Take Your Business Back!

I often hear from managers that employees have more power than their bosses. Studies have shown that the majority of workers in North America do not want to move into a management role. The current trend toward servant leadership and participative management has created a lot of very good results, but in many cases it has also created chaos, poor morale and reduced performance.

In the nineteen-fifties and prior, we witnessed command and control management styles in most businesses and Government service sectors. That method of leadership allowed manipulation, oppression and in some cases, outright cruelty to employees in the workplace.

Workers were threatened and intimidated in the name of better performance standards. Although command and control worked in its own way, it led to dissension, distrust of management and employee rebellion. Ultimately, it gave greater power to unions and paved the way for the servant leadership style that most leaders either espouse or give lip-service to in the twenty-first century.

The trend toward what I call, soft-servant-leadership is beginning to erode the ability of North American business to perform effectively. It is at least partially responsible for the lack of discipline that led to the recent American banking industry collapse and it is usually the root of cause of poor performance in any industry or public sector. When there are no apparent consequences, chaos is allowed to rule. The elimination command and control as been replaced by some new phenomena:

IN THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY MANY ORGANIZATIONS OPERATE UNDER ONE OR MORE OF THESE CONDITIONS:

  • request followed by refusal
  • guidance followed by defiance
  • rules broken without consequence
  • leadership scorned or disregarded
  • poor performance rewarded or nurtured
  • bad attitudes ignored or avoided
  • management afraid of employees
  • insolence, tardiness, absenteeism, and laziness tolerated

(If you don’t see your favourite one on the list, please feel free to add it.)

Now is the time to take your business back! Now is the time to start a LEADERSHIP REVOLUTION and build organizations that will be able to withstand the onslaught of the financial recession and economic hardship that will continue well into the twenty-first century.

We cannot continue to be productive if we do not begin to hold our employees accountable for the work they do. I am not suggesting that we go back to the command and control management style of the fifties… I am suggesting that we temper servant leadership with effective accountability.

Leadership should not be about settling for less!

Leadership should be a combination of our currently understood principles of servant leadership tempered or fused with firmness, accountability and a respect for hierarchy.

We often compare the running of a business with coaching a team or commanding an army.

When we make those comparisons however, we seem to forget that on a basketball team, if a player is insolent, disobedient or plays badly, he is benched or sent to the showers. The coach takes control and makes hard decisions for the betterment of his team. In the case of the military, if a soldier is insolent, disobedient or AWOL he is disciplined, court-marshalled, or jailed. In both cases, the performance of the entire team is placed in the paramount position and individual team members understand that they must do exactly as their leader instructs them or suffer the consequences. They know that their leader is in control and that his or her decisions are the best for the team.

You will probably never hear any suggestion that a tough but successful basketball coach is cruel or unfair, just as there is seldom any thought that a field commander is doing anything but the right thing when he brings a coward, a deserter or a mutineer up on charges. Hierarchy has worked amongst groups of human beings in mutual endeavours for eons and it will work in the twenty first century.

Please do not misunderstand me. I know that basketball teams and armies have different dynamics than industry, business or the public sector. With that in mind, we must accept that modern leaders cannot lead through intimidation, threats, unfair discipline, anger, rudeness or punishment.

If modern leaders want to be successful, they must retain control and generate maximum performance through strength and firmness while holding their employees accountable for their work. There must be measures in place that will allow leaders to exercise their control over their employees for the betterment and integrity of the team. Employees must understand that if they are not able to follow the fair and simple rules of their positions or are not able to show ordinary respect through things like consistently showing up on time, they will be held accountable and may be disciplined or terminated.

Leaders need not set up an adversarial relationship with employee groups. If they simply outline fair and reasonable expectations to their people and gain their agreement, they will be able act responsibly in the future with little fear of criticism or discord. When employees understand the rules and those rules are monitored fairly and consistently, everyone benefits and everyone wins!

Communication and courage are the keys!

Let’s start a LEADERSHIP REVOLUTION! Let’s stop being afraid of our employees! Let’s stop settling for less! Let’s take our businesses back!

All the Best!

Wayne Kehl

Why You Need A Map? – How To Get Your Business Back On Track In Uncertain Times!

Do You Have A Map?

Have you ever been traveling and all of the sudden your GPS goes offline, it goes off line and just that quickly you really have no idea what to do next, and you don’t know which direction you should be driving? That is a very frustrating experience and unfortunately it reminds me of something that happens to businesses every day. Something changes, and all of the sudden you don’t know what to do next. The conditions are not the same, the economy is not quite as vibrant, customers are looking for something new, and something different, and you may not be sure how your business fits in, or you may not know what to do next. The old way isn’t working, and you are not quite sure what the new way should look like. You feel like yesterday doing business made sense, you understood what to do next, and now you are not quite sure. It is the same thing that happens when the GPS goes offline, and you are in a new place.

Can you imagine what would happen if as soon as your GPS went down you had a map with some back-up instructions? Not only would that be nice that would be incredibly comforting, as well. Every business should have a map, and if you don’t have one, here are some steps to start making one. This is the first step in the strategic planning sessions I do with my clients.

Step One. Take a look at what is changed. Every business owner needs to take a close look at what has changed in their business and their industry before they can make any changes. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to make a boatload of changes to the way you do business if the changes that you are experiencing are temporary. There are factors that must be considered before any change is made. Is what is happening a once in a lifetime experience or is this the new normal and now you need to learn how to live with it? You have to know the answer to that question before you can do anything else.

Step Two. Make An Honest Review. There are times in our businesses when we saw the handwriting on the wall, and we just didn’t respond the way we needed to, and this is why things have slowed down. For instance, have you adapted well to change as an organization, or did you ignore things until that was no longer an option. You need to understand what you did well and what you did poorly, so you can learn from both your successes and your failures.

