2002 Business Reality Check

Everyone knows the tough times we are presently facing and the recession we are in that no one wants to admit to. It is time to address the problems so we can be more on the offense rather than playing defense or "catch-up" in business.

First let's start at the top or the highest up we can go on the chain of command. Who is running the show? Is he or she qualified, or did they get there by the promotion fairy going "POOF" you are now a manager or the "leader." Leadership skills are brought to the table before the position is filled, not during especially in this uncertain business climate.

It is humorous to me how many companies have the wrong person in the top highest positions in the company. I have worked with many Fortune 100 companies whose president, senior VP of sales or marketing is an ex. accountant, consultant or even an engineer. Don't get me wrong, these are incredible and prestigious careers, but why are then running the show? Is it they were really qualified or were they in the right place at the right time and there was no one else able to fill the position?

As an example let's say a former accountant is presently the president of the company, and part of that job description is the responsibility of sales for the organization. Have they ever been through a sales course by an outside professional, or even a sales management class or program? If they don't understand the process how can they administer the action plan and relate to the progress or lack there of.

Many "top brass" only look at the "bottom line" numbers and cannot understand why they have the problem or really how to fix it. Sometimes they simply rely on the person or people who caused the lackluster sales or marketing efforts to repair the damage they created in the first place. Yep, the old dog chasing the tail. Or worse yet some companies actually bring in new people or consulting firm with less of a clue, to fix the situation.

Most of everything I have learned has already been done by very wise people in top organizations with huge budgets for training and development.

Let's go back 30 years or so and look at these outstanding run companies and why they also had the best-trained people. These names should ring a bell. Xerox, IBM, Proctor and Gamble, AT&T, NCR, 3M, and Disney. At present, one company is near bankruptcy, another lost tremendous market share, one was split up by the government and never recovered, two of them tried to sell too many unrelated products etc, and lost their direction and focus, and they last thought carbon paper was the future and not copy machines.

Oh yeah, one company is still strong and still renown for their training and their world-class customer service…Disney.

These companies I just mentioned were the best of the best with incredible sales and management philosophies that got the job done. But overtime, whether they lost the competitive edge, due dropping the ball or lack of R&D, they lost their direction, and never regained the incredible prestige of past years.

Why did this happen? One major problem was cutbacks in their incredible training or a "different direction they might have taken." Years ago, if you were ex. IBM or Xerox, you got to pick your job if you left because your new employer knew you were "trained."

The plan was simple!

  • Managers were in the filed as coaches. They did not go in for a player; they were on the sidelines and observed the employees do their respective job.
  • Today we talk about executive coaching and still very few top executives have gone through any time of coaching or shadowing by an outside expert.
  • Think more of your family. We spend more time with our staff than our kids and yet we "show our kids how to do things and we still tell our employees what to do."
  • The best run companies spend more time with employees as a coach or an observer, rather than being in an office or a meeting and managing paper.
  • Lastly think of training as a golf lesson. Which would you want, someone telling you how to swing the club, etc. or a golf pro giving you a lesson and watching you practice the lesson?

In summary: The better trained we are, which is an ongoing never ending process, along with less unproductive meetings, and our management acting as coaches, the better run the business will be…plain and simple!

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