Tag Archive: colleagues

The Beauty of the World & Why It Relates to Work

June 5th, 2019

This is the Piazza IX Aprile in Taormina, Sicily, which is a square known for the breathtaking view of the azure Ionian Sea and of the Mount Etna. I adored this night view from a nearby rooftop (of course while sipping limoncello, an Italian lemon liquor known in Southern Italy).

I came to Sicily to meet my strategy group.  We had some excellent sessions.  However, that isn’t the tie that I refer to in the title of this blog. Seeing the world absolutely relates to business. Of course, this would be done ideally in person but you can also absorb quite a bit watching TV or by reading magazines. Understanding different cultures, business customs and what’s relevant to a country or area will come in handy. We live in an interconnected world with customers, suppliers and other trusted partners throughout the world. I cannot think of a client that doesn’t have a material that originates in another country somewhere down-the-supply chain or one that sells to other countries at least somewhere up-the-supply chain. Can you?

Understanding what is important to your customers, suppliers, employees (as they also come from around the world or have related interests) or colleagues is quite relevant to bottom line business results.

One tip to implement this week:
Why not ask your top customer, supplier, employee or colleague about what is important? You could ask about materials relevant to your supply base. Undoubtedly, you’ll find out about something relevant or interesting to build a stronger relationship at a minimum. You could ask your customers about where they sell your product or how it is perceived in another country, etc.? Of course, your question will relate to what type of product or service you provide, so you should make it relevant to your business.

And, lastly, why not talk bring the topic up with your employees and colleagues. You might find that they have customs that are important to them or something quite relevant to doing business in that country or area. Just by posting pictures on Facebook, I found quite a few contacts who love Taormina. Who knows what will happen when I ask them about it!



Holiday Cards & the Personal Touch

January 2nd, 2019

Certainly when it comes to what I’ve really been thinking, there is no doubt  that “holiday cards” are on my mind!  It has actually become somewhat funny. I have a bit of an assembly line going with Outlook updates (it makes no sense to send cards to old addresses or to miss new clients!), envelopes, stamps (both domestic and international), adding a personal note, and for a few groups, inserting a relevant brochure or letter.  And my mom’s envelopes were thrown in for good measure to lend a helping hand.

There have definitely been days (even before I started) when I wondered whether it is worth it. What I have always thought is if I couldn’t personalize the card, I wouldn’t send it. With that said, I think there is something to be said for the personal touch so I carry on!  Who doesn’t appreciate the personal touch? I often find myself at Olive Garden for lunch, sitting at the bar and working on my laptop. They usually bring my order without me saying a word. The other day, the manager bought my lunch and just had the server tell me it was taken care of. Nice personal touch!  Do you add a personal touch now and then?

One tip to implement this week:
It is quite easy to add a personal touch. It isn’t common or expected and it isn’t rocket science. Think about one of your colleagues. What does he/she appreciate?  Do NOT think about what you would like if you were this colleague. It is unlikely to be the same answer. I learned that lesson quite a long time ago when I was a VP of Operations. I couldn’t understand why a direct report would do the things she was doing. It made no sense to me.  If I asked, she answered 100% opposite of what was happening but believed what she said. It turns out that my best friend helped me understand what no business book could – this person had a different reality and saw things in her version of reality. If I wanted to provide a personal touch in her case, I’d have to transform my thinking into her reality.  

Fast forward to earlier this year….   I had to laugh because I took a test for a train-the-trainer class, and my answers (to what turned out to be a personality test of how I like to work) came out very different from my preferences. No one told me to answer the test for me. I answered the questions how I assume most clients would prefer! Strangely, the other consultant in the room did the same thing!  Go Valerie!

The good news is ….it isn’t typically that hard. People are happy to tell you what is important to them and it is easy to pick it up on it by what they do and say.  For example, if one of your employees values task completion and hard work, don’t recognize them by giving them time off. Instead, recognize the significant accomplishment with a specific comment that shows you understand what was required to achieve it.  



The Importance of Continual Learning

September 18th, 2018

Recently, we updated our website.  It prompted a lot of thinking about many aspects of business.  One is the importance of continual learning.  As you’ll see on our Continual Learning webpage, it is a priority.  With that said, I’ve noticed that the most successful people (clients, colleagues, fellow Board members etc.) have continual learning in common.  There is definitely something behind this trend!  It reminds me of one of our LMA Advocate winners, Valerie Ladd – her continual learning is quite impressive.  She never stops learning – and all with a positive attitude to boot.

 

 

 

 

When thinking about continual learning for LMA Consulting, we focus on three categories:

1) Future trends in business, the economy, the industry, our area of expertise etc.
2) Technology trends & disruptors
3) Local & global trends.

What are you learning?

One tip to implement this week:
There are countless ways to add or expand on your continual learning.  Instead of getting stuck in a sea of possibilities, just choose one or two and start there.  Don’t worry if they are the best ones or will provide the greatest benefit.  Just start!  Waiting for perfection is a LONG road….your competition will certainly pass you by.

