Saturday, February 28, 2009

Great Managers Reject Average

Great managers reject average because they know that it comes at the cost of excellence. Average does just enough to get by. It requires little effort or thought. It achieves average results. It settles for second best and even third best. Average doesn't impress customers, but it also doesn't bother them too much. It doesn't look for better ways to do things and it doesn't identify problems to be fixed. Average clocks in and clocks out and works just for a pay check. It is not invested in the company, the customers, or even in itself.

Despite its rejection by great managers, average is widely accepted by most of the public. Is anyone really ever surprised anymore when someone doesn't address them by name? Do we ever really complain when service is average or substandard? At restaurants, don't we see mistakes with the meal as just part of the experience?

I recently had an experience with a major delivery carrier that actually caused me to write this blog. After the delivery agency promised to have my package to my home after 5pm, the delivery attempt actually happened at 3:15pm. I was home by 4:15pm (early considering the promised delivery time), so I called the carrier and asked them to send the delivery man back to my house before the end of his shift. Fortunately, he was still in town, so I thought I was in luck. However, despite being just 10 minutes from my house, I was told that he couldn't make it back, but that I could meet him on the other side of town. I could drive 10 minutes to receive my home delivery, after the delivery time was not honored, but the driver could not spare those 10 minutes for me - the customer. When I questioned this decision to the telephone "service" agent, she actually told me that this decision was based on "driver discretion".

Driver discretion! But, what about the customer? It was too much for me to expect a promised delivery time, or an additional 10 minutes of drive time to just satisfy a customer. Don't these average companies know that they have competitors who will earn these customers right away from them? And guess what - it will take a just-better-than-average effort.

Now, as an example, here's how that delivery experience could have gone:

Telephone Service Agent - "Mr. Helms, please accept my apology for the mix-up. I am going to call the driver right away and re-route him directly back to your house. Can you hold the line for just a short moment please sir?" When she comes back on the line: "Mr. Helms, the driver wanted me to convey his sincere apologies as well. He understands that you left work early to receive this package on-time and he is going to be back at your house in 10 minutes. Will that be OK with you Mr. Helms? Also, the next time you need to ship a package Mr. Helms, please give the attendant the following reference number and receive 50% off of your delivery. We really appreciate your confidence in our ability to delivery your package on-time and with great accuracy Mr. Helms. Have a great day and enjoy your package!"

Mr. Helms - "Wow!"

Directive to all Managers: DO NOT ACCEPT OR TOLERATE AVERAGE!

Expect excellence in everything you do, and in everything your company does. Train your staff to be excellent. Recruit and hire only those people who have a history of and desire for excellence. Make your customers say, "WOW!" Achieve excellent results. Set high targets and exceed them. Reward your employees for achieving excellent results. Never reward average, as these are not results - these are the things that happen naturally just for getting out of bed in the morning. When you shoot for excellence, your company will be the sacred "Purple Cow" in your industry and certainly in your town.

Yes, great managers reject average because they know that average comes at the expense of the only acceptable outcome - EXCELLENCE.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Boost Productivity With High Morale

Do not overlook the critical importance of having high morale among your staff. People who are unhappy, for good reasons or not, do an overall worse job than those who are happy. Unhappy or dissatisfied employees will be unproductive and make mistakes - even willful mistakes. These people will be more likely to run off your customers and they will bad mouth you to the public. You will pay them hour by hour and day by day to do a poor job and hurt your business until the day that you finally decide to fire them. The worst thing about this is that if you would have done a better job of boosting productivity by boosting morale, you could have avoided all of the bad things that happened. So, the question is: "How do I boost morale in my organization?"

The first thing you must do is ask the staff what's wrong and what's right, what they like and what they dislike, how they feel about management, what they would change about the company, and certainly other questions that are relevant to your organization. You need to take these answers very seriously - especially the trends or the responses that come up over and over again. Let the staff know that you are taking their responses seriously and take appropriate actions on the things that you can change. Communicate the reasons you can't change other things so that the staff at least knows they were considered.

How can you get positive responses that are leading to high productivity and excellent results? Great question! Here are some things you can do and that you really should do right away.

