Writen by Hans Bool

Although I would rather not choose and take events as they come, I have learned that choice is inevitable. With utilities like Internet choosing is becoming even more difficult.

One option that is recurring in business is the one where you ought to choose between self production and the leverage on the work of others. You come across this choice in IT where outsourcing – leverage on third parties – is quite common nowadays and also the choice to tailor made a system or to buy a package that provides 80% of the functionality.

Yet in other areas, closer to home, you have to make similar selections. Sometimes you are not even aware that you could choose otherwise.

Take for instance the situation where you should explain to your customer where your company is located. How does this work? Let's say that the company in question has a website on which it would like to inform potential customers and prospects. You are the webmaster or designer. What is your approach?

You could start with the address, than you could draw a map and finally you could give some directions on how the get there using either car, train or bus.

The other option is to hook up to software on the market that does this for you. There are plenty of geographical support tools, route planners and the like to interface to. Yet this requires a different mindset.

If you choose the first option you can start right away, you are not dependent on others and you can tailor it to your needs and wishes. In the other way you are limited by the features of the third party solution.

There are pro's and con's for either solution. Yet, these days, networking is still gaining importance. If you can leverage on others you probably get the job done with less resources, but in many times not exactly the way you want. It's a simple dilemma that rules many business issues currently.

Your approach as a manager should be to communicate the main approach: leverage on the work of others or taking the risk of reinventing the wheel.

If you have read this, you can answer for our self what your own approach would be.

© 2005 Hans Bool / Astor White

Astor White is a traditional consulting company where Internet is the main interaction medium. By offering online tools we can address management issues in hours what normally would take days of consultancy. Astor White. Committed to your management issues. On a distance.

Crm The Emperors New Clothes

Writen by Meredith Gossland

The story of the emperor's new clothes is a fairy tale about men who fooled the emperor into believing that they had made him a beautiful suit of clothes. In fact they had not made anything. The emperor went out in public wearing nothing but his underwear because he didn't want to appear stupid since they had told him only the wisest people could see the fine fabrics.When the emperor went out in public a little child yelled..."The emperor isn't wearing any clothes!" Today I am that child.

"CRM doesn't cover your mistakes or fix your problems and you have been lied to about its ability to "manage" your client relationships!" CRM is a system that is based on faulty logic. The premise that companies can manage clients is foolish!

Business 101 will tell you that clients manage businesses. They tell the company what to sell, when to sell it, how to sell it, where to sell it, and will stop buying it on a whim depending upon a long list of uncontrollable situations (they are getting older, economic circumstances, politics, trends, health issues etc etc.)

What does CRM do? It lulls CEOs, sales and marketing department heads into believing that they can hold onto clients by using data alone. CRM bogs down sales & marketing teams and creates massive amounts of additional work, keeping them connected to their computers instead of visiting clients. CRM requires cleaning just like any other database and the larger the database the more time it takes to clean. The sharing of information within a company can, in some instances, actually slow down the process of customer service, since more people are now involved in decision making processes. The bottom line of customer service is pushed to the side and direct mail marketing moves forward. Direct mail marketing has abysmal response rates and even if it was improved is a poor alternative to actually communicating with clients.

Now is the time to go put on your clothes and fire the tailors!

You have spent a fortune in purchasing the software, you spent thousands of dollars on man-hours used up in training and retraining, sent memos and held staff meetings, paid tailors(I mean consultants), and still are no closer to getting customer loyalty than you were 6 months ago. As a matter of fact it may be worse because client services have suffered while you spent all this time getting CRM up and running. Cut your loses and run!

Now pull out a clean sheet of paper and write down this "to do" list...

1. Set goals for customer service that involve "WOW" customer service principles. Design a quality customer service program. Set a start date and end date for evaluation purposes.

2. Read a book a week on client relationship marketing and "WOW" customer service and give yourself a test to make sure you have retained the information. Then USE it! Make sure all your employees do the same to one degree or another.

3. Evaluate all your employees, are they happy, do the have a vested interest in your success, would they want to be your client? What is their body language on the job, enthusiastic, angry, indifferent, bored? Get rid of dead weight! If a customer is likely to meet your employees it MUST be a positive experience. Pay your front line employees what they are worth. Smiles and enthusiasm are worth at least $1.00 per hour.

3. Reduce advertising budget... increase marketing budget... understand the difference.

4. Cut out or reduce systems that tend to isolate you from your customers, voice mail mazes, advertising campaigns designed for the general public, autoresponders, self help kiosks or webpages, overseas customer service centers.

