Employee retention doesn’t have to be a big problem!

Did you know that in today’s workforce we have four to five generations of workers?  This made me think of the businesses I know that truly understand how to manage the various challenges that come with a diverse workforce.  I get into many organizations and have the privilege to talk with many business owners on a daily and weekly basis. In recent discussions with some organizations, I hear their main concern is retaining the employees they have and stopping the employee turnover they are experiencing.  From other organizations, this topic does not come up unless I bring it up. I was curious why some businesses have huge retention issues and others do not.   In my opinion, there are many reasons for this, one overarching reason for poor retention is The Boss’s lack of understanding of the several generations in their present-day workforce.  Here are a few points to think about; First, I have been carrying an AARP card in my wallet for more than a decade now.  In my generation, I was trained in an autocratic management style. If you didn’t like what The Boss said and didn’t comply with The Boss’s demands, you would often hear, “My way or […]

What’s a customer worth? If you roll the dice, you could “crap out!”

In a recent manager’s meeting I attended, there was a discussion regarding a poor performing employee who was disrupting co-workers and exemplifying very poor customer service.  The Boss’s initial knee-jerk reaction he said, “Fire her!”. The employee’s supervising manager was lobbying The Boss to keep her on duty until he could hire a replacement to take her place.  This is a service business already operating in an understaffed position due to a low unemployment environment and lack of qualified applicants. A position that most employers are experiencing in today’s economy.  As I listened to the discussion, I began to hear The Boss’s position change as he was being sawed by the supervising manager. After a while, I began to ask a few questions to get their attention.  What does it cost to lose a customer? How hard is it to gain a new customer?  We already know how challenging it is to find good workers in today’s world. I continued, in my experience when a company retains a bad employee, it is hard for the very good employees to justify staying with the company.  The good employees leave not because they cannot do the job, they leave because they do […]

Begin to change the culture with weekly manager’s meetings

After a few months of working in an organization and strategizing with The Boss I begin to know the business in a more intimate manner. At first, I want to understand the operations of the business to determine if the organization has a sustainable business model to build upon. I also begin to have extended conversations with the employees, beginning with the department heads and then the rank and file employees. By doing so I begin to understand the company culture. I determine if the culture is a healthy culture or if the culture is hindering the business in any way. I often find company cultures to be either one of accountability or one of enablement. If the culture is one of accountability, it is much easier to accomplish The Bosses goals for the business. If the culture is one of enablement, I often find an atmosphere of blame and mistrust between The Boss, management, and the employees. If a culture of enablement exists, change is necessary. Change of responsibilities and often a change of staff. Everyone is encouraged to accept the changes The Boss and I implement as we move towards a culture of accountability. This change can result […]

Give Your Employees a Forum to Improve Communications

When I enter an organization, I am considered a “change agent” and The Boss expects things to be different after I have engaged with the company.  After a good bit of time observing the culture and interviewing the employees, I set off to improve the organizations profitability and ultimately the owner’s equity.  I usually have a top five areas that I look at for improvements.  One of those areas is communications. Recently I began working with an organization with five department heads.  I asked The Boss how often they meet as a group.  He stated they did not and there was no reason to as he had an “open-door policy” and any one of his people could come and talk with him at any given time.  After more discussions, I found the main reason was money.  He ultimately said he calculated the hourly salary cost of each manager and to have them all in one meeting at a time would be too expensive for the company as they were experiencing lean cash flow.  I said I understand as I would do the same calculations in my companies, but I did not see the salaries as an expense but an investment. […]

