Posts Tagged ‘management’

Why Ask … if You’re Not Going to Listen

American television and radio host, Larry King, once stated: “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So, if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” The problem I see with most people in management these days, is they have forgotten how to listen. It’s as if, now that they have power over people, they’ve decided there is only one way to do things, THEIR WAY. Yes, there is only one way to do things, the RIGHT WAY … and the only way to find that way … is to listen to the people who are involved in doing it every day.

Walmart has over 11,000 locations, 2.3 million employees and did over $482.13 billion in sales last year. Their founder, Sam Walton, once stated : “The key to success is to get out into the store and listen to what the associates have to say. It’s terribly important for everyone to get involved. Our best ideas come from clerks and stock boys.” Most managers aren’t great listeners, and because that is the case, they will always remain ordinary leaders. The captains of industry understand that listening is the most valuable of leadership skills. The only way to identify problems and opportunities is to listen. We all should take note that our ears will never get us in trouble ; not only will they not get us in trouble, they will also help keep us out of trouble.

The Schwinn bicycle company was founded in 1895. By the 1950’s they totally dominated the bicycle market, but because of their leader’s management style, that was soon not to be the case. Edward Schwinn, the CEO in the mid 1980’s made it clear to everyone, that he did not like to be contradicted. He personally believed that mountain bikes were a passing fad and therefore, argued against putting any investment into advancing the mountain bike category. One senior executive with the company, totally disagreed with Mr. Schwinn’s reasoning during a strategic management meeting. Mr. Schwinn adjourned the meeting and told everyone that they would reconvene in two weeks for further discussion on the subject. During the two-week break, Mr. Schwinn fired the senior executive who disagreed with him. When they reconvened two weeks later, did any one of the remaining senior executives speak out against Mr. Schwinn’s reasoning? NOPE! … which turned out to be a catastrophic mistake. Schwinn went bankrupt and is now owned by a Chinese firm who wanted the brand name.

There is no reason to have a meeting if you are not going to listen to the suggestions of the people in the room; it is a total waste of time and frustrating to everyone attending the meeting. I have also found, in most cases, that the size of a person’s ego and ears(listening) are directly related … the larger the ego the smaller the ears. Great managers/leaders surround themselves with talent and then listen to what they have to say. There is an old Turkish proverb that states: “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”

Listening - LinkedIn

What Makes You Stand Out ?

When I deal with the sales team of any organization, there is one specific question I like to ask that will tell me how skilled the salesperson is and how good their sales training has been. I ask the question in a private setting, just the two of us. Here is the question:

“I have spoken to your top three competitors and they have told me

why I should do business with them.

I would like to know why I should do business with you.

I want you to give me a two minute commercial on what makes

your company better than your competitors.”

You would be amazed how many times I get AWFUL answers to that question. I think it would be advisable for all companies to spend some time thinking about and answering the following questions:

  • What’s Your Competitive Advantage?
  • What Are Several Ways Your Customer Service Stands Out?
  • Are There Ways You Can Sell Value Instead of Selling Price?
  • What Makes You Special?
  • What Will Make Your Clients Tell Their Friends About You?
  • How Can You Deliver More Than You Promised Your Client?
  • Is There Anything You Do Better Than Your Competition?

You can take those 7 questions and roll them all into one: What differentiates you from your competitors? For example: There is a financial planner who has each client’s car detailed while he is conducting their annual review. There is a realtor who has an enormous lunch delivered to her clients when they move into the house they bought from her on their move-in date. There is a remodeling contractor who has his employees clean up the worksite every day to show the respect they have for the client’s home. He gives out a giant “ShopVac” to each client when he is done with the job, to reinforce that message. Would a plumber who put booties over his shoes before entering your house impress you? It sure impressed me. What could you do that would make you “stand out” from your competition?

Zebra - Stand Out

Spending Other People’s Money

I just completed a program in Las Vegas and I thought I would share with you a few of the reasons why my client was disgusted with the entire convention staff at the hotel. My client and I were talking about the audio/video set-up the night before my engagement, and what changes that needed to be made to help get the maximum benefit out of my program. He told me that working with this hotel had been a very painful experience. He said he had to go over everything in detail, because at every turn they were, in his words, sticking it to him, every chance they got … to increase his bill. In the hotel’s audio/video proposal, he found over $70,000 (that’s not a misprint – it was $70,000) of unnecessary charges that he had taken out, and in his words, again … they fought me every step of the way.”

This was no small hotel off the strip … this is one of the big boys, which has developed an enormous arrogant attitude. Not one time did he feel they were trying to help him, in anyway, save money. They even told him he had to pay for security to protect the audio/video and stage set-up that was going to be used the next day; it was the hotel’s set-up and he had to pay to protect it. He stated he would hire his own security company to “protect” it for half the price they were charging, and they said there would be a management fee charged on top of what he paid the security company. (that was in the small print of the contract) Everywhere he turned they were sucking him dry, trying to get every penny they could out of him.

Then, I heard the words from my client that didn’t surprise me at all … “We aren’t ever coming back here.” He said there are a lot of places he can go where they will happily spend his million dollar plus budget … with hopefully, more “respect for his money.”