5. Increase communication through handwritten notes, visits with clients, feed back and brainstorming sessions that put the client and the business on the same side of the table as partners, reduce outsourcing, reward good clients frequently, use greeting cards with commerative stamps instead of postcards with bulk postage ( Customers think, "If I'm not worth 37 cents you don't need my business."), put some thought into client gifts (diabetics don't appreciate candy) and finally ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, ask, for referrals! Then ask for referrals again.

Don't look to CRM to solve the problems of customer loyalty. Look at your relationships with your clients.

Meredith Gossland is owner of Lasting Impressions2, a Small business marketing service, specializing in multicultural marketing and high quality low cost customer service. she can be reached at info@lastingimpressions2.com. http://www.lastingimpressions2.com

Writen by Mike Teng

When you need a heart by-pass, you call in a cardiologist rather than a general practitioner. When you are in legal troubles, you consult a lawyer. When you have tax problems, you seek advice of a tax consultant. Yet many troubled companies make the fatal mistake of not approaching the right professional for help. Many try to get out of their conundrum using the internal management. Others rely on their lawyers, auditors, etc. These troubled businesses need to bring in turnaround experts and specialists. In fact, the management of some of these ailing companies behaves like a deer caught in the headlights, petrified and totally clueless on how to move forward.

As chief executives and chief financial officers fall from their grace over accounting irregularities and scandals, turnaround managers, with familiar titles such as chief restructuring officers, turnaround specialists or artists, corporate doctors are taking charge of distressed companies to get them up to speed again. In the US, troubled companies such as WorldCom Inc, Enron Corp, Kmart Corp have appointed turnaround specialists to restructure their businesses. Since he Asian financial crisis, even Malaysia has enlisted the use of professionals, armed with impressive credentials rather than political ties to shake up the government-linked companies. For instance, in 1998, the former premier brought in the first batch of turnaround experts to head the Umno-linked companies and asset management firm Danaharta.

Some of these turnaround experts who generally have a background in business, accounting, finance or operations are called in by the creditors or board of directors who lose faith in the management. In most instances, these specialists have had a significant experience as a CEO, CFO, CIO or COO provide a sense of credibility and glimmer of hope to the board, investors and creditors. . They are a special breed of talent, as they have to be entrepreneurs, visionaries, redesign architects and crisis managers all rolled into one. They have to create resources out of liabilities, find opportunities where none is apparent and travel down uncharted paths to fix "unsolvable" problems. In essence, they have to create value by reinventing the company.

Unfortunately, no company seeking to turn around would run an advertisement that says: "Company not making money and need turnaround specialist. Send in your application." There are many ways of finding quality professionals to enable you to fix your business. The first place to start looking for a turnaround specialist is to contact your banker, lawyer, external auditor, large accounting firms and various business chambers and associations. Through their previous collaborations, these parties may have the contacts of specialist with the requisite skills

Another way to find the turnaround specialist is to contact those who understand the company's situation such as current employees, company's board of directors and advisors and associates. But one has to exercise care in the selection process. There are many professionals who profess to be turnaround specialists but are actually only financial people who are preoccupied with cost-cutting measures. It takes much more than mere cost cutting to turn around an ailing business. Certainly, such skills and knowledge are important but it is only part of the answer.

Besides having actual turnaround experience, turnaround specialist needs to have a broad understanding of the industry. He or she needs some understanding of the industry. Normally time is not on the side of the turnaround specialists to show results. Therefore if he understands the industry it can facilitate and shorten the learning curve and quickly bring in business through his contacts.

The specialist also needs to have gone through adversity and shows track record of successfully turning around troubled businesses. Successful managers in healthy companies will not cut it as they have not had to work with low-morale employees, creditors screaming for payments and diminishing market share as clients switch to the competitors.

Sadly, most of these restructuring experts are brought in too late. As the restructuring should have been carried out yesterday. Consequently, the success rate of turnaround is very low.

Therefore, when you need surgery, call in the surgeon quickly. Do not delay as it can be fatal.

http://www.corporateturnaroundexpert.com

Dr Mike Teng (DBA, MBA, BEng, FIMechE, FIEE, CEng, PEng, FCMI, FCIM, SMCS) is the author of the best-selling business book "Corporate Turnaround: Nursing a sick company back to health", in 2002. In 2006, he authored another book entitled, "Corporate Wellness: 101 Principles in Turnaround and Transformation." Dr Teng is widely recognized as a turnaround CEO in Asia by the news media. He has 27 years of experience in corporate responsibilities in the Asia Pacific region. Of these, he held Chief Executive Officer's positions for 17 years in multi-national, local and publicly listed companies. He led in the successful turnaround of several troubled companies. He is currently the Managing Director of a business advisory firm, Corporate Turnaround Centre Pte Ltd, which assists companies on a fast track to financial performance. Dr Teng was the President of the Marketing Institute of Singapore (2000 – 2004), the national body representing some 5000 individual and corporate marketing professionals in Singapore

Writen by Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Executive business coaching is a proven management strategy to help increase the management wins for business teams whether Fortune 1000 companies or small businesses. A recent report by Management Research Group released in May of 2006 that surveyed 6,000 companies and 800,000 individuals in 100 counties suggested that executive coaching by its focus on the whole person increases the effectiveness the management team as leaders.

