get yourself back on course.  In this case the wind is changing so the boat is forced to move further away from its goal of reaching the next marker. If the captain of the boat doesn’t do something to change the boat’s relationship to the wind, the boat will stall, the energy of the wind will just rush past the sail and not provide lift to move the boat forward. To get moving forward, closer to the next marker, the captain must tack, change the direction of her boat in order to get the most advantage out of the new wind direction.

In business, you must be constantly ready to tack, to change your approach in order to keep your business moving forward, growing and expanding in a changing sea of challenges. The changes I’m addressing here are subtle, not cataclysmic. When  you tack on a header, you are adjusting your relationship to the goal, not changing the goal. When the captain of a sailboat tacks, her goal is still to get to the next buoy. Changing the direction of the sailboat at that moment is necessary to keep it moving towards the goal.

Sometimes you can just ride out a small change in the wind. But if the header is severe enough, you are being pushed further from your goal. On top of that, those who have already tacked are being helped by the change in wind direction. In business, this means that those who saw the wind changing are already reaping the benefits because they adjusted their course first.

So keep your business growing, moving forward by staying up on the latest wind movement, and don’t be so concerned about whether your business is moving faster than another. If you stay on the right side of wind shifts, you will reach the finish line ahead of the competition.

Does Your Organization Create Bottle Necks? 6

 You never know when and where a bottle neck will occur. I had arrived in plenty of time for the new officer training class. All I wanted to do was to meet with a friend before the morning session began. But the only entrance into the meeting room was blocked by the registration table.

At the time it was a little annoying, but I finally worked my way through, registering as I passed the table. Perhaps that was the idea. But the meeting was being held in a private company’s conference room and the building was back from the road on a tree-lined campus. I don’t think they were afraid of gate crashers.

After almost three hours of presentations, we broke for lunch. Guess where the lunch table was positioned? Just outside of the only exit from the meeting room. By this time, getting out for many was very urgent.  There had been no bathroom break.

As I struggled to maintain my composure while the line slowly moved towards the exit, I made the attached sketch.

I wonder how many times this happens? Are there bottlenecks in your organization? Are they merely inconvenient or do they impact productivity and cost money?   What types of bottle necks have you seen?

 

Boss or Leader? 0

Thank’s to www.PMCampus.com for posting this on FaceBook. Has anyone found this to be true?

Managers, Do You Work With Heroes? 2

I was traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike yesterday afternoon. I had gotten on at exit 7A and was heading south to exit 6 to take the Pennsylvania Turnpike west to Route 81. The view on the turnpike in South Jersey is decidedly different from the urban, industrial view many associate with “the turnpike”. Through the trees you can see homes, shopping centers, even the occasional pond or stream. But what caught my eye on this trip was a large sign in front of a building.

It said:

HERO’S WORK HERE

The sign belongs to a company that specializes in Forklift, Construction equipment, Crane, Standby Power, and Material Handling Sales Servicing the Mid-Atlantic. If I were ever in the market for any of those services, I would give my business to a company that felt that way about their employees.

I was still thinking about the sign minutes later as I was forced to slow down due to the heavy volume of traffic ( 4th of July vacationers heading home?). I flashed back to when I owned Strawcastle Snax, a vending company in Williamsburg, Virginia. I had the good fortune of landing the vending machine account for the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. My machines were in the employee lounge, so I entered through the employee door on the side of the Brewery.

Over the door, in large bold letters was this sign:

THROUGH THESE DOORS PASS THE WORLD”S BEST BREW TEAM

Ok, it’s been over 20 years since I’ve seen the sign. The sign may have said “Greatest”. But the point is the same. Management considered their employees to be a very valuable asset. While servicing the account, I remember asking employees about the sign and how they were treated. They confirmed that the sentiment was real, just like the beer foam that washed across the production floor when they bottled Budweiser.

As a consumer, I would want to do business with companies that had this type of attitude towards employees. As a manager, there are so many advantages to this type of philosophy. Besides the obvious “golden rule” ideas, there are productivity gains from creating a work environment where employees feel valued.