1. Give consistent positive feedback to everyone and for everything that deserves it, even for the smallest things.

2. Sincerely tell people thank you for doing a good job - consistently and often.

3. Don't obsess over the negative and don't panic, especially publicly for the staff to see.

4. Reward success. Set up a reward system for reaching desired targets. These do not have to be in the form of huge bonuses. Small, public rewards and recognitions will go a long way.

5. Give awards such as employee of the month or top performer award.

6. Be super-nice to people. Let them know that you LIKE them and that you CARE about them.

7. Do the little things that cost little and mean a lot. This is different in every office. In my office, it would be something as simple as letting the staff choose different color uniforms when we purchase new uniforms anyway.

8. Train your management team to be supportive to staff and to be expert in their work areas. Expert and supportive managers create high morale among their direct reports.

9. Train employees so that they are expert at their jobs. Highly trained employees tend to have higher job satisfaction because they are equipped to do a good job.

10. Speak nicely of employees in front of their coworkers, their managers, their husbands or wives, and others. Public recognition and compliments make people feel good and want to do a good job. This is very powerful.

Do not under-estimate the power of high morale over your company's productivity. If you ignore it, do not be surprised when you miss the mark. To break records, do the right things to keep people happy and motivated.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Signs of Weakness in "Leaders"

When leaders panic, business can suffer. That's why I always say that panic is not a quality of leadership. Along with panic, you could add: blow-ups, extreme furiousness, out-of-control or erratic behavior, and any of a number of other reactions of fear and anger.

With all of that said, here's how business suffers. Others will have a tendency to panic. This can range from a person's fear of losing their job and thus losing focus of doing the right job, to people quitting that you would not want to leave, to those that the "leader" lashed out at sabotaging the business, and more. Knowing these possibilities, why would a "leader" behave this way.

Of course, a true leader would never behave this way. Instead, a true leader will always take a step back from a negative situation and evaluate all of the possible causes and solutions. Solutions usually come quick and easy to a true leader. As a result, the leader has no need for panic, fear, or furious anger. A true leader is great to work for in this way. People who do a great job never fear the wrath of a great leader. The leader knows that these people are the key to the leader's success. Those who don't do a great job, also need not fear because the great leader will train poor performers or mistake makers so that those mistakes are not made again. Should they be made again, the only necessary reaction of the leader would be to find someone else to do the job. No other harm done to the rest of the business.

Never panic. Never let other see weakness in you as displayed with fear, worry, erratic behavior, or anger. These are not leadership qualities. True leaders know this.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Secrets Tips for Getting Hired

I have a unique insight into the business of hiring as I have done it for nearly 10 years. I have seen a lot of things that would make you laugh. So, the first thing I want to do is point out some of the very obvious things not to do if you want to get the job. Again, let me emphasize that all of these things have happened at my office.

1. Don't eat the snack food that is on the interviewers desk. This actually happened in my office. The applicant asked if she could have a piece of the fruit on the desk as she grabbed it out of the interviewers bowl. Not a very good start.

2. Don't bring your child with you to the interview AND ask the receptionist to watch him while you interview. At the very least, this gives you something to have to explain that you might not want to.

3. Don't argue with the interviewer about her interview methods, testing requirements, or just about anything else. Bottom line: you may be right, but in the end will it really matter?

4. Don't have your mother call the interviewer asking why you didn't get the job. Seriously don't.

5. If you're doing drugs - don't. If you are one of the unfortunate idiots that smokes pot or does some other really ignorant drug, don't tell the interviewer that you can't take the drug test because you don't need to use the bathroom, and don't ask upon finding out about the drug test if you can come back another time to take it. Just don't be that stupid - OK?

So, with the amusing, ridiculous items out of the way, the things that follow will give you a significant leg up on the "competition" when you are trying to get a job.

First of all, you need to understand the most important part of any interview - 1st Impressions. Kevin Hogan says in his book, "The Science of Influence," that most people form an impression of you within 30 seconds of first seeing you. This means that you don't even need to say hello. You don't even have to see them coming. Either way, that initial impression is formed and it's very hard to erase if it's a bad one.