In an earlier study of a Fortune 500 company in 2001, Dr. Merrill Anderson of MetrixGlobal determined that executive business coaching resulted in a 529% return on investment ( ROI ). For every dollar spent in coaching, $529 were returned to the company through increased performance. Additional studies from Dell, IBM, Kodak and other companies have helped to catapult this new business and change management strategy.

Sports teams have known for years that a good coach creates a winning team and winning teams achieve more goals. Coaches have the ability to build relationships with their charges and create an environment of introspection and reflection. Coaching is not a new strategy, but one that is showing increased measurable results.

For example, an internal report of the Personnel Management Association suggested that when training is combined with coaching, individuals increase their productivity by an average of 86% compared to 22% with training alone. Another survey by Manchester, Inc. of 100 executives discovered that executive coaching provided an average return on investment of almost six times the cost of coaching. The Hay Group reported that 40% of Fortune 500 companies use Executive coaching.

Executive coaching can increase the management wins for any organization provided there is:

  • Alignment to the strategic plan
  • Identification of pre-determined benchmarks
  • Partnership with education and training programs
  • Selection of results focused executive coaches
  • Implementation of a proven coaching process
  • Continuous improvement or quality processes in place
  • Corporate culture where top management walks the talk

Yes, executive coaching is a proven strategy and may be just the solution that you are seeking to increase your management wins. Just make sure that if you implement this solution, that it is not a silo solution, but one that works with the entire organization.

P.S.: Read the third article in this series How to Improve the Management Teams Wins for Winning More Business Part 3: Focus on Strengths.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith coaches small businesses to large organizations and high school students to entrepreneurs to double performance by closing the gap between today's outcomes and tomorrow's goals. Please feel free to contact Leanne at 219.759.5601 or visit http://www.processspecialist.com/ and explore how she can help you from the free articles to the improvement tips.

One quick question,if you could secure one new client or breakthrough that one roadbloack, what would that mean to you? Then, take a risk and give a call at 219.759.5601 to experience incredible business.

Mention that you read this article and receive a complimentary 60 minute coaching session.

Business Relationship Germs

Writen by Bill Lee

In management seminars I often compare debt to an infection. A reasonable amount of debt will not kill a business, but too much debt will. While most businesses carry a substantial amount of debt from time to time, it must be maintained in an acceptable relationship to stockholder's equity.

Infection is also a threat in business relationships. How serious the illness your business' relationships experience depends on how effective management is at controlling business relationship germs that are spread around in the normal course of doing business.

The following are a few of the relationship germs I'm referring to. Managers must understand them and control them to keep their business relationships healthy.

Belittling your employees. Your company's best and most productive employees have more options than ever. With so many options, employees have the luxury of demanding respect. So if you observe your managers belittling, putting down or showing disrespect to the people in the organization, corrective action is called for.

Seeing more negatives than positives. Is the glass half full or half empty in your organization? When employees break rules, make mistakes or violate company policies, these issues certainly need to be discussed and dealt with. However, when employees do something that you perceive to be over and above the call of duty, they also deserve praise.

In the little management book, The One-Minute Manager by Kenneth H. Johnson, the "one-minute praising" is recommended when employees are observed doing something right. To be most effective, "praisings" must occur as soon as possible following the positive behavior and should be as specific as possible.

Failure to provide employee feedback. Employees deserve to know where they stand and in professionally managed organizations, feedback is typically given via a formal performance review.

What is the employee turnover in your organization? Are your operating expenses higher than necessary due to excessive employee churn? Excessive employee turnover is a sign that your people are either not earning a competitive wage or management is not communicating clearly.

Poor customer care behavior. Competitors are highly motivated to begin more aggressive attacks on your customer base. Because so many of your industry's less professional salespeople will employ low-ball pricing tactics as bait, more attention than ever must be paid to how well your company is treating its customer base.

