Guident Newsletter – May 2018 – Issue 25

If it’s not wrong, it must be right, right? As a business consultant, I’ve been privileged to work with business owners who wanted to improve their operations and increase their bottom line results.   During this process, I get to know their businesses intimately, and in doing so, we often uncover inefficiencies and sometimes errors in tasks performed by employees who are doing what they feel is “the right thing.” Once these errors are uncovered, “The Boss” often wants to react quickly with disciplinary actions or other penalties which they feel are appropriate for the mistake.  I caution them to first “look in the mirror” with regards to their own miss-steps. When I talk with the employee(s), who have been doing these tasks they often explain that they didn’t fully understand their job because of a poor onboarding process and/or poor training practices.   They told me they really were not sure if what they were doing was correct and “The Boss” was often not around to ask. This will happen in smaller companies where “The Boss” wears several hats and is often “on the move” to get things done. The employee will say they did what they felt was best and […]

Guident Newsletter – April 2018 – Issue 24

So you want to start a business, throw out the Jokers! When I was a child, my sisters and I would like to play a card game called Rummy 500.  Those of you who know this game understand the goal is to reach 500 points before anyone else.  In Rummy all cards are counted as their face value except the Jokers.  They were considered “wild cards,” and we could make them equal to any card in the deck. When I was in college, my buddies and I would like to play Poker.  When I played with them, we were serious and played for money.  Because we were playing for money, we didn’t have “wild cards,” and we didn’t use the Jokers. I often advise people who are considering starting a new business to throw out the Jokers, eliminating them from the deck.  When starting a new business, the Jokers were not “wild cards” but “failure cards.”  The thought of failure is not an option when starting a new business.  You cannot even have the “Failure Card” in the deck because when the going gets tough, and it will, you don’t want to be tempted to throw that “Failure Card” onto […]

Guident Newsletter – February 2018 – Issue 22

Does it matter how the towels are folded? Once in awhile, I get a chance to ride along with a project manager or foremen to visit a job site.  This gets me out of the client’s office and onto a job site, but more importantly, it allows me time to talk with employees in a neutral environment, usually a pickup truck.  On my last ride-a-long, I heard about a business owner who was a micromanager.  He set the policies and procedures for all areas of his company.  Now he has every right to do so, but at times it could be counterproductive. In this situation, I asked the employee how he would change a procedure to improve a problem area we were discussing.  He gave me a comprehensive outline that seemed to have a lot of merits and could improve efficiencies.  I asked if he suggested it to The Boss.  He just smiled at me and said, “When was the last time you remember ‘The Boss’ changing his mind?”  Well, I thought about it, and he did have a point.  The Boss didn’t change his mind often, ok seldom if ever.  I thought about this ride and the lessons the […]

Guident Newsletter – November 2017 – Issue 19

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) well worth it! One of my clients wanted to know how to increase profits without raising prices. I asked if they had established SOP’s in the various departments. The Boss said that would be impossible and way too costly and time-consuming. I then asked if they had any SOP’s. The answer was no. The Boss said if one of his managers wanted to set up SOP’s with me that would be fine as long as it didn’t take away from his productivity. I found this statement to be curious as SOP’s more often than not will enhance productivity and efficiencies. The service manager volunteered to work with me as his department was always lagging behind the other departments which were granted more resources. Our job one was to observe the current procedures and then talk with the crew members asking how we could improve their processes. During one morning break I showed up with a Starbuck’s cardboard coffee carafe and a dozen donuts and we began to talk. In the fifteen minutes we had during their break period we came up with many procedures that, when implemented, had the potential to improve efficiencies. The manager and […]

Guident Newsletter – August 2017 – Issue 16

Does it matter how the towels are folded? Once in a while, I get a chance to ride along with a project manager or foremen to visit a job site. This gets me out of the client’s office and onto a job site, but more importantly, it allows me time to talk with employees in a neutral environment, usually a pickup truck. On my last ride-a-long, I heard about a business owner who was a micro-manager. He set the policies and procedures for all areas of his company. Now he has every right to do so but at times it could be counterproductive. In this situation, I asked the employee how he would change a procedure to improve a problem area we were discussing. He gave me a comprehensive outline that seemed to have a lot of merit and could improve efficiencies. I asked if he suggested it to The Boss. He just smiled at me and said, “When was the last time you remember ‘The Boss’ changing his mind?” Well, I thought about it and he did have a point. The Boss didn’t change his mind often, ok seldom if ever. I thought about this ride and the lessons […]