What should you do then? Dress to impress. Even if the job requires a uniform consisting of shorts and a t-shirt, you should show up to the interview in a shirt and tie, and even a suit if you have one. You will be showing the interviewer that you're not only serious, but that you are taking them seriously. Also, don't forget to shave, get a fresh hair cut, and look and smell clean. This part seems obvious enough, but believe me when I say it is missed too often.

Next, make eye contact, smile, and give a firm hand shake. There's nothing I hate more than an embarrassing, weak hand shake - especially from a man. Practice this if you need to. It's important.

Once you're past first impressions, you had better have a concisely written resume that sells you to the interviewer. You need to go beyond the standard employment dates and job descriptions. Very important: Connect the dots between you, your history, and the job you want. Very clearly spell out how your background makes you the perfect choice for the position.

What are your Unique Selling Points? You should have 3 to 5 bullet points ready to discuss about yourself that will tell the interviewer exactly who you are and why he/she should pick you. Be confident. Be almost cocky (almost). If the interviewer asks you if you can do something, say yes and even if you're not sure, act like you are.

Prior to the interview, study the company's web site. This will prepare you to ask the right questions during the interview. A good interviewer will let you talk a lot. Don't hang yourself. Have good, pithy questions, and clear, concise answers. Use proper grammar always. Ask the interviewer what he/she is looking for in a candidate. Find a way to be that description. Knowing this answer will help you answer all of the rest of the questions asked of you.

Once the interview is over, give another firm handshake and ask for the job. An accountant once gave me the perfect line at the end of the interview (nobody else has done it since then either). He said, "I want to work for you and I'm the right person for the job." He was too. I ended up learning a lot from that guy. The point? You must ask for the job. Be confident and know that the best way to get anything is to ask for it.

If you don't get the job right then, be sure you say thank you on your way out and then send a card or email later on thanking them again for their time. This message should also reinforce the 5 unique selling points you have for yourself again.

The psychology of this process takes up whole books so I won't go into all of it here. There is clearly a lot more to getting hired, but you should remember the main points here:

1. 1st impressions are critical.
2. Have a winning resume.
3. Ask the right questions.
4. Know your unique selling points.
5. Ask for the job.
6. Send a follow up note reinforcing your USP's.

Read some of Kevin Hogan's books to get more on the very important psychology of these types of interactions. Incidentally, his best book is listed in my 5-Star Book Store.

Good luck!

High-Value Marketing Tips

Your marketing department might just be you, or as described in The Ultimate Sales Machine, "A one-person army," or you might have multiple people on your marketing team. Either way, you need to understand these important marketing tips in order to run a tight and effective marketing machine.

1. Use a marketing budget to avoid excessive and wasteful spending. However, always exceed the budget on everything that gives you your desired return-on-investment.

2. Test, test, test. This means finding out what works and what does not work. Kill everything that doesn't produce new customers.

3. Survey customers to find out what works. What the manager thinks is irrelevant if the customers don’t agree. Stop funding for all marketing projects that are not supported by positive customer feedback.

4. Establish multiple pillars of marketing. For example: web sites, yellow pages, brochures, mail-outs, signs.

5. Create a customer-referral program. Reward referrals for the right kinds of customers.

6. Make customers say, “WOW” in order to become a referable company. Focus close attention to excellent customer service.

7. Formula for Growth = Capture + Amplify + Maintain. Capture new clients. Amplify the customer relationship. Maintain that client relationship. (From Your Management Sucks!)

8. When customers leave, you must find out why. Try to get them back and learn from mistakes.

9. Always ask for referrals, especially from happy customers.

10. Don’t try to win awards with advertising. The best award is new customers.

Do What Nobody Else Will Be Able To

I heard a quote several years ago that changed my total point-of-view and I have never forgotten it. Do what nobody else is willing to do today so that you can do what nobody else is able to do later. After hearing this, I re-evaluated everything.

I had to first determine what I wanted to be able to do later. I needed big dreams.

1. Vacation in Las Vegas with my wife anytime that I want to go.
2. Drive a Ferrari (this is my dream car).
3. Send both of my sons to Notre Dame.
4. Retire before I'm 50.
5. Buy my wife her dream house.

For me, this required a total paradigm shift. I started thinking like the kind of person who would accomplish those goals. Along the way (and I am still not close YET) I have made some momentum-accelerating decisions.