The owner or general manager should be on a first-name basis with each of the customers that make up the top 80% of your sales. A manager should visit each top customer at least on a quarterly basis, showing genuine and sincere interest in their business and asking what the company can do to improve the efficiency of their operations.

Invite customers and prospects onto your turf. Organize customer seminars, hold an open house, invite vendors to conduct new product demonstrations, launch a customer newsletter, etc.

Bill Lee works with managers who want to put more money on the bottom line and author of Gross Margin: 26 Factors Affecting Your Bottom Line. $29.95 + $6 S&H. Bill's newest book is 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot. $21.95 plus $6 S&H.

http://www.BillLeeOnLine.com
Email: blee@BillLeeOnLine.com

http://www.mygrossmargin.com
Email: blee@mygrossmargin.com

Writen by Graeme Nichol

The economy may finally be turning around and showing signs of a rebound. Interest rates have begun to rise and the stock market is recovering from the lows it experienced in the last couple of years. Is your business ready to take advantage of these improving times? Can you translate these improvements into increased profits? You can. Read on…

Wouldn't you like to see your profits increase? Sure, but in reality, what influence do you have over any increase? Create a forecast and have profits appear, wow, if only that were true! You have no impact on profits but you do have an impact on the factors that generate your business profits.

Profits are influenced by five factors. These are: number of leads, conversion rate, average dollar sale, number of transactions and profit margin.

Number of Leads x Conversion Rate = Customers x Average $$ Sale x Number of Transactions = Revenue x Profit Margin = Profit

A mere 10% increase in each of the five factors will lead to a 21% increase in customers, a 46% increase in revenues and a phenomenal 61% increase in profits. These percentages seem incredible but a little effort directed in the right areas can mean a huge difference.

Let us consider the first two factors: number of leads multiplied by conversion rate results in the number of customers. So how can you generate leads and then convert those leads to customers?

The best known method of increasing leads is advertising. Every business that wants to increase the number customers needs to use some form of advertising. How many methods do you apply? How many different adverts do you test each week? Equally important is knowing how to write an advert that brings in customers. How good is your headline? How good is your copy? How amazing is your offer? Other methods of increasing the number of leads include public relations, direct mail and trade shows, amongst others. How many do you currently use?

It is all very well that customers show up at your store or call for a quote but can your team convert those leads to customers? How does your business assure these leads spend money? Again there are a large number of ways to increase your conversion rate some of those include a trained sales team with a tested sales script, a checklist, and asking for the sale.

Once you have increased the number of customers that buy from you, the next step is to increase your business revenue. Again you cannot directly influence revenue, but it is obtained by multiplying the number of customers by the average dollar sale and then by the number of transactions each customer makes. These three factors multiplied together generate Revenues.

It is easier to get current customers to spend more with you than it is to find a new customer. Think in terms of 'wallet share' not 'market share'. Once your business has a customer that is familiar with your level of service and the quality of product or service you offer convincing them to spend more with you is easier, more from their wallet!

You could increase the number of transactions your customers make by keeping in regular contact with them and informing them of new products, upgrades, and other general information. It is important that a past customer never forget your business, particularly if your business only sells to a customer once every three years, such as in auto sales. Stay in touch, use your database well.

Examples of ways businesses increase their average dollar sale, include the typical Biggie Size, or "fries with that?"; selling additional warranties on a product; charging for delivery and providing discounts for bulk buying. The most obvious and easiest way to increase the average dollar sale is to increase prices.

By increasing the last four factors discussed by only 10% a business will have been able to increase its revenue by 46%. What business would not be happy with a 46% increase in revenue?

Besides revenue, a business is most interested in profits. If revenue is multiplied by profit margins the business profits are obtained. Like the other factors profit margins too can also be increased using numerous methods. These include knowing your actual costs, reducing overheads, systematizing and not discounting.

To increase your business profits during 2004 you only need consider the five factors discussed above to make a marked improvement. A 10% improvement in each factor is not a lot to ask but even if you only increased each factor by 5% this will still result in a 28% increase in profits. Imagine what a business owner could do with a 28% increase in profits. Imagine a 61% increase in profits. These results are obtainable with a well focused effort.

GRAEME NICHOL, President, Arcturus Advisors.

http://www.arcturusadvisors.com/

Graeme Nichol has worked on 4 continents and in 117 unique businesses gaining experience in manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, communications, banking, direct marketing, consumer goods and retail amongst others. He has significant management experience and consulting experience, including Business strategy, project management, change management, big six consulting, team productivity, business productivity and quality improvement, ERP implementations.