Step Three. Decide What You Are Willing To Do To Turn Things Around. As a business owner, you must count the cost. You don’t want to get into the middle of a project and decide that it is too expensive to move forward or that you don’t want to fix the problems that your business is experiencing because you really don’t have the energy that it is going to take to move forward. Ask yourself how far you are willing to go in order to solve the problems you are experiencing. If you are not heavily invested, don’t enter into any long term or costly solutions, so you don’t end up wasting money. Decide up front what you are willing to do, set a budget and a time frame so you can look at solutions that fit your requirements.

Step Four. Find The Right Next Steps. Now that, you have looked at the other pieces, decide what outcomes you are looking for and then find solutions that work with your budget, your time, and your skill set. This process will allow you to figure out where you want to go and how you are going to get there. Similar to a map, this will help you take a close look at your options and carefully weed out those that don’t meet your requirements. This is a tool you can use to keep you on task, and it will protect you from the shiny new thing syndrome that can capture your attention when we are solving problems. Focus on what will help your business the most and move in that direction armed with great information, and a plan that will help you get where you want to go.

You need a plan, or a map when conditions change so you can make the necessary changes quickly. When you are working on solutions you need to know what direction you should go in, and you need to consider all of the factors. Business changes are normal in our global economy, and you want to be prepared and as flexible as possible, to make sure your business not only survives, but also thrives in the years to come.

From Red To Black – Black Friday And Cyber Monday Bring Businesses Back

Retailers, shopaholics, and Web surfers unite every year for their trip to mecca: the paradise that awaits is a celebration known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The days commence the frenzy of online and offline shopping that will shift businesses profitability through to Christmas.

Historically the two busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday fall on the Thursday after Thanksgiving and the following Monday, respectively. These two days pack the most punch into retailers’ pockets around the globe, and put the biggest bang for the buck into shoppers’ bags.

Black Friday became known as such because it’s the day brick-and-mortar retailers often go from being unprofitable or “in the red,” to back in the black. Cyber Monday, a technical spillover of Black Friday was named more recently in the 21st century when it was discovered that many hungry virtual shoppers skipped the malls and shopped in the comfort of their own cozy offices, bringing online businesses back to black. In addition, many holiday revelers return to work o n Monday but are inclined to take an extended vacation by shopping online on company time.

A pivotal weekend for e-commerce sites, in recent years Black Friday and Cyber Monday have earned the title of the biggest online spending days in the year. Some will say that Cyber Monday isn’t as profitable as Black Friday, and some will say Black Friday should be called Green Friday; but the proof is in the pennies of virtual cash registers.

Indeed, in 2006 Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day on record according to comScore Networks, an e-commerce tracking firm. Cyber-happy shoppers spent $485 million on Cyber Monday in 2006. Likewise, comScore Networks also reports that Black Friday profits last year reached a close $430 million.

In another online market, e-card season is about to flourish, too. As holiday revelers gear up, American Greetings offers a convenient reminder service for sending out Christmas e-cards. Users can set up the service and schedule delivery dates. By tackling this task during other Cyber Monday activities, users can take multi-tasking and organization to a whole new level.

Online retailers generally endorse this crucial shopping season with special promotions that add to the shoppers’ anticipation. Online and offline shoppers can expect awesome price discounts, free shipping, “doorbuster” sales and incentive prizes. Adding to the anticipation, most retailers don’t announce their specials until special Black Friday ads circulate in the Thanksgiving Day newspapers and mail lists online.

Retail trends show that most people are as dedicated to the onslaught of holiday shopping as they are to the actual holiday of Thanksgiving. The potential for increased revenue, brand awareness and holiday sales profitability is endless. Driving the boost in profits in 2007, at least 40% of adults are reporting they plan to do all of their holiday shopping online this year. According to ForeSee Results, an online customer satisfaction and measurement company, online retailers can do two things to guarantee success this cyber-season:

1. Be sure to manage and meet customer expectations. Follow through with online-only discounts and free or discount shopping options. ForeSee’s 2006 studies showed that customers were disappointed last year because they didn’t get the free shipping or price discounts they expected. Research also showed that transactional costs, not product costs are the actual source of dissatisfaction.

2. Be aware of the impact your website has on multichannel operations, i.e. understand the impact that your website has on brand and overall profitability during not only the holiday shopping season, but also on overall sales.

For Black Friday:

  1. Eat plenty of carbs on Thanksgiving. Tryptophan will slow you down on the big day, so pass on the turkey and get a second helping of mashed potatoes.
  2. Pack a lunch. Efficiency is the key. If you need to stop to eat, you may miss out on that hot item that your loved one is dying for.
  3. Call for reinforcement. Send an American Greetings e-card invitation to all your friends to meet up together. Then, dole out your shopping lists together for a “divide and conquer” strategy.
  4. Get a good night’s sleep. If you want to take advantage of the “early bird” deals, then you’ll need to wake up at the crack of dawn and hit the stores.
  5. Make sure you have a full tank of gas. To find the best deals, you may have to drive from store to store and you won’t want to waste precious moments filling up.

For Cyber Monday:

  1. Build hand strength. Get those fingers in shape for the multiple click-thrus, filling out of forms, and shopping comparison you will be undertaking. Do some strength training and schedule a massage for the following day.
  2. Get your list down now. Preferably, this should be in Word format so you can click back and forth between views to get everything accomplished.
  3. Bookmark all your shopping sites now. The less surfing, the less time wasted. Do the research today to save you some time on Cyber Monday. While you’re online, note the animated Christmas e-cards you want to send to friends this season.
  4. If you have to work on Monday, then pack a lunch and use your lunch hour to start shopping.
  5. Use a designated credit card for online shopping only. That way if anything questionable occurs with your account, you can track purchases back to a single card.