Guident Newsletter – July 2017 – Issue 15

Have you ever worked for someone who could see the future? As young managers, most of us had the privilege of being mentored by an old sage in our organizations.  I remember working with one such person who always seemed to know the future.  He seemed to have the power to see around blind corners and to know what was coming.  I often would ask him, “How did you know that was going to happen?”  Mind you this was way before using “The Force” and “Star Wars” was popular! How does this work?  It is the difference between a reactive or proactive leader.  A proactive leader will anticipate various scenarios the company or organization may encounter around that blind corner.  They are proactively developing contingency plans (strategies) for each of the probable scenarios.  They have those various strategies in their “back pockets”, at-the-ready to employ when the threat or opportunity presents itself.  When the time is right, the proactive leader simply chooses the best solution and takes full advantage of the situation. To the rank and file employees, it looks like the leader knew exactly what was going to happen.  This ability to seemingly be able to see the future […]

Guident Newsletter – April 2017 – Issue 12

I thought I was a good communicator, not so much! At one time in my career, I was a partner in a manufacturing company with a multi-million dollar annual budget.  I pride myself on being a good communicator and I was, at work.  I remember one particular month when we experienced a $20,000 operating loss.  I was frustrated with our poor performance and called all managers into an executive meeting to assess the root cause of the problem and to develop a strategy to correct the operations so we would not have to experience this type of loss again.  I was satisfied we had the problem identified and a good plan of action going forward.  Nonetheless, I was still very frustrated with our poor performance. Later in the day when I arrived home my wife was at the kitchen counter preparing our meal for the night.  She sensed that I was frustrated and asked what was wrong.  I said, “We had a terrible month and lost $20,000.” I immediately went outside to “shoot some buckets” in our driveway.   This was one of the ways I de-stressed at the end of the day.  After a while, I was feeling much better […]

Guident Newsletter – October 2016 – Issue 6

Who are your “Leaders’ without Stripes”? When I am asked by business owners to assist with changing the culture within their organization, I often ask, “Do you know who your “leaders’ without stripes” are?”  Business owners are some of the most prolific people within the organization.  They are constantly coming up with innovative ways to improve their businesses.  While working with one business owner to change the culture in his organization I observed this exchange… The business owner delivered a speech to the organization describing a new policy to improve their culture.  A young apprentice was walking back to his department after this meeting and asked his foreman, “What do you think?  I think “The Boss” has a great idea there.”  The foreman has been with the company for a long time and has seen a lot of “stuff” come and go within the organization.  His response to the young apprentice was, “Listen, you work for me!  This is another one of “The Bosses” ideas that will fissile out in a week or two.  You do what I tell you or you’ll answer to me!”  The young apprentice agreed and stepped in line with his foreman. The question becomes, “Who […]

Guident Newsletter – September 2016 – Issue 5

Every Business Owner Should Own a White Shirt! I once had a client who owned an auto repair business.  He was a very good mechanic and worked on cars all the time.  You could often find several cars and trucks in his back yard waiting to be worked on.  As his family grew, his wife wanted the vehicles out of the yard.  His solution was to start a business and open a shop of his own.   He called me because his banker was asking him for accurate financial statements. He would work 12 hours a day under the hood of a car and then spend a half hour every other day trying to get caught up on his bookwork.  I would visit him every week on a specific day, let’s say Tuesday, for 90 minutes.  During our initial conversations, actually all the time we worked together, he would give me grief that I wore a white shirt.  As you know, he would say, anyone who wears a white shirt all the time definitely is not working.  He would wear the typical blue and grey stripped mechanic’s shirt covered with grease and dirt stains.  Often times when I first came to […]