Arcturus Advisors works with businesses and teams that are struggling to formulate a strategic plan that delivers bottom line results. Using tried and tested planning systems that have achieved results internationally for 20 years we ensure that you transform your business through focus, alignment and accountability.

Writen by Andrew E. Schwartz

Human communication is always three-dimensional. No spoken or written message is ever just words or rational thoughts. Every interchange between you and another person has and takes place at the following three intimately related levels, or dimensions, of being: emotional, physical, and rational. Any attempt to communicate will succeed if all of these dimensions are adhered to. Knowledge of this three-dimensional nature is the foundation of training. You can't get much closer to real understanding without these realizations.

This knowledge is the basis for the use of practically any training device or medium you can name. For example, knowledge of the existence of and need for rational content is the elemental basis for outlining that attempt and understanding the various ways of doing so. Similarly, knowledge of the existence of and need for physical content is the basis and reason for the use of any form of audio-visual aid, graphics, illustrations, or other sensory communicative device. Finally, an underlying grasp of the existence of and need for emotional content is the basis for the use of what is commonly known as emotion appeal in communicating an idea.

Think about these three dimensions of communication before your next training session and you will most definitely see a difference.

Copyright AE Schwartz & Associates All rights reserved. For additional presentation materials and resources: ReadySetPresent and for a Free listing as a Trainer, Consultant, Speaker, Vendor/Organization: TrainingConsortium

CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA., a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Writen by Tim Connor

Why not give the following quiz to your management staff. It will give you an idea of their understanding and application of some of the critical issues, concepts and techniques that have an impact on their performance and success as managers. If you feel your team could benefit from an in-depth custom in-house management training program, please give me a call. I will be happy to discuss a custom curriculum for your staff with you.

Other quizzes are also available on the following topics: Customer Service, Relationships, Sales, Happiness, Success, Motivation

See the end of this quiz for the answers

1. You should always praise in________________________________________________________

2. Listening is the most important management skill: True/False.

3. Most managers spend too little time planning. True/False.

4. You should always discipline in_____________________________________________________

5. Every employee can benefit from additional training. True/False.

6. All corporate culture flows_________________________________________________________

7. Morale is directly related to_________________________________________________________

8. Employee perceptions become______________________________________________________

9. One of the biggest weaknesses of most managers is______________________________________

10. Organization direction is one of the biggest employee___________________________________

11. Money and/or benefits is the number one issue with most employees. True/False.

12. Most employees feel they receive adequate recognition. True/False.

13. When you hire under pressure you always____________________________________________

14. One of the major responsibilities of a manager is to motivate their employees. True/False.

15. One of the biggest employee concerns is management___________________________________

16. Turnover is the direct result of_____________________________________________________

17. The best employees come in early and stay late. True/False.

18. Disagreement from an employee is a: positive/negative trait.

19. You can't motivate anyone. True/False.

20. Managers do not contribute to employee performance. True/False.

21. Most employees don't care about the organization's success. True / False.

22. Always inspect what you__________________________________________________________

23. You should solicit employee feedback on all issues. True/False.

24. You get the behavior you_________________________________________________________

25. Good managers hire weaker candidates. True/False.

26. You should only seek opinions that reinforce your opinions. True/ False.

27. Keeping a poor employee too long__________________________________________________

28. The purpose of negative feedback is to_______________________________________________

29. You should always hire attitudes rather than__________________________________________

30. You should delegate ____________________ and _____________________________________

31. Most managers are good interviewers. True/False.

32. Organizational goals should be communicated to employees: True/False

33. A vision statement is_____________________________________________________________

34. A mission statement is____________________________________________________________

35. Familiarity breeds contempt. True/False. 36. Employees like to feel in on things because___________________________________________

37. You should always consult employees when you make decisions that impact them. True/False.

38. You can manage your organization from behind your desk. True/False.

39. Always delegate activities rather than results. True/False.

40. Rules and policies should be flexible. True/False.

41. By not clearly communicating expectations to an employee you___________________________

42. It is important to really know your people. True/False.

43. A lack of empowered employees contributes to________________________________________

44. Having an open door policy always encourages employees to share issues. True/False.

45. Employees generally want more training. True/False.

46. Politics in an organization is inevitable. True/False.

47. It is impossible to eliminate rumor and hearsay. True/False.

48. Arrogance and ignorance are two of the biggest reasons why organizations fail. True/False.

49. As a manager you should always give the credit and take the_____________________________

50. When you promote your best employee you will always end up with a good manager.

True/False.

