Is this a misperception in your business?
We are well underway in 2016 and we have already been buffeted by strong winds of change; The change in the level of interest rates and the portent for the future, The return to a reduced level of GDP growth in China, The tumultuous ride we have been on with the price of oil, The geopolitical landscape changes, And of course our political season is in full swing.
How are you doing so far? Are you a victim to these circumstances or are you able to continue to develop and drive your businesses to their full potential? This is the ongoing question isn’t it? Are we working in the business or on the business?
Early in my career, when I first was involved in supervision of other people, I became much more aware of the management task of leadership. As an employee it looks rather easy, or at least it did to me. But then the first morning that I arrived at work with a team of people to supervise I wondered about it. What am I supposed to do? Of course that was the first problem wasn’t it? I was not given any direction or guidance of what to do.
In teaching there is an old adage; Show – tell – Show – Try. You show the prospective employee their job or the job function, then you talk about it and then they try it. It would have been helpful had I had some direction.
How do you do with your parts departments and service departments? Do you review with them where things stand and what needs to be done and ask for their input on the job and the business? How much do you share with them on a regular basis?
Those of you who have read this column over the years know that I believe in engaging each and every employee in everything that we do. I believe that the person doing the job is the one that knows the job best. So I want to reach out and engage them in how we are doing and how we could be better. You see that is the crux of the matter. We need to be constantly striving to be better at what we do.
We need to be better to satisfy our customers as they are confronted with change in their businesses just as much as we are in ours. We need to improve to help our vendors and suppliers. They are dependent for their success on us. And we need to be better for ourselves. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of routines and continuing to do what we have always done.
To that end there are a couple of standard methods or options for you to follow.
The Daily Huddle.
One of my clients has an informal get together every morning before opening of all employees. They discuss anything going on in the business. Specials or process improvements or visits by guests of customers or suppliers. They talk about how they are doing compared to their goals. They discuss any special personal issues like birthdays or anniversaries or new births etc.. It is a wonderful gentle discussion that takes between five and ten minutes. Then they take a few moments with one of the team leading the group in some stretching exercises. Nothing strenuous just a nice interlude of doing some exercise together as a group. Then they start their day. How does that sound to you? Do you do anything like this? Try it. It is fun and it is productive and it helps create the culture of your department and company. It makes everyone better.
During the course of the day or week or month we come to a decision. Something isn’t right or there is something that doesn’t seem to satisfy the needs. That is when it truly helps to engage everyone in the process. There is also a structure for Process Improvement and Goal Setting that is helpful. That process involves three basic elements; Understanding, Acceptance and Commitment.
Personnel: In the pursuit of performance every manager and supervisor must ensure that they have the right people on the team. What some people call “having the right people on the bus.” Involving everyone in the process of decision making allows every individual to develop according to their potential and also the needs of the group. People will rise to the occasion and if they don’t that is another discussion.
Revenue: Sales growth is difficult at the best of times and in these turbulent times it becomes even more a concern. Again. Engaging everyone in this discussion improves the outcomes dramatically. If your sales are struggling it is time to reevaluate your market and your approach to it. Are you selling the right things to the right people? Are you in a growing market share or declining market share or stagnant market share environment? This another critical step in your success as a leader.
Implementation: The true result of good leadership is the ability to implement. Following our three step approach we improve the probability of success by allowing, in fact demanding, that we have vigorous debate on our goals and objectives. Everyone should be able to get involved and challenge what we are trying to accomplish. Only by allowing these debates to happen will we truly get a commitment on the part of every employee. This to me is an extremely critical element of leadership.
Budgets and Working Capital: The need of every individual, department and business is to have a keen understanding of money. Too often the “working front line” who I call your heroes are left in the dark regarding money. Sure, you might share the financial statements on a monthly basis but it is much more than that isn’t it? It is important that everyone in their jobs have some fun, be effective in what they do, and make money. Each employee needs to know how their actions affect the budgets and sales revenues and expenses. This is a training exercise as much as anything else but I believe that each employee needs to know everything possible about the business. After all they have more invested in the success of the company than anyone else. They have invested their lives.
So we have a series of activities that lead to successful results; “Daily Huddles” and “Process Improvement” and “Goal Setting” processes. Each of these three elements will help you be working ON the business more than you do today. Each of these will lead to a stronger morale and higher levels of employee satisfaction. Isn’t that all good?
The time is now.
by Ron Slee
Water Well Journal
About Water Well Journal
The Water Well Journal is the leading resource for those working in the groundwater industry. The flagship publication of the National Ground Water Association is delivered to more than 24,000 people every month and covers technical issues related to drilling and pump installation, rig maintenance, business management, well rehabilitation, water treatment, and more.
Since many of the companies in the groundwater industry are small family-run businesses it is critical that Water Well Journal provide much more than technical content. That is why Ron Slee’s monthly columns addressing management, supply, and inventory issues are valuable. It is that type of information that helps the publication achieve NGWA’s mission of advancing groundwater knowledge.