A sure way to turn a client against you is to show no concern about the amount of money they are spending with you. I personally feel that when you are dealing with a customer, you should treat the money in their budget just like it is “your own money” and do everything you can to stretch it as far as you can. When the client finds that you are truly looking out for their best interest … you will have a client for life.

Companies who feel there are no consequences for how they spend “other people’s money” are sadly mistaken. Actions have consequences …

squeezing cents

Passion is Powerful

A few months ago I had the pleasure of working with Germania Insurance (based in Texas) at their annual sales conference with all their independent agents attending. The night before, at dinner, I had the opportunity to talk to several of their agents. I was fortunate to sit at the table with Matt & Kara Sodolak. (Matt is the insurance agent, and his wife Kara is in banking) I use the word “fortunate” because, I was about to witness what I would best describe as TRUE PASSION for your profession. 

I asked a question of Matt that I have asked countless times …“How do you like being in the insurance business?”  His response surprised me. Without any hesitation he said, “I love it. It’s my job for life.” In all my years of interviewing people, I have never had anyone say this is my “job for life.” The passion, sincerity and conviction in his voice just knocked me over. He sat forward in his chair and followed his statement with, “I love helping people and I get to do it every day.”  There was NO DOUBT in my mind the passion Matt felt for his job, career and the company he worked for. I felt that anyone who had Matt as their agent was so fortunate. He never mentioned commissions … he talked the whole time about protecting his clients and how people counted on him to make sure they had the proper coverage in case something disastrous happened.

Unfortunately, something disastrous did happen; Texas has been slammed this year with enormous floods destroying millions of dollars in property and causing havoc to people’s lives. I heard from Matt last week and he shared a quick story about one of the people who works in their claims department. He wrote:

 “Rob, one of our most valued Customer Service Reps made a comment that made me think of your message and how you said, ‘you must make a commitment to your career to be successful’.  She said, ‘being in the insurance business, all of our customers’ problems become our problems and we have to be here to help them through it that’s why they do business with us and that’s what keeps our lights on; you gotta love it or you are at the wrong place!’”

It doesn’t surprise me that anyone who works with Matt would also have a passion for their job; he would attract other people who would want to do, help and care for others. Let me share a few anonymous quotes with you about the Power of Passion: 

  • Lack of PASSION is fatal.
  • Do it with PASSION or not at all.
  • Talent isn’t much without PASSION.
  • PASSION is the difference between having a job or having a career.
  • Purpose is the reason for the journey – PASSION is the fire that lights the way.

Maybe the one thing that is causing your career from not taking off … is that you aren’t looking at it as a career; it is simply a job to you and your customers, associates, managers and boss can sense that. There is always going to be frustration, toil, hassles, problems, glitches, hitches and difficulties in any job (that is why they call it work). But, if you look at it from a different perspective … that what you are doing is helping people in some way … then it all becomes worthwhile. Galileo, the great Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician, once said: “Passion is the genesis of genius.” So, let your passion become the start of something great for your career.

When there is Passion in your Purpose

you give Power to your Potential.

 

Different Approach

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to address the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association and it was one of the most memorable programs I have done in my career; the people attending the conference provide drug & alcohol testing for any company, organization, state or federal agency. During my interviewing process to help me customize my program, one of the questions I asked them was … “What makes your job difficult?” Several people responded: “Having to deal with all the stupid excuses people give for testing positive for drugs.” That response really intrigued me, so I dug deeper in my questioning to get actual examples of their excuses; I will get to the excuses in a moment.

To help them with this difficult portion of their job, I suggested they deal with the problem with a different approach. I proposed they print up a little one-page list of excuses that will not be accepted for testing positive for drugs and hand that to them before being test. That way, if they do test positive for having drugs or alcohol in their system, there is no need to waste everyone’s time using any of the excuses listed. Below are the actual excuses given (with NO embellishment) and the form I suggested they print up.

Excuses That Don’t Work for Testing Positive for Drugs

You Will Need To Try Something Different – These Aren’t Acceptable

More Originality Will be Required

  1. I was at a party and everyone was smoking pot around me, so it’s second-hand smoke.
  2. Someone must have put something in my drink; I swear I would never use drugs.
  3. I take my friend’s pain meds when I have a migraine.
  4. I used to smoke pot years ago when I was fat. I hear it stays in your system for a long time.
  5. It was the cookies I ate at a party. I think it was medical marijuana.
  6. I ate a bunch of poppy seed muffins.
  7. I kissed a girl who had just used cocaine.
  8. I take supplements from the health food store.
  9. I buy hemp oil and make salad dressing with it.
  10. I have to light my wife’s joints for her because she uses medical marijuana and she is too sick to do it herself.

So now, when someone tests positive, they no longer have to deal with these 10 silly excuses … hopefully saving them a little time and frustration, and they did it by adding a little twist of humor in the process. May I suggest for you managers and leaders out there, to take a look at things you have to do like: evaluations, reviews, critiques, changing policies, implementing new software programs, meeting deadlines, revamping procedures, enforcing guidelines, delegating responsibilities, providing feedback, or complying with state and federal government regulations … and see if you can find a different approach that might make it be accepted more favorably.

