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. […]

Don’t underestimate what your employees don’t know

While evaluating a new client, I participated in their management meeting where The Boss and the department managers were reviewing their financial performance from the past month. They were evaluating the financials by department, going over the expenditures line-by-line. I began to ask questions about the sources of the expenses. I received some very vague answers in some cases and in others, I was told, “I have no idea”. I observed that the department managers didn’t know what “success” looked like. They didn’t have a year-over-year comparison to benchmark their performance, nor did they have an annual operating budget to use as a goal for the month, quarter, and year. I asked The Boss if he set goals for his managers. He said he shouldn’t have to, they are the managers and they should know what they must do to be profitable. “That’s what I pay them for” was one of his responses. I said I understood his position and I often run across owners who have this same viewpoint. But this approach by The Boss will not create the results in the owner’s equity that The Boss desires. After interviewing each of the department managers, I gained some more […]

“What “The Boss” stresses the employees accomplish, make it the right message!

What “The Boss” stresses the employees accomplish, make it the right message! When I first begin working with a company I sit in on the manager’s meeting and just listen.  What I often find is that the staff is focused on what The Boss stresses as important. They instruct their direct reports to accomplish the goals set forth by The Boss in these department meetings.  The problem I sometimes see is that The Boss is sending the wrong message or a partial message. For example, in one meeting during a review of the prior months’ financials, each department head reported out to The Boss what their actual revenues were compared to the annual budgeted numbers.  Then The Boss asked what the budgeted revenue goals were for the next month and how each department manager was going to achieve those revenue goals. Afterward, The Boss was expressing frustration to me in the lack of gross profit from each department as it pertains to the annual budget goal.  During our discussion, I asked if the departments were hitting their revenue goals and The Boss said “Yes, as a matter of fact, the total revenue for the company was ahead of last year […]

Guident Newsletter – December 2018 – Issue 32

The Boss needs to be “The Coach” for the team I began working with a company where “The Boss” was frustrated and exhausted.  The Boss was playing the roles of operations manager, sales manager, and being The Boss over the entire company.  The Boss had begun the company many years ago and the revenues had grown into the millions of dollars. Now The Boss felt like he had a “tiger by the tail” and was just hanging on without really controlling anything.    I asked The Boss why he felt he needed to fill the management roles for all the departments and The Boss stated none of his employees were ready to take on the responsibilities.  The Boss was a big sports fan, so I used a sports analogy to explain what I was seeing. The Boss had several key positions open on his team and was waiting for an MVP player to show up to occupy those positions.  Because The Boss felt he did not have an MVP player on his team, The Boss left the positions vacant or tried to fill them himself. Imagine if he was coaching a football team and the right tackle position on the […]

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 – October 2018 – Issue 30

Step #1 – You are a business first! When I first begin working with a new business, I often hear business owners say they are printers, landscapers, mechanics, etc.  The first step in changing a culture and growing a business is to change the way the business owner sees their company. You are a business owner who is first running a business that happens to do printing, you are a business owner who is first running a business that happens to do landscaping, and you are a business owner who is first running a business that happens to repair automobiles.  It’s a new discipline for most small to midsize business owners who relate the business to their personal talents. One of the businesses I was a partner in was a sign company.  We built the types of signs you see on the street corners and on the fronts of buildings.  We had a talented workforce, but the business was stagnant. In order for us to grow the business, we had to change the way we thought of ourselves.  Most all of our employees see our business as a sign company building signs. The business had the ability to be much […]

Guident Newsletter – September 2018 – Issue 29

Ten Good Old Rules! In my office, I have a small piece of paper with “Ten Good Old Rules” on it.  Back in 2001, I found these ten rules in the fall issue of a business magazine named, Business Edge.  I have been carrying these rules around for going on sixteen years so I thought it would be a good topic for this newsletter.  Here they are in the order they appeared in the 2001 issue; Control expenses Emphasize cash flow over growth Conserve cash reserves Eliminate or reduce unprofitable product or service lines Maximize efficiencies in the usage of energy, materials, and labor Reduce inventories Reduce or eliminate the number of free services Take advantage of lower prices for essential goods and services Watch for opportunities to acquire a competitors’ business if offered at a bargain rate Don’t get emotional; it’s just business Let’s break them down by the numbers.  #1 Control expenses by creating an annual operating budget and analyzing each month using the actual versus budget function from your accounting software you will be able to see what expenses are on target and which ones need attention.  #2 Emphasize cash flow overgrowth; often I see businesses with […]

Guident Newsletter – August 2018 – Issue 28

Change is hard for this old guy, so what did I do?”  I did my research.  Recently, I hired a marketing firm to work with my company, Guident Business Solution, LLC, because I thought I needed a “subject matter expert” to help me evaluate how I communicate the benefits of my company in today’s dynamic business environment.  Even though I was the one who initiated the relationship with a very well-known professional company I had resisted making some of the changes they suggested.  One such change was the re-design of my company logo which I have had since 2009 when I started the company and by the way, I designed the logo myself.  I don’t know why I resisted, maybe because I designed it or because I invested significantly in promoting the logo in the market.  So, what did I do?  I went on a quest to prove that my logo was the better design of course.  After all, I am the business owner and I launched this company many years ago and just to be sure, we are doing very well helping businesses succeed and grow.  Why change something that is not broken I thought!  So, I began to […]