1. I get out of bed earlier than before.
2. I eat only healthy foods.
3. I work out (hard) at least 4 days per week.
4. Every time I get into my car, I listen to an audio book instead of the radio or music CD's.
5. I keep 2 or 3 business books on my nightstand to read when I'm going to sleep.
6. Instead of Sportscenter, I usually watch CNBC or Fox Business Network.
7. I became a member of the American Management Association to keep up-to-date on current management topics.
8. I am learning other aspects of business that I wasn't very good at before (web design currently).
9. My wife and I are getting out of debt (or as I call it: working towards financial freedom).
10. I write these blogs which along with helping others, also helps to keep me sharp because I want my blog topics to be super-relevant to everyone that reads it.

I am doing what others don't want to do today and I will be able to do things that others won't be able to do later. Can you say the same thing? What is your list of things to do now so that you can achieve your future goals? I hope you will be able to vacation at your favorite spot, drive your dream car, send your kids to your favorite school, and give your wife her dream house. I especially hope you don't have to work into your 60's or 70's just to survive financially.

I think this is the kind of thing that separates #1's from everyone else. If you're not doing this already, get started! Do today what nobody else is willing to do so that you can do later what nobody else is able to do.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Customers, Customers, Customers

Wonder what this blog's about? Wrong! It's about customers.

Peter Drucker, the father of management, said the purpose of business is to create customers.

Jeffrey J. Fox says the only reason for business to exist is to solve a customer's problem and make customers feel good.

Jay Abraham says that you should fall in love with your customers.

So, let's put these 3 comments together into one tremendous customer service statement:

The purpose of business is to create customers and keep them by solving their problems and making them feel good by falling in love with them.

Just imagine the idea of falling in love with customers. What would you do for a customer that you were in love with? I like to say that there is no wrong way to make a customer happy. If you're in love with the customer, you'll do whatever it takes for his or her happiness. Don't forget to hire people who also want to love your customers and train them to love them the same way that you do.

It's interesting that Drucker says the purpose of business is to create customers. He even makes a point to say that profit is the wrong measuring stick. Wow! That one really made me think. Imagine though - what would happen to your profit if new customers stopped showing up?

I think, talk about, and act on customers and customer service a lot. Do you? If you're my competition, feel free to cut it out right away. Thanks.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Record-Breaking Business Tracking Systems

Business Tracking Systems help managers break company records. The saying goes like this: "if you measure something, it will improve." This is easy to say, but how do you measure something and what do you measure? Managers need to be able to develop effective business tracking systems that answer these questions.

First, what is a business tracking system? This is a systematic measuring of primary and secondary indicators of business growth. This can be done with weekly and monthly reports of many different types from informal or formal reports, to dashboard charts or graphs. The way I prefer to track these indicators uses Microsoft Excel.

Excel has add-ins that allow you to use extensive spreadsheets to build charts of graphs that can be easily formatted and maintained by filling in cells at any pre-determined interval. Each new cell creates a new graph plot. One of my current chart of graphs consists of more than 50 primary and secondary indicators. An example of a primary indicator may be Total Sales, whereas a secondary indicator may be Sales per Day or Sales per Customer or Sales From a Particular Item or Service.

When these graphs are on an up-trend, it's good and you need to find out why and work to improve on those successes. When a graph is on a down-trend, you should find out why, identify problems and solve them, and find improvements that turn the graph around. Tracking these indicators using graphs gives the manager a "dashboard" that makes managing the business more efficient and helps to focus the manager on top priorities as well as areas that require further or new training.

What you measure, will improve, but what you track using business tracking systems will help you break records. If you don't have an effective business tracking system in place already, get it done right away. For more help setting up your company's business tracking system, feel free to email me a I have created systems that track more than 200 business indicators. I can help you too.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Does Your Marketing Plan Address All the Right Areas?

A top-level marketing plan must address all areas of marketing, even the often forgotten areas. To evaluate the effectiveness of your company's plan, answer the following questions.

Who? - Who will your plan specifically target?
Where? - Where do you find your customers?
How? - How will your customers find you?
Why? - Why should your customers buy from you?
What? - What do you have to offer that differentiates you from your competition?
When? - When will everything in the plan happen?

