Tag Archive: employees

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!



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!

 



People Rule

July 4th, 2018

Why does Southwest Airlines outperform the competition by a long shot in employee turnover (7% vs. 25% industry average)?  People!

As our long-term readers know, we believe that people rule!  There is just no doubt about it – our most successful clients are similar to Southwest and JetBlue as it relates to people – executives view them as assets; not costs.  Instead of stifling creativity and success, they encourage it!

We have to imagine that no one sets out to stifle creativity when they leave for work in the morning (it sounds like a miserable existence) . Yet that is what we find in the vast majority of companies.  Sometimes, it is due to the rules and regulations that are supposed to protect threats.

For example, recently we received dismal service from a major bank.  Certainly, the employee helping us with the transactions meant no harm and wanted to help. However, her overriding need was to remain employed which meant following rules to the T….and beyond.  Taking zero risks while servicing customers is clearly celebrated and we felt the pain. Our account kept going on hold for no reason. Checks bounced. Silly requirements were communicated (we ‘the bank’ missed a space on this form and so you must jump through 10 hoops so we can get our paperwork in order). The list wents on. We went up the chain to no avail. We must follow the 10 hoops, avoid cracks on the sidewalk (reminded me of Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets), swim the English channel and more…

On the other hand, a business bank focused on service was able to navigate the same federal and state requirements remotely and immediately.  What was blamed on rules and regulations were clearly bank policies. Are you making your customers avoid the cracks in the sidewalk to work with you?  Or are you rolling out the red carpet? It didn’t cost more at one bank vs. the other, although we would have paid more by the time we went through the first few hoops.  

Do you care about what your customers care about or do you care about rules for the sake of rules? Or, put another way – do you care about the customer result or the process used along the way? (assuming no bad motivations)

Related statistics
According to Gallup, 85% of employees are not engaged at work.  Yet, companies with highly engaged workers outperform their peers by 147%.  

We have no doubt the employee at the large bank fell into the 85% category whereas the business bank is more likely in the 15%. We know the banker at the business bank will go over and beyond.  

Which employee would you rather have service you and your firm?

 



New York Scenes & the Importance of Your Viewpoint

April 2nd, 2018

The importance of viewpoint has arisen frequently in the last few weeks.  I spent the past weekend in an APICS (leading trade association for supply chain and operations professionals) train-the-trainer class. Certainly, your viewpoint as a trainer is quite different than as an audience member which was also quite different from the master instructor of the trainers.  Also, about a week ago, I was in New York in a professional development session, and the importance of different viewpoints arose during the seminar as well as with the surroundings….

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the seminar was within 24 hours of the view from our restaurant in Chinatown – notice a bit of a difference not only in the obvious weather difference but also in the frame of reference? Are you paying attention to your frame of reference (view) into your work issues?

One tip to implement this week:
I’ve heard many employees of my clients complain about colleagues – and a few sing their praises. More often than not, when I talk with and/or observe the work of the object of the conversation, I find that it is completely related to the frame of reference. Are they talking with angry customers?  Are they dealing with a manager with a different priority? Did they have a fender bender on their way to work? Are they looking at it from a strategy point-of-view (like the skyscraper picture) or from the trenches (Chinatown). What is their frame of reference?

Being aware of your frame of reference is a great place to start. Once you keep your own frame of reference in mind, start thinking about your colleague’s frame of reference.  It could put you into an entirely different conversation. In the train-the-trainer class, we filled out a survey on how we would help people by giving directions to a restaurant, how we would communicate a new recipe, etc. The idea was that we’d better understand our style.  In my case – and another participant who works with clients on a daily basis – our conclusion came out the opposite of what we’d prefer.  Because?  The question that was asked was what we would do for the person requesting directions. We put ourselves in their frame of reference (and so didn’t get the intended results from the exercise).  

Being aware of your frame of reference and start from there.



Hello Dolly and Turning the Mundane into Magnificent

March 25th, 2018

I had the opportunity to catch Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber in Hello Dolly on Broadway while in New York, and it was fabulous!  Bernadette is “made for the part” (although I see the perfect fit for Bette Midler as well). Imagine how a musical that debuted in 1964 with FOUR Broadway revivals and international success remains wildly popular…..  

 

 

Hello Dolly certainly turned the mundane into the magnificent!  A strong-willed matchmaker and widower (Dolly) travels to Yonkers to find a wife for an ordinary yet half-a-millionaire local merchant (Mr. Vandergelder), and adventures ensue.  Actually, all the previously ordinary people surrounding the miserly Mr. Vandergelder get swept up into Dolly’s adventures. Great fun!

One tip to implement this week:
Are you turning the mundane into the magnificent?  Why lead a humdrum existence on a daily basis? Instead, search for opportunities to turn your everyday interactions into exciting and profitable opportunities!  Profitable doesn’t have to mean financial returns; consider your engagement and interest in what you do on a daily basis – don’t you think where you spend 8 hours a day (or more!) should be interesting?!?  Why not consider your customer as well – if you can deliver extra value and create a happy customer, isn’t that a profitable experience for you?

Executives and owners, search for ways to empower and engage your employees.  That alone will dramatically improve their interest in performing daily job functions.  Do you put thought into this? What could be more important for retention in an age of a significant skills gap shortage?

NO MATTER your position, DON’T let go of your responsibility for turning the mundane into magnificent.  It is yours alone. Look for ways to bring new ideas to the table. Be creative. Ask your colleagues to participate in finding ways to make the work more interesting – and impactful.  Pick just one item and move it forward. No matter how far it moves forward, you are closer to magnificent.

Dolly never gave up. Instead, she came up with a new idea – or scheme. What about you?