With that said, if you’d like some ideas of where to go for continual learning, here are several that pop to mind:
1) Ask your mentor.
2) Talk with colleagues and ask what they are learning – or ask to learn more about their role and challenges.
3) Go to a trade association meeting.  For example, APICS Inland Empire provides programs, symposiums, tours and education to provide value to manufacturing and distribution professionals.
4) Go to an alumni meeting.
5) Attend a local chamber or business club.
6) Read the news, magazines and blogs related to your field.
7) Call a customer or supplier.
8) Join a mastermind.
9) Call a former colleague or manager.
10)  Attend a tradeshow.

What are you going to do?



Miniature Office Golf & a Pathway to Know, Like & Trust

September 14th, 2018

I attended a ProVisors social of miniature office golf last week.  We had great fun (thanks to James Valmonte and Kit Mac Nee for arranging such a great social).  As you’ll see, there was much creativity in setting up golf holes in an office setting.  I liked the hazards – especially the water holes! Although I can hang in there with scramble golf, I didn’t fare as well with mini office golf.  But who can complain about winning a  booby prize?

Regardless of golf skills, it was enjoyable.  It is also a great way to get to know colleagues better.  People do business, partner on projects and contribute to success of those they know, like and trust.  It happened while we were playing golf – a business referral transpired. When have you thought about getting to know, like and trust your colleagues, customers and /or suppliers?

One tip to implement this week:
You don’t have to be as creative as designing an indoor miniature golf event, but why not think about how to get to know, like and trust your colleagues, customers and suppliers better?  It is a progression. Clearly, you cannot like someone if you don’t know them.  And, you are unlikely to trust them if you don’t like them. Start at the beginning and think about ways you can really get to know your colleagues.  

Ask questions and listen.  Pay attention and take notes.  Have you noticed how you feel good when someone is taking notes on what you have to say?  

Next look for ways to create the situation such that you’ll develop a ‘like’ for your colleagues.  Miniature office golf is a silly activity that is entertaining.  Yet, it helps to facilitate the process of getting to know one another and ‘like’ each other.  There are also countless things you can do to improve your likeability. Start by thinking about the other person. Make it “all about them” and you are likely to be the star.  Brainstorm at least 3 ways and try one to start. See how it goes and modify as you go.

What do you plan on doing?  Let us know how it goes.

 



Gaining New Ideas to Increase Business Value

August 8th, 2018

Every executive we work with is interested in increasing the value of the business.  Whether a small closely-held business with an owner who might want to sell the business or exit with an ESOP, a private-equity backed company aiming to achieve the ideal exit strategy per the private equity agreement or a large, complex organization working to increase shareholder value, increasing the value of the business remains a unanimous top priority.

Understanding this objective is quite different from fulfilling it.  There is a reason the most successful businesses have teams of people rather than one person who has to come up with every idea – it is certainly more sustainable!  

So, how can we encourage these ideas? Here are several ways that we’ve seen success achieved consistently over 25+ years in both the corporate and the consulting world with manufacturers and distributors.

  1. Engage your employees – Definitely one of the “easier said than done” items; however, it is also one of the most consistently successful.  As the Gallop polls show, those companies with a higher percentage of engaged employees significantly outperform the rest.
  2. Involve your customers – Who can better than your customers to generate ideas that will ensure a superior customer experience while increasing the value of the company?  Don’t just go to your top 10 customers in volume. Think about your long-term customers. It can also be worth it to collaborate with customers on the brink of being an unprofitable and prompt ideas to turn it around or end the relationship on a “good note”.  You never know what might happen. We’ve seen dramatic turnarounds, just as often as we’ve seen the rest of the company improve when getting rid of the “rotten apple customer”.
  3. Collaborate with your suppliers – Aside from your customers, who else might have a substantial impact on your performance?  Your suppliers! If you can devise new win-win approaches together, imagine the possibilities.  For example, when I was a VP of Operations and Supply Chain for a mid-market manufacturer, we collaborated with suppliers to develop a new material so that we could reduce our usage (increasing our profit) and provide a benefit to our customers (better performance/ higher value for them).  We became a closer partner with our supplier and grew each of our businesses and profits while enhancing the value to our mutual customer. A win-win-win.
  4. Ask colleagues outside of your area of expertise – Just because your colleague is in a different function doesn’t mean he/she won’t have a great idea.  Take the time to explain an important project to related colleagues outside of the project or your area of expertise.   Ask for their thoughts, watch-outs and the like. You never know where the next great idea will come from.
  5. Consult with experts / advisors – Attend trade association meetings.  Dig into industry journals. Ask questions of LinkedIn groups. Pursue alumni colleagues.  Consult with an advisor, consultant or financial expert. Join a peer group.  

There is no doubt that the most successful executives utilize all of these techniques to make sure they generate a seemingly never-ending stream of ideas to increase the value of their business.  Set aside time on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to priorities these activities.  Do not expect an immediate payoff.  However, if you are consistent, you’ll find success one day down-the-road.  After all, it may only that one idea to make a significant impact!