Correct Answers: Management Quiz

Keep in mind that the answers to several of the questions are subjective. In many cases there is no right or wrong answer only - a best or better answer. This quiz is not designed to give you an in-depth explanation for each answer but rather to stimulate your thinking. With this in mind let's take a look at what I believe - are some of the vital issues that impact management performance and ultimate organization success.

1. Public.
2. True.
3. True.
4. Private.
5. True.
6. Top-down.
7. Corporate culture, communication patterns, stress levels, management style.
8. Reality.
9. Failure to give timely positive and negative feedback.
10. Issues, concerns, frustrations, needs.
11. False.
12. False.
13. Hire beneath your standards.
14. False.
15. Direction.
16. See answer No. 7 - plus poor hiring, poor training, poor compensation plans.
17. False.
18. Can be both and it depends.
19. True.
20. False.
21. False.
22. Expect.
23. True.
24. Reward.
25. False.
26. False.
27. Is a sign of management weakness, sends the wrong message to other employees.
28. Change or modify behavior.
29. Skills.
30. Responsibility and authority.
31. False.
32. True.
33. A statement of direction, purpose, meaning.
34. Who you are, who your customers are, how you serve them, the business you are in.
35. False.
36. It makes them feel important, it builds trust and respect, they want to feel they belong to something bigger than themselves.
37. True.
38. False.
39. False.
40. True.
41. Improve their performance.
42. True.
43. Employee apathy, poor performance, lack of trust, lack of respect.
44. False.
45. True.
46. True.
47. True.
48. True.
49. Blame or responsibility.
50. False.

SCORING

50 correct answers……….You should be giving the test.
45-50 correct answers……….You understand the basics of effective management
40-45 correct answers……….There is hope for you yet.
35-40 correct answers………..With luck, you may make it as a manager.
30-35 correct answers………..You have a lot to learn. Better get started.
30 or less correct answers……You need help big-time – call me today.

2004, Tim Connor, Management Quiz

Tim Connor, CSP is an internationally renowned sales, relationship, management and leadership speaker, trainer and best selling author. Since 1981 he has given over 3500 presentations in 21 countries on a variety of sales, management and relationship topics. He is the best selling author of over 60 books including; He can be reached at tim@timconnor.com, 704-895-1230 or visit his website at http://www.timconnor.com.

Game On

Writen by T.J. Schier

Over the past few years, many quick serve chains have not only recognized the importance of guest and employee retention but have also created some unique games to add some fun to the workplace. While many managers can make a place fun to work, action drives happiness—not the other way around. If you look at the games created by many companies, you'll see they focus on driving business success in a fun fashion.

The Sonic Games have been around for quite a while. Success is realized by the manager passing knowledge quizzes, as well as the ability of the team to deliver a high level of speed and service. Prizes are earned as they progress through the games. The top 12 teams receive a trip to face off in a simulated rush. If you've ever dined at a Sonic drive-in and noticed the restaurant proudly displaying their "semifinalist" banner, you'll understand the business results obtained by, and consequently paid for by, the games.

Other chains such as Taco Bueno and Whataburger have introduced games to drive business results and used competition as a motivator to enhance the performance of their restaurants' teams. While other restaurants have lax standards, or softball games to drive camaraderie, the restaurant's performance doesn't change. Why? Because happiness doesn't change performance. Don't agree? Think of how many times you've walked into a restaurant and seen employees chatting, leaning, or giggling with their friends. They are very happy because they're getting paid for being allowed to do little work and talk with others. Again, happiness doesn't drive performance! When was the last time you saw a happy player on a last-place team?

Most employees want to win, so use that drive to your advantage. How?

• Create games for each position—highest check average, quickest time to make a burger, sandwich, taco or pizza.
• Post world records—let the team know how the other employees are doing in the areas of check average, suggestive selling, prep times, number of orders per hour, number of orders without a mistake and so on. Watch people start giving 110 percent to beat the record.
• Reward progress as well as champions—if people improve their performance, reward them. In football, you get a new set of downs if you get 10 yards. Apply the same mentality with your employees as they hit intermediate milestones so they'll continue moving forward.

Designing games and contests to improve your team's performance benefits the guests and your employees—so let the games begin!

T.J. Schier is service professional, consultant and speaker with over 20 years experience in operations and training. Founder and president of Incentivize Solutions and podTraining, T.J. has helped numerous clients enhance their service and training programs and spoken to tens of thousands of managers, franchisees and operators in various fields. Visit http://IncentivizeSolutions.com/ for more info motivating today's employees, training today's generation and delivering outstanding guest service; or http://podTraining.us/, a unique new system and the foundation of 'i-learning' - using the device of today's generation, the iPod - to train your workforce.