How do you know?
1. How do you know which marketing efforts are working?
2. How will you track the ways in which customers find out about you?
3. How will you know if your marketing and sales teams are doing the right job?
4. What will you immediately stop doing?

What information should you use?
1. What has worked for you in the past?
2. What are customers telling you now?
3. What is your marketing cost per new customer, for each marketing pillar?
4. What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
5. What drives your company's economic engine?

What areas are missing from your plan?
1. Did you consider the impact of customer service on your current and future customers?
2. Does your plan contain any customer retention initiatives?
3. Does your plan address an increase of sales dollars and sales attempts per customer?
4. Did you consider your competitors' offerings?
5. How do your individual marketing pillars tie together?

Do you have adequate training at all levels of the organization?
1. How will you train all of your staff on customer service, retention, and sales?
2. How will you train your sales team to use influential sales tactics to increase customer value?
3. How will you train your marketing and promotions team to create killer headlines?
4. How will you educate all levels of the organization on the efforts of the other departments?
5. How will you ensure that everyone understands how to sell your products.

Your marketing plan will need to consider all of these questions. It will also include a complete list of all marketing, promotion, and sales efforts, along with a strategic time-table for each. The marketing plan is a complex piece of the organization's total strategy. A complete and effective plan is the necessary first step for the marketing team.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Be Fanatical About Training

It has been said (and I agree) that people are not your greatest asset, only the right people are. Well, assuming you have the "right" people in place, now it's your job, as manager, to make sure they can do the right job, the right way. To do this, you must be fanatical about training.

Training doesn't start when you have hired someone new. It doesn't even start when that person begins working their new position. No. Training starts when the manager decides what training materials and methods to use, when to use them, and how frequently to use them. Managers should create standardized training protocols, with standardized materials, that all people in the organization must complete, as a condition of employment.

Once these protocols and materials are available, then the decision of when and how often to train can be determined. The answer to this is immediate and often. Immediately train all new associates. Assign a pro to work with them in a standardized manner, 1-on-1. Test new associates on all training materials. Role play with them. Make sure they can do the job as easily as if they have been doing it for years.

Then, train often. Training is not a one-time event. The manager's job is to make sure all of the staff remains at the top of their game. New systems need to be trained along with older, existing systems. Use weekly meetings wisely and keep your staff working and thinking at a very high level by keeping them shart thru ongoing training.

Give staff relevant business topics to discuss openly. Quiz them. Give them new written materials to read and discuss from the internet. Ask them what problems they are having and what solutions they can recommend. Perform in-services on equipment, software, and communications. Emphasize customer service.

Educate the staff on an ongoing basis about exactly what it takes to remain a necessary and successful part of the organization's mission and goals.

A highly trained and educated staff will excel in every area. This staff will break records. This staff will be a REFLECTION of its manager. As a manager, ask yourself how you want others to see you when they interact with your staff.

To confidently answer this question, be fanatical about training.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Creating Successful Positions Within an Organization

People fail at their jobs when positions are not created properly, by managers, so that the position can be successful. The vast majority of business problems are system / position problems and not people problems. Poor management says that when a person isn't doing a good job, it must be that person's fault due to lack of ability or lack of desire. So often though, the reality is that people don't fail - instead the position was not designed well enough for any person to do a good job in it.

A smart manager knows that their own success depends on the success of each person they supervise. They know that a well-defined and solidly-structured job position will help to create the success they expect and that is expected of them as managers.

To create a successful position within any organization, follow these guidelines.

1. Define the position with a Mission Statement.
2. Define clear goals for the position along with indicators of success.
3. Fit the position into an (already existing) organizational chart.
4. Write a very clear and detailed job description.
5. Write routing steps and policies for the position.
6. Create a tracking system that illustrates problems and successes.
7. Choose the right person to fit the position.
8. Fanatically train the new person with written training materials.
9. Introduce and integrate the new position (and person) into the organization.
10. Continually follow up on progress and give timely and appropriate feedback.

First, notice that finding the right person doesn't occur until step 7 in this process. The rest is about the structure and definition of the position, not the person. Follow these steps and you will find that the majority of your employees will perform like all-stars. Give them the tools to be successful and you, as manager, will be successful.