Managers, I encourage you to look at how you view your employees. If you don’t work with “Heroes”, then you may have some work to do.

Management and Labor – Is there common Ground? 0

The IBEW sign usually says “Boycott so and so”. I generally don’t pay attention to their sign, we don’t have much common ground. I grew up management, not labor. Yet this morning’s message made me stop and look. After reading it, I found myself in full agreement with the IBEW

Coming from a Right-to-Work state over 20 years ago, my first encounter with labor unions was during the construction of a new building. As part of the management team that would occupy and use the building after its completion, I was on-site during the entire building process.  While the building did open on time, many differences of opinion threatened to delay the project.

The one I found most interesting had to do with the installation of the alarm system. Each individual fire door had its own contact point. The contacts had a battery backup. The electricians complained that the local alarm company, which was not represented by a union, should not be allowed to connect the batteries because it was “electricity” and electricity was their job.

The issue was finally resolved and the alarm company completed the job themselves. I admit I did find an opportunity to let the BA know my thoughts on the matter. The next day my pager battery went dead. Remember when pagers were a high-tech business tool? I brought my pager and a new battery to the BA and asked him to change it for me, as it was “electricity”.

Ok, so I shouldn’t have done that, it wasn’t professional. But as Forest Gump once said, “stupid is as stupid does”.

So why would I stop and take a picture of the IBEW’s sign? Because some things are just bigger than individual differences. Our country was founded on these differences and the right to express them freely. And our men and women in uniform defend that right on a daily basis. To them we both say “thank you”.

The IBEW’s sign made me see past the small to the big picture. It made me see that we have common ground.

A Fresh Approach To Leadership 2

Peter Drucker’s quote “Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things” is just a starting point for what a true leader can be. Here are three ways to lead:

  1. Don’t rely on too much data – Managers can spend time analyzing reports, doing studies, collecting data, but in the end the decision still must be made. Leaders don’t fill their heads to the point they can’t make a decision. They know when it’s time to take action.
  2. Don’t make excuses – There’s an old expression that goes something like this “you can make excuses, you can make money, but you can’t do both”. Successful leaders face the same problems the rest of us do. But their focus is on what needs to be done to “make money” where “making money” equates to achieving any goal or objective.
  3. “Know instead of Believe” – People believe a lot of things. We learn from our parents, friends, teachers and we come to believe certain things. Leaders find that they  ”know” things. It’s that feeling, something you can’t put your finger on. Leaders have it and pay attention to it. ( Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell covers this in great detail )

These three ideas are the starting point for a fresh way to look at leadership. As a leader, I’m sure you will add your own.   Please share your ideas for the rest of use, so we too can become leaders

As a Manager, why you should expect the unexpected 1

I never expected a Blue Bird

I was sitting on the deck, enjoying the sun and having a little lunch. When I finished, I picked up my plate, opened the screen door and walked into the kitchen. I was thinking about getting back to my writing when, looking to my left through the kitchen window, there it was. Sitting on the fence near my bird feeder was a blue bird.

I have lived in New Jersey for over 20 years and never seen a blue bird here. In fact, the only blue bird I have ever seen was at Gettysburg, Pa while we were on a horseback tour of the battlefields.  So to have one sitting on my fence for several minutes was completely out of the blue (no pun intended). This got me thinking about the unexpected and why we should be expecting it.

I should have expected to see a bird I hadn’t seen before. Several years ago I was in the living room when I heard a loud “bang” against that same kitchen window. Running into the kitchen I saw a somewhat dazed immature Bald Eagle sitting on the fence. It turns out he was hunting for lunch at my bird feeder and had swooped down on a sparrow, over shot the feeder and slammed into my window. I’m pretty sure the eagle was just as surprised about the situation as I was.