Writen by Peter Hunter

How many times when the subject of absenteeism comes up do we hear firstly that it is the fault of the workforce, and second that we know our staff are swinging the lead but we are secretly amused by the outrageous excuses they provide when they do turn up.

A problem that is costing industry in the UK £12.5 Billion annually surely deserves more respect.

How long before we stop treating the excuses we are given for absence and sickness with amusing condescension and start to appreciate the crippling costs that we are creating for our own industry?

When we accept responsibility for creating the conditions for our workforce that make them late or sick we will be halfway to discovering what we can do to reduce the impact of the problem on our ability to compete.

At work, part of the reason that we find the excuses of latecomers and absentees so amusing is because we believe that they have been invented to cover up the fact that the employee is late and that their lateness is their fault.

We laugh at their artifice believing that we can see through their most complicated invention as a result of our loftier perspective.

Can we see far enough through our employee's invention to realise that these amusing excuses are created because the organisation has created a working environment that is in some cases so stressful and abhorrent to the employee that they have to throw up in the car park before they come to work.

Their amusing excuse could be to cover the shame that an individual feels because they have to do this every morning before they are able to come to work.

Absence and sickness are in some cases unavoidable and in others are a function of the environment that the organisation creates in which the employees work.

The days are long past when we can treat our employees with a cavalier disregard for their welfare or individuality in the certain knowledge that if they get upset and leave it is their fault and we can always replace them.

Our share of the global market is shrinking at a startling rate.

If we continue to ignore the massive costs associated with decreasing retention and absenteeism then we will only accelerate the rate at which our market share is taken from us.

Wake up, start treating employees with the humanity and dignity they deserve.

When we learn how to do this we will be able to appreciate the massive difference in performance that occurs when people feel good about what they do.

If we don't, the massive overhead that we create for our industry by our behaviour towards our employees will continue to cripple our efforts to compete in a shrinking global market.

Peter A Hunter
Author-Breaking the Mould
http://www.breakingthemould.co.uk

If you have ever experienced or learned something which you then knew was instinctively right - you will never have forgotten it. Peter Hunter learned something years ago which, regrettably, most of us have still yet to learn. When we do - once we have understood the simplicity of his book 'Breaking the Mould' - it will transform our lives forever! Vic Baxter – Business Workout.

Writen by Wally Adamchik

Wouldn't it be great if your employees displayed easy to read and easy to understand signs? These signs would indicate how they are reacting to your new program or what they are thinking about your actions as a leader.

Just like traffic signs give us information, employees provide signs that give us information too. But employees are often subtle and hard to interpret, or we are not tuned in to looking for the signals, so we miss them. Let's look at some of the signs your employees might be displaying. Your ability to tune in to these messages and adjust your activity will lead to success as you reach toward your objectives.

SPEED LIMIT 70
This is a good sign to see. Your employees are fully on board with your program or plan and actively support it. They understand the mission and are aligned with it. When asked to explain what the leader is trying to accomplish, they respond in the proper fashion, almost as if it were their own plan. At 70 mph there is still time to react to sudden dangers, to make mid-course corrections, and to interact with other stakeholders. This sign is characterized by a unity of purpose, a dedication to the mission, a sense of urgency, and a willingness to be creative.

Don't confuse this sign with a situation in which there is no speed limit at all. While we want our employees to be productive, moving full speed ahead, they must know what they are working toward and, when possible, have a hand in crafting the vision.

STOP When your employees give you the stop sign, you have simply gone too far too fast and they are unable to follow you for now. They need something to be able to continue. You need to determine what that something is. They cannot or will not continue until you adjust what you are doing. This adjustment is difficult. First, you have to recognize that they are showing the stop sign, then you have to figure out why. Often that means you must take time to ask questions, a skill in itself, to get their input. In some cases, they may need a simple clarification, but in other cases, they may not agree with your course of action and you will need to persuade them to adopt what you want to do. In some cases, they may require training, while in others, they may need simple reassurance. The best way to get them moving depends on the reason they indicated for you to stop in the first place. A big mistake leaders make is not even seeing the stop sign. A bigger mistake is ignoring it, if seen, since the leader thinks the current course is best and that the employees will follow soon enough. To ignore the stop sign invites danger.

YIELD
Slow down; you are moving too fast. Your employees are not at a standstill here, but they are unable to fully support you. This sign means it's time for active listening on your part. Again, you need to question people and react accordingly to get them up to speed. There can be several reasons for this sign. It is often seen in the downsized, fast-track world of today. "Yield" on the road means there are things coming together and you need to give way to the others to avoid a collision. In organizations, this potential collision can come from multiple agendas and multiple priorities.