Guident Newsletter – November 2018 – Issue 31

How do I begin to change from an “enablement” culture to an “accountability” culture? In past newsletters, I have written about the challenges facing business owners when they have an “enablement” culture versus an “accountability” culture.  Recently I began working with The Boss to change a company’s enablement culture to an accountability culture. I asked the six supervisors in this organization to list the eight most critical job duties of each of their direct reports.  Then I asked the employees of these supervisors to list what they thought their eight most critical job duties were. In the next step, we compared what the supervisors identified as critical and what their employees reported as their most critical.  In most cases, the supervisors and direct reports were in-line on about five or six of the most critical job duties. This left us with an opportunity to improve efficiencies and workflow. Efficiencies can be gained when employees understand what The Boss sees as most critical to the company’s success and in turn their success.  The other duties listed by employees, but not seen as most critical by The Boss, were taking valuable time away from the truly critical duties necessary for the organization […]

Guident Newsletter – July 2018 – Issue 27

Think of your business as a spider web Are you considering writing a strategic plan for your business?  When you do, think of your strategic plan using a spider web model, begin with these key areas in mind; management, production, marketing, human resources, finance, sales, and purchasing.  Each of these seven areas acts as anchor points of the spider web. When one of these areas is doing poorly, the others are affected, like pinging one side of a spider web and watching the opposite side vibrate.  To demonstrate I explain when sales are low, financials in the form of cash flow are affected. When HR has to lower the staff count due to cash flow issues, then production is affected. When purchasing is out of sync with the rest of the company, then production and financials can be affected.  You get the picture. If this seems familiar and is happening to your organization, then changes are in order.  Begin your process by evaluating each of these seven areas to determine which area is strong and which area is a weak link within your business.  Most often the financials are a weak link and your first target for change. I cannot […]

Guident Newsletter – June 2018 – Issue 26

Release that stranglehold you have on your company. Most often when I am contracted to come into a business it is because The Boss has asked me to help solve a problem that has The Boss stumped. During one of my first conversations with The Boss, I usually state that the solutions are often found within the organization. I am most often told, “Not in my business, I have looked everywhere for the cause of the problem and I can’t find it.” It has been my experience that it doesn’t take long for someone from outside the organization with a fresh set of eyes to identify the issue(s). In a recent client call, I had to confront The Boss and say, “That stranglehold you have around the throat of your business is the issue!” The Boss looks at me with a bewildered look and then says, “What the heck are you talking about?” I am talking about the stranglehold The Boss has on the talent in the business, the smart knowledgeable people who know the issues and know some of the solutions but are not able to act because The Boss wants to control everything. The Boss has a stranglehold, […]

Guident Newsletter – October 2017 – Issue 18

Culture: Enablement or Accountability? The business owner, “The Boss”, establishes the culture in an organization.  It can be a culture of enablement or a culture of accountability. Often when I am asked to help with a company I discover the culture is one of enablement.  Even worse The Boss is the worst enabler of them all.   Enablement hurts productivity, causes safety issues, and undermines company morale.  Here is an example that drives the lesson home. I was working in my office one day and I got a call from Dave, he was our area OSHA representative whom I knew well.  It is important to get to know these people before they show up at your door for an official visit. I knew Dave from some volunteer work we did together for the area YMCA. He was a good guy and we were on a first name basis.  Well, he called me to tell me he was sitting in his office looking out the window and he saw one of my service technicians working in the bucket truck fixing a lighting fixture.  He said the technician had his lanyard hooked to his belt, not the bucket.  Of course, this was an […]

Guident Newsletter – June 2017 – Issue 14

Does your company have a seat at the table? For many years I have seen owners of small to mid-size businesses manage their companies like they were one of their children or dependents.  Then when things go awry they call people like me for help.  My advice to them is to “corporatize” their companies. I often see business owners who think of themselves and their businesses as one entity.  These owners act as if the business could not function without them; they feel as if they are the lifeline to the organization.  This is almost always not the case.  Any company which is to be sustainable must not be dependent on any one individual, no matter how important that position is within the organization. To demonstrate this I often pull a chair up to the table where we are working and ask the owner to imagine that the business is occupying that chair.  As you can imagine they look at me as if I’ve lost it!  I ask them if they can personally fund the next payroll.  They usually say, “well no”.  I tell them that the company can and does.  I ask them if they can make rent, make the […]