In business, managers need to anticipate and plan. This includes expecting the unexpected. It may be a power outage that closes your business unexpectedly. It could be a typo in your email advertising link that sends your potential customers to a less-than wholesome website instead of your landing page. Sometimes it’s an employee who doesn’t check that the projector is working before your presentation.

The more we expect the unexpected and check for the unexpected, the less unexpected we will have as managers.

Seven ways to take charge of your To Do List 9

So you want to be more organized and have a list of things to accomplish. Now what?

  1. Create your list at the end of your workday, before leaving the office (give yourself permission to plan your next day, you’ll sleep better and will arrive at work feeling organized)
  2. Budget 10 – 15 minutes for planning and solitude (make this a daily priority on your list; Without a plan, you are just busy, not effective)
  3. Rank your list (deadlines for projects, client calls to return, you know what’s most important)
  4. Do the task you ranked #1 first (this is soooo… hard when there is e-mail to look at, YouTube video to share The Tickle Me Plant and co-workers to talk with)
  5. Check your tasks off as you complete them (there is a certain satisfaction in completing a task and the act of checking it off causes the body to release positive endorphins. Occasionally, I will write something I did on the list, just so I can cross it off)
  6. As new items come up during the day, add them to the bottom of the list. You will rank them at the end of the day (KEEP ONE LIST. If I write a note on a little slip of paper, I carry it in my hand until I can write it on my list. When I put a note in my pocket, the odds of it ending up on my to-do list decrease exponentially)
  7. “Do first things first and second things not at all” – Peter Drucker (The point of a list is to focus your attention on the most important aspects of your job. When you cross off your number 1 item, number 2 becomes your new number one.)

Apply these seven techniques and you will find you have taken charge of your To Do List.

Pencil Whipping? Are you insane? 0

Are You Pencil Whipping Your Checklist?

INSANITY – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out different” Wikiquote

I’ve said more than once that Managers need to be organized, to have checklists for their day-to-day activities. Used properly, checklists allow a manager to inspect many different areas they oversee and then check off that they have looked at a specific task, project, deadline, etc.

Yet the danger of checklists is they can become routine. Managers can get busy with an employee, a customer, a supplier and spend vast amounts of time on one task.  Now it’s getting near quitting time, so out comes the checklist and; check, check, check and done. The checklist may be completed, but the tasks have not. If you are doing this day after day, you may be wondering why the checklist isn’t working and why the same results occur.

Make today the day you stop Pencil Whipping your checklist. Take the time to actually review each item you have listed. Stop making excuses for not doing the really important (and perhaps uncomfortable) parts of your job. Remember, you set up a checklist to remind (force) yourself to review certain things. They are on the list in the first place because of their importance to your success and the success of your company.

Join me as I renew my commitment to not pencil whipping my daily checklist. The outcome will be different, you’ll feel better and so will your employees.

Can driving sales be like hunting for natural resources on asteroids? 1

Are You Mining Asteroids?

Planetary Resources Inc – this new company backed by two Google billionaires, film director James Cameron and other space exploration proponents is aiming high in the hunt for natural resources—with mining asteroids the possible target.

While the announcement may cause some people to snicker at what could be a page out of a sci-fi novel or a Hollywood movie scene, Planetary Resources is making its debut just as scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other groups are embracing the notion of mining “near-Earth asteroids” and providing blueprints for how such a feat would be accomplished.

Closer to home, sometimes you can get into a rut. If sales are good and you have no major problems, it’s easy to get into the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it routine”. That’s how I felt all week. Then this morning I read that James Cameron wants to mine asteroids. OMG. All I wanted to do was increase comp sales by 5% over LY and increase net profit 2.5%.

Can you find a way to challenge yourself and your employees to think big?

So now I’m thinking  what can I do to create HUGE excitement in my business? How can I get my employees to be excited about driving sales, to be creative in their thinking, to want to “hunt for natural resources on asteroids”!

Thinking big is critical to a manager success.   Daniel H. Burnham -US architect & city planner (1846 – 1912) said “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood

What asteroid hunting plans can you create for yourself, your team and your company?