Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Business & Businesses

There's a reason I have a 5-year, million dollar plan. This isn't a in 5 years I'll have made a million, but rather within 5 years my company will be bringing in a minimum of a million that year. As I talk with friends about the companies they own, work for, or work with, I come to realize just how easily this task will be to work. The only part I am still hammering out is just how far I want the company to dig into business inefficiency.

I like blogging about business, because in 1-, 2-, 3-years down the road I can pull it up and take a peak at what I was thinking now, to see if I was under estimating the problem or to see if I stuck to the path I had already envisioned out. Maybe I'll create another blog just solely on the business process & where I'm at with that. Maybe I'll do that here later today even, copying this blog into it as the first official post.

I was chatting with a friend a couple nights ago about the company he works for, who I've done some work with on many fronts. He was asking me about some new policies that were put into place very quickly and not implemented over time like most. He was interested in my secret to accomplishing this, as change never moves that quickly. I explained not only the technical reasons on why the policies were put out there but the efficiency it offers over their old way of doing it. While he understood all that I was saying, he couldn't understand how easy it was for them to make the change, because in most businesses not only is change feared, it's usually slow to implement, and here in less than an hour, his company had a TON of change.

What can I say, I'm just that good. Now that I'm done stroking my ego, I'll share a small amount of why I'm that good.
  1. I have experience to back it up. I know what I'm doing, period. It doesn't matter if you're a software company, an insurance company, an accounting firm or a lawyer's office. I can walk in, see where you're efficiency is failing and ways you can turn it around.
  2. Once I see how your office is backwards, I can provide the financial incentive to make any owner/CEO/president suddenly think, "Change is AWESOME!".
Now, with point #2, don't think I go in there and pay them to change. They pay themselves to change. I just show them the approximate amount of money they save by just making a few changes: whether it be processes, software changes, computer hardware changes, or a combination of all of the above. When you tell a CEO that in this tight economy that I can save them approximately $200,000 a year without losing any staff, they sit up straight in their chairs and hang on every word coming out of my mouth. Plus they then are more than willing to give me a percentage of that to get that efficiency.

That's all the easy part. There's nothing in any of that process that makes me nervous to do it. The question is, however, how deep do I want to go. Do I keep it to technology, or do I go down the business management side of it as well. I hate to use the analogy of Office Space, but there are some really dumb management types out there. As such, the people that deal with them on a day-to-day basis don't understand or fail to see it. That's where a third wheel comes in, evaluates the business on a whole, the IT staff, the sales manager, the HR director, making sure that the company is running at it's peak capacity. Where the flaws are found, multiple solutions can be presented. Move inefficient manager A to department Z. Move efficient senior employee B to department D to turn it around and lead it to profitability. Sometimes those closest to the situation can't see the solution sitting right in front of them.

Each person has strengths and weaknesses. That's human nature. The question is, can that weakness be fixed or is it something permanent. If it's permanent, how can you work around it and make use of what that person is great at. That my friends, is what makes a great manager. The ability to make people succeed. Because in the grand scheme of business, a great manager can't be selfish. It's not about you, the manager. Your success comes when you're employees do great things. If you smother your employees and not allow them to succeed, you're working too hard at micromanaging. When you're salesmen bring in a monster quarter because you allowed them to do what they're good at, when you shuffled people around to get their strengths out there, delegated the projects and customers in a way that utilized every person to the peak of their potential, THAT is when you get your recognition. Because you're the boss, you enabled it. Senior management will see what you were able to perform and you will be rewarded as such.

"Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. "
-George S. Patton

To bring sports into it, a great leader or manager (yes, they are two different things; not every great leader can manage & not every great manager can lead but there are those who can lead & manage) is a quarterback. You can be the best QB ever, but if you don't have the right staff around you, who's going to catch your passes? Who's going to deflect the defense to allow you to create magic on the field? If you think you can do it all yourself you will fail and as such, you will not only be demoted to second string, your salary will suffer with it. Bring your teammates up and along with you, you will fly, breaking records, winning games and creating that nest egg that we all want financially. Most importantly, you'll keep teammates. No one wants to play with a selfish leader who can't complete passes and fumbles all the time.

That works the same in management. Employee turnover hurts the bottom line. Being an efficient department isn't easy when you're constantly training new people. But as a leader or a manager you must look into what is causing the turnover. There are usually 2 main reasons... A) You chose the wrong employee to hire or B) Your management style doesn't fit the people in place. As a manager, people sometimes have way too much pride in that they can't admit that they don't know how to deal with their people. That's where maybe you're a better leader, but a really crappy manager. That's OK, but you must own up to it, and your management or leadership must recognize this and utilize your strengths at the benefit to the company. If it's option A, well, then as a company you've got to sit down and look through why you're hiring the people you are. You know the old insanity joke.. the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result each time... Well, hiring the same type of people over and over again while expecting something different each time is, you guessed it, insanity.

There's a reason I have about 15 different management & leadership books, each by a different set of authors. Some are prize winning, some do seminars that sell out in each city, some are just the theory & psychology of business management and leadership. Mix that in with experience, common sense, & some business savvy thoughts, and you get me. Yes I've lead people, I've managed, hired and fired. I've had one person quit on me in all my years of a manager. ONE. While that looks like turnover, it was a calculated move on my part, getting him to quit as we did not have a firing policy at the time. With that, I was the highest requested manager to work for. Imagine that. Work hard for me, I've got your back. Slack off and I'll mentor you, find your strengths and make sure you do what you're good at so we all win. Sometimes I do agree that there are cases where you can't win, that employee is impossible to reach. Sometimes as a manager you have to admit to your mistakes and realize that keeping that person is a bad choice & thus showing them the door is the only way to go. That's not a bad thing. It helps keep you grounded.

I will end this long winded blog right about here. I only brushed the surface on a number of little things going through my head. I could take each paragraph and turn it into a blog about this size and help change businesses. At one point I probably will do just that, with a business blog. In the meantime, the overview of my company is set. There's far too many companies out there that fail, not for lack of a great idea, but for a lack of direction. It's time to provide them the compass.

For you managers, leaders, and management hopefuls.. remember, it's not going to be easy, you have to accept fault in yourself, you have to work hard and you have to do it in a way that gets results. Work smarter, not harder. Otherwise you could find yourself here instead.

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.
-Theodore Roosevelt

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