Finally, realize that each of these 10 steps depends first on the manager's ability. Even step 7 requires the manager to be able to match the right person with the position, and even to be able to identify talented people in the first place. Lesson: the manager's abilities can make or break an organization. Use those abilities and these 10 steps to create successful positions that good people can be successful in.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Killer Sales Offerings Answer the Question: What's In It For Me?

I was driving today and I passed a business with a big, expensive banner that said, "We Appreciate Our Customers". How wonderful. Why didn't the sign just say, "We do the minimum to make a sale"? Or, it could have just as easily said, "We blow our money on the wrong advertisements". The main purpose of business is to create new customers. In order to do this, you must answer the question, "What's in it for me?"

A better message on that banner would have been, "20% Off" or "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" or "Bring a Friend and get $10 off". The key point here is that you need to create a compelling reason for customers to come in. Appreciating customers is a great idea, but it is really a minimum. It certainly isn't worth throwing money away on a huge banner to say so.

If you really want to show your appreciation towards customers, then reward them for doing business with you and for promoting your business to their friends and family. Tell them you're going to do this. Give them an expectation of a showing of appreciation. Killer sales offerings answer the question, "what's in it for me".

Here's what's in it for you: Spend $500 and get $50 off your next purchase. Bring us 5 new customers and get a $100 gift certificate. Bring a friend next time and you both get half off.

Let's compare killer sales offering #1 (Spend $500 and get $50 off your next purchase) to the cost of the appreciation banner. What if this banner cost $500 to produce? It gives no incentive for customers or potential customers to spend money with you. Instead, you can pay $50 and make $500 or more. If you "have" to spend $50 10 times, that means that customers spent $5,000 or more. Your killer sales offering would have netted you $4,500 compared to a loss of $500 on the banner. And, that's just for the first 10 customers.

Everyone can create a killer sales offering. Just remember to reward your customers for helping you to grow your business. Get more new customers. Get more sales per customer. Get more sales attempts per customer. Reward these things and you will be answering the question, "what's in it for me?".

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Are Your Customers Coming Back?

"Fine." If your customers say this, everything is not fine. What's worse? When they say nothing at all. Most customers won't tell you when they are unhappy. They'll tell everyone else though. Depending on how unhappy a customer is, they could just keep telling people bad things about you right up to the point that they completely forget you. This may be the only time it is good for the customer to forget about you and your business.

I think that it is fairly well understood that unhappy customers tell a lot more people about your business than happy customers do. What is usually missed, are the very fortunate subtle hints you get when an unhappy customer decides to speak up. And, these hints usually sound something like this: "fine." "How was everything Mrs. Jones?" "Fine." "Is there anything else we can do for you?" "No thanks. I'm fine."

Guess what's next? You never hear from that customer again, but depending on how not fine things really were, all of her friends will hear about you for quite a long time. Those friends might even pass the word along to their friends too. Not so fine, huh?

So, here's what you have to do. Wow them! Work like crazy to make your customers enthusiastically happy. These customers will turn into walking advertisements, except these advertisements will also have some level of influence over those they are advertising (talking) to. It's not enough for you to personally wow them. You must also train all of your staff to do the same. In fact, this must be a part of each person's job description.

Finally, survey your customers. Find out what they think about everything that's going on in your organization. Don't do anything without the customers' approval. Add this to an enthusiastic experience and you won't have to worry about whether or not your customers are coming back. They'll be back and they'll bring others with them.

To get started, read "The Fred Factor" by Mark Sanborn, and "Raving Fans" by Ken Blanchard. These easy-to-read books will set your organization on the right path to creating enthusiastically happy customers.

Develop Strategy to Win in Business

To win in business, you must have a clearly defined strategy that is communicated to all levels of the organization. Strategy can be devised for an entire organization AND for individual business units within an organization. Yes, all managers can create and follow a strategy, especially when the organization's strategy is clear enough that business unit managers understand what their goals and mission are. A great business unit manager will go the extra mile to have a strategy that allows the individual business unit to set goals and break records.

