Delegate the Insomnia

If you have ever woken up at 3 AM worrying about your company, you probably felt pretty lonely. That’s the worst time, and it feels as if the whole burden lies on your shoulders.....and it usually does. It is natural for people who own the business to own the worry as well….but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

The $100 P&L Education Exercise

One of the issues in business is that your employees think you make a lot more money than you actually do.  They see the revenue side of the equation and probably think that your revenues are greater than they are.  More damagingly, they don’t see your costs clearly and almost certainly underestimate what it costs you to run the business.
Meetings can be the curse of business, and if you are not careful they can be the single biggest impediment to productivity. The danger is that if you run meetings that are unfocused and don't accomplish anything, then you not only waste your people's time but also demotivate them. You can actually reduce communication rather than improve it.
A client of mine had a huge backlog in one area of his business. It was frustrating him greatly and he couldn’t seem to get it under control. As we discussed the problem, it emerged that the backlog had been there for years but wasn’t getting any bigger, and this led to a major AHA on his part.  

Employee Financial Education

Business owners tend to think their employees understand more about finances than they actually do and simply shrug their shoulders when the topic of educating employees comes up.  They are nervous about sharing financial information, but what your employees don’t know can hurt the company and educating them is very important.
Absenteeism is visible; Presenteeism isn’t. It is the problem right in front of your face, the one you can’t see. To see the problem, you need to put in systems to measure effectiveness rather than attendance – to focus on measurable results rather than just being there.

Are you Hard of Listening?

We all use the phrase ‘hard of hearing’. We generally apply it to older people, but there is an affliction that affects people of all ages… inability to listen. I call that being ‘hard of listening’ and it is something well worth taking time to correct.
1.     Never give me urgent work in the morning. Always wait until 4:00 and then bring it to me. The challenge of a deadline is refreshing.
All of us have jargon that we use as shorthand in our business, but if we aren't careful that can spoil over into our "communication" with our customers and prospects and be both confusing and counter-productive.
I was surprised to hear on the radio that CBS had developed a special technique to encourage people to cheat their employers by watching the NCAA March Madness tournament on the CBS website while they are at work. 
When somebody makes a mistake you have a choice to make about how you react. You can go after them in an angry fashion or use the mistake as a training lesson. If you give in to your emotions and do the former, you are missing a huge opportunity to turn a negative issue into a positive learning event.

The Half Wit

A business owner received a letter from the Department of Labor saying they were going to audit him.  The audit occurred because there had been a wage and hour complaint and the auditor was investigating wage and hour records and ensuring that the business was paying at least minimum wage.

The Mom and Pop Test

As the name suggests, a Mom and Pop business is typically one run by a husband and wife. They are often family businesses, but the description is by no means limited to them. These owners have little formal business education and little interest in learning new business techniques. They run the operation by the seat of the pants and never invest in themselves or the business. As a result, their businesses seldom grow beyond about 20 employees.
What you call your customers determines the way you think about them. The way you think about them defines the way you treat them. The way you treat them defines whether they will stay with you or go somewhere where they are appreciated more.
You often hear people talking about theirs being a ‘Family Business’, but what does that mean? In a case where one generation is handing over to their children, ‘Family Business’ is an accurate description, but in companies where that isn’t the case what do the owners really mean when they use the words ’Family Business’?
Holding people accountable has two major components, and neither one can be ignored. The first is setting clear expectations; the second is calling people out when they don't live up to those expectations.
A question can be a statement in disguise. When you ask a “statement” question it can have the wrong impact on the person you are asking the question. Unless your intention is to give offense, it is important that you re-frame such questions so as to make sure that you aren’t behaving in a counter-productive manner.
When something bad happens in your business there are two ways that you can attack the problem. You can let your anger and frustration dictate your actions and lash out at the obvious cause….. or you can put your emotions in check, look at the big picture, and try to get to the underlying cause of the problem.
Many business owners complain about their employees and use words like entitlement and accountability to describe the problem.
How often do you make a commitment to meet somebody and then break it? How do you act when something comes along that you want to do more than what you have committed to do? Do you readily take the new meeting and cancel the old one? How do you tell the person with whom you had previously agreed to meet that you have something more important to do?
One of the things I hear most frequently from business owners is that their employees have no common sense. Next in line behind that is that they are not committed to the business because they don’t do the things they should.
In working with business owners, there are four management styles that I see. Most CEOs tend to fit into either the Army, Enabler or Wheel category, but the more sophisticated and successful are working at adopting Win-Win. Although all of these can coexist in the same manager, with different styles apparent on different days, most managers tend to have one predominant style. 
The lion tamer uses the threat of force and if he actually uses it, he has lost. If he hits the lion with the whip and the lion figures out it doesn’t hurt that much, he’ll eat him.
Businesses owners focus on employee attendance, but how much of the employee are you really getting? You measure absenteeism, but many businesses have an issue with what I call “presenteeism”. This is much harder to spot and much more insidious because while you have their physical presence you are not getting the output from the whole employee.
Anybody who has ever tried to get financing has experienced what I call the Wall Street No. You learn that technique the hard way when you go for investment financing, and it is not a pleasant experience. You invest time, energy and resources, and instead of getting a call to tell you that they aren’t interested in proceeding you are left to infer that from the deafening silence.  
The more hours the business owner works, the less his business is worth. The curse that besets many business owners is that they think that they can do everything better than anybody else. It leads them to work below their pay grade instead of focusing on what they need to do to build equity value in their company.
Current work trends are that we emphasize flex time and encourage staff to work from home but most owners and managers do a poor job of stopping their employees homing from work.
It is tempting to think that anything can be accomplished simply by throwing more people at it, but some things just can’t be hurried. When planning projects and scheduling, always keep in mind the maxim “nine women can’t have a baby in one month”.