Originality and humor can help take the “sting” out of any situation, so anytime you can add a little of it, to help take the drudgery or negativity out of an issue, mandate, or task … I recommend you go for it.

Don’t Second Guess

We all have to make decisions every day. Some decisions we make require little thought and the consequences will not be earth shattering or career changing. But, there are other decisions we have to make that can have an enormous effect on our lives. Decisions like … who we are going to marry or do we stay single, where are we going to live, should we have children, what career/job we choose, should we change jobs, do we get a college education or advance our education even further … these are big, tough, critical decisions that aren’t easy to make and the FINAL DECISIONS are life changing. 

I had to make a huge decision this week. I sought out council from people I respect and I measured all the pros and cons. I tried to consider all the “What If’s” and I assessed the consequences with doing it or not doing it. I had received advice like … “I should absolutely take the offer, no questions asked” … to … “no way take the offer, it is not in your favor”. I had been working towards this goal for several years, and when the offer came in writing … I turned it down.

So, what pushed me to say “NO” to the offer? Was it the 13 pages of fine print, written in their favor? No, that wasn’t it; I actually was expecting that. What really helped me decide were two things. The first thing was there was a huge “What If” question that had a very bad result, if all didn’t go well. The second thing was a statement they made: “This is our standard agreement that is non-negotiable.” Everything in business is negotiable and they just told me it isn’t. That one statement made me start re-evaluating everything … and to finally make a decision to say, “NO”. 

I started thinking, once we started doing business together, what else was going to be “non-negotiable.” That one statement triggered me to start thinking of alternatives, options, other possibilities, and a new direction I could pursue, if I said “NO” to their offer. I felt re-energized, stimulated, excited about the other options and even more surprising to myself … I was feeling no remorse about saying, “NO.”

Who is to say I made the right or wrong decision? Some people might say, “Only time will tell,” but, I still have a great deal to do with … the story that will be told. In all my years in business, I have learned two very important things about making decisions.

Ask yourself if you can live with the consequences if it fails … because if you can’t live with it – don’t do it.

NEVER doubt your decision, NEVER look back, NEVER SECOND GUESS…  because if you do, those actions will help to sabotage your decision.

My job now is to make my new direction the right direction, the right choice, the right decision.

You should never make a decision because it is the easiest thing to do, nor should you make it based on convenience and most importantly, never “Second Guess” the decision you made. Former President Harry S. Truman once stated: “Once a decision was made, I didn’t worry about it afterward.” I would recommend we all follow his advice; I know I am.

The Fastest Way to Kill a Good Decision …

is to Second Guess it.

How Many Fans Do You Have?

In the world of entertainment, sports and business … entertainers, athletes, athletic teams and companies have fans. 142 million people follow Katy Perry on Twitter and Facebook. Soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo has 138 million fans following him. Justin Bieber (136M), and Taylor Swift (128M) followers. 59 million people follow McDonald’s, Disney (51M), Red Bull (45M), Starbucks (43M), and Pepsi has (36M) followers. The world of Social Media is rampant with fans.

My question to you today is, “how many FANS do you have”? If you plan on advancing in your business career, it is imperative to have FANS; people who will vouch for your talent, integrity, creativity, resourcefulness, positive attitude, tenacity, thoroughness, and/or energy. Do you have any FANS who will vouch for you?

I am not talking friends … I am talking FANS who are impressed with your skills and talent. Let’s look at FANS from a different perspective for a moment; your perspective. “If you were assigned a big project by your boss, that meant keeping or losing your job, and you were allowed to pick any 5 people out of your company to help you with the project, who would you pick? Would you pick your best friends or people you know are the most talented and who would be able to help you do an amazing job on the project?” I know what my answer would be without any hesitation; I’d choose the talented ones.

The five people that I would choose have a FAN base. They would be known throughout the company as REALLY GOOD! Their work ethic and record for getting things done is known by their peers. Their associates, managers and bosses all know who they are. Everyone wants them on their team. Associates ask them for help and advice and they are always happy to oblige. Doing the bare minimum is not in their DNA.

Developing a FAN BASE is no easy task. FANS are hard to impress. FANS are demanding and expect YOUR BEST all the time. FANS want winners. FANS require consistency, reliability, trustworthiness, stellar performance and are not impressed with words, promises and plans. FANS are impressed with accomplishments, not rhetoric. FANS hate excuses and apologies. Think back on the 5 people you would have selected for the project and ask yourself why you would choose them. Write down the things they do that impresses you. You now have identified why you would choose them … so why would anyone choose YOU? Here is an acronym that will help you with developing FANS. Be Formidable, Awesome, have Nerve and be Steadfast. 

F  ormidable … inspiring respect through being impressively intense and capable

A  wesome… causing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of admiration

N  erves… courage and control under pressure, fortitude, stamina, and boldness

S  teadfast…loyal, committed, dependable, solid, and trustworthy

If You Want Fans

Then Give Them Something to Cheer About

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