In order to create a strategic plan, you must have a focused mission statement that motivates the organization to work together to accomplish the organizations goals. A great mission statement will bring out an emotional response from the reader. You want all members of the organization to not only be behind the mission, but to live the mission by taking it to heart. This emotional mission must also be customer-focused and customer-centered since getting new customers is the most important function of business.

After a mission, strategy depends on an acute understanding of the organizations SWOT - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Build on strengths. Minimize weaknesses. Take advantage of opportunities. Defend against and attack threats. Strengths and weaknesses are primarily internal factors, while opportunities and threats can exist internally and externally. It is best to bring the top minds in the organization together in order to clearly identify and define an organization's SWOT.

Finally, after a clearly defined mission and SWOT analysis, the strategy is created. Remember, strategy should be focused on creating new customers. However, the other ways to increase revenue (other than creating new customers) is to create more sales per customer and to increase customer visits. Also, don't forget to get more efficient so that you can reduce costs and become more profitable.

Organizations need clearly defined strategies in order to win in business. So, first create the plan, then follow through and remember to set up feedback points to make sure the plan is working.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Delegation Improves Management

Nobody can do everything. Anyone who thinks they can do it all isn't doing the important things. Priorities change all the time. As soon as you have completed a couple of high-value tasks, the priorities of remaining and new tasks will be different. It is the job of the manager to determine which tasks are valuable and important enough for the manager to do him/her self and which tasks should be delegated to someone else.

The manager's most important job is to grow the business or the business unit he/she is responsible for. Anything that does not accomplish that goal should be delegated to someone else, and it could be argued that those tasks should not even be done at all. Growing the business or business unit entails increasing new customers, increasing sales per customer, increasing customer visits, and increasing total profit. Managers should never take their eye off of that goal and they should train their staff to focus on the goal as well.

One thing that can stop down a manager's day is reporting. Managers need valid and accurate reports in order to develop strategy, reduce waste, and fix problems. These reports need to be clear and concise. Most importantly, they should be created by someone else. The manager should act on information, not develop the information. To make the best use of this time and information, find someone who is strong in that reporting area and get them on it. Delegate.

The other thing that will waste a manger's time is not having or following an organizational chart. First of all, if you don't have an org chart, get one now. Associates need to understand who they do and do not report to. All levels of the organization need to know who does each task. Org charts should have sufficient detail to let everyone know who does what. Once you have an effective org chart, everyone must follow it. A good manager will be one that associates feel comfortable talking with. This is a great strength because it helps to find problems and to motivate people to do a great job. The problem is when people bypass their direct supervisors and bring too many things to your office. You have to remind people to report issues to their supervisors. This is a part of delegation. It ensures that the direct supervisors are doing their jobs so that you don't have to. Empower your management team to make decisions so that you don't have to do their jobs for them.

With company email, staff has very easy access to a manager who does not redirect them to their direct supervisors. Don't get sucked into the role of email decision maker. Instead, simply reply by reminding them to go to their direct supervisor and copy the supervisor so that everyone knows not to bury you inside of your own inbox.

Managers have to keep an intense focus on the primary goal. Delegation is a key to achieving these goals. Empower the management team to be in-charge. Teach the staff to rely on their direct supervisor. Use reports, don't create them. Stay focused, achieve your goals, and have great success.

Delegation improves management,.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Always Write Policies and Procedures When Giving Instruction / Training

I have seen managers "teaching" their employees how to perform tasks and going through great lengths to explain the procedures. Later, another employee will need additional training and that manager will explain the procedures to this person too, but this time with slightly different instructions. This continues until the manager has spent an enormous amount of time explaining the same procedures over and over again to multiple employees, all of whom receive slightly different "takes" on the training. What a huge waste of time!

Instead, these procedures need to be written up with very clear and concise details that any person could easily understand and put into action. Each job within an organization should have a written routing system. Standardized policies should be written that applies to all individuals throughout the organization. Combined, these policies and procedures help managers to give consistent instruction, allow employees to have written procedures to refer back to, and serve as the framework for future modifications when greater efficiency can be achieved.

Additionally, use email to distribute policies and procedures to all associates. When explaining a new procedure to one employee, take the time to send those new procedures to the rest of the office. Save time and effort by being an efficient teacher. Training is power in organizations, but the pinnacle of training is for the manager to be efficient in his / her teachings.