Conway Daily Sun
By Michael Kline
To do just about anything, there is always a better way. Just ask your staff, customers, suppliers or you’re your spouse; everyone has a better way for you to do just about anything. If you are the decision maker in your business, it’s probably for a reason.
Chances are you actually do know better than most people what to do and how to do it. Chances are also pretty good that you employ people who are at least as smart as you and you collect input from those people on a regular basis… uhoh.
Surely, no one is as smart as you, certainly not those who work for you, or those pesky suppliers who don’t understand your problems, or those fickle customers who just like to complain and aren’t really trying to help you.
Now let me put aside my sarcasm and talk about a real opportunity here. These helpful people like to say things like “why don’t you just______”or “you know what you should do, you should_______”. We tend to shut down when we here these statements – no matter what they fill in the blank with, it is almost never a good idea. Most people are not consultants, and certainly not coaches. They like to make suggestions based on their perceptions of what you need to make your business better, and because they are not professional advisors, they do so without first understanding your goals or challenges. However, we do like free resources if we can make them work.
We have employees who know a lot about what’s going on at your front line. We have suppliers who know a lot about what’s happening in your industry and at your competitors. We have customers who know something about what they would like to get from you. Why do they all seem so stupid and keep wasting your time with their lousy ideas?! I suggest we need a system for taking advantage of these free resources. We’ve identified the first problem is the free advisors don’t know what your goals or problems are before they start giving advice. For that matter, even you may not know exactly what your goals or problems are. If you have a communication system that allows for input from people in-the-know, you can benefit from their wisdom and make better decisions.
First, everyone needs to know your top priority. It needs to be crystal clear to everyone in the company exactly what you are most focused on this year and this quarter. Goals should be set with your team annually, modified quarterly, monitored weekly and pulsed daily. At each of these steps, the team is invited to have input. At weekly staff meetings you are open to input and better ideas. These are not sessions for the manager to yell at employees about things they didn’t do correctly or for employees to complain. These are sessions in which you and your staff identify challenges and opportunities to establish better practices that will become the new documented standard in your procedures manual. The more frequently you have these sessions, the closer you will come to having constant improvement. Customers and suppliers can be invited to special events where they are given some background information and asked for feedback and creative input.
In summary, identify your top three priorities. Communicate those priorities in words, actions and policies that are congruent with your values and goals. Involve everyone you can in creating a strategy to meet the priorities. Keep score and measure progress on your goals. Follow up on everything. Most people will expect you to abandon your ideas in a month, week or day because that is how it has always been. You have good ideas but nothing ever really changes. They never change because the idea didn’t get shared, strategy didn’t get developed, measured or followed up on. Without all five steps, you will continue to be perceived as someone who needs free advice from uninformed
people that make you crazy with their silly opinions. There is a better way.
Michael Kline is a local retailer, success coach and trainer. He may be reached through
his website, www.klineseminars.com, or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.