DETOUR
This sign says the employees are working their own plan and — although they support the ultimate goal you have articulated (a successful project) — they are not using the means and methods you want to use to get there. As organizations adapt to changing market demands and implement new procedures, this situation is increasingly problematic. A glaring example is the senior employee who delivers profitable work but leaves a wrecked relationship with the other stakeholders – internal and external. The company professes to value integrity and caring, long-term relationships, but it does nothing when this person "does what it takes" to make money and trashes relationships.

Another manager may be great at producing work. However, he is stifling growth and initiative by his "my way or the highway" style. Yet the company says it values creativity and development of subordinates. In both cases, each employee has their own way of doing things and they do deliver results, but the means and methods are counter to the organization's priorities and goals. This situation is one of the toughest a leader faces. Left alone, this conflict between values and procedures damages the credibility of the organization.

ROAD CLOSED
This is different from a stop sign. In the case of the stop sign, they are ready to move forward once you educate, clarify, or explain your intent. The road closed sign is more akin to outright insubordination and refusal to cooperate. This problem may evolve from the detour situation when an employee fails to heed your advice, exhortations, and counseling. In other cases, people may refuse to change because they do not feel you are committed to your path and will give up in a few months anyway, and then they can get back to mediocrity as usual. Unfortunately, this may happen with a small number of people.

EXIT RAMP SIGNS
These are the big green signs with the white arrows. They tell you the next move you have to make to stay on course. In business, these signs come from people who support you and what you are trying to accomplish and want to make it better. They are on board with the means and methods and even the general direction you are taking. However, they have ideas, suggestions, and contributions to make that will ease the trip and make it better for you and your organization.

For example, three months after implementing a new system to make the handoff between sales and operations better, a line supervisor comes to you and offers some thoughts on how to improve what you have already done. The exit ramp sign is a great signal because it sends a message of commitment, interest, and understanding of the mission. However, some leaders ignore this sign because they view a modification to their plan as an admission that it was lacking in the first place. This misguided and shortsighted behavior by leaders often leads to the detour and road closed sign from the people being led.

RAILROAD CROSSING
Danger ahead; you are doing something that is about to lead to a train wreck. Like the exit sign, the employees have information, but in this case, they are not sharing it with you and they will allow you to head right onto the tracks and crash. This sign is shown most often when the leader has previously diminished his or her credibility or refused to listen. Failure to heed this sign results in fairly large consequences. The least consequence is that somebody quits or is fired. Larger consequences include damaged reputation, unsuccessful projects, liquidated damages, claims, and litigation.

HISTORICAL MARKER
These are the signs tucked on the side of the road that you notice in the corner of your eye. Sometimes we stop to read one because we have time, and there it is. Other times, we stop because we are looking for a special one. Although they are not official traffic signs, they do serve a useful purpose for the traveler. These signs tell us the history of the area we are traveling in. They give us context and a sense of perspective. In business, this sign is displayed in two basic ways. First, it is displayed by the people being led — it just appears. In the second way, we ask for it.

For example, the new executive is overseeing a fairly large and complex project that is similar to other projects he has done. However, it is in a location he has never worked. As initial planning is completed and implementation begins, a manager who has recent experience with a similar project in the same city recognizes a situation that looks and smells a lot like one on the last project — a potential "rock in the road" that may cause lost time. He doesn't tell the new executive simply because he doesn't think it is important because the executive didn't ask about it — if the executive did think it was important, surely he would have mentioned it. This is a case of a historical marker just waiting to be read.

DRIVING ON THE TRIP
If you are new to a leadership position, there is a good chance you are missing a lot of these signs because you are overloaded with your daily tasks. However, this may be your best opportunity to look for the signs. Think back to when you first learned to drive. Initially, you were too busy operating the car to focus on the other stuff around you, but shortly after that, you were getting the hang of it. You were more aware but weren't getting complacent yet. Teach yourself now to look for the signs as part of your daily interactions with those you lead.

If you have been in leadership positions for some time, you too may be missing the signs. Think about your own driving now that you have been doing it for years. It comes quite naturally — you relax, you even do other things while you are driving. But, do you ever miss a turn? The answer is probably "yes," and that means you were complacent or preoccupied with something else. You missed the sign. This happens at work too. For example, suppose you were recently promoted and are busy getting ready for the strategic planning retreat for which you have some great ideas. You don't see the railroad sign from your assistant who has been with the firm for years. When you get to the retreat, you are ill-prepared and too aggressive. Your assistant could have given you some insights on how to handle the situation and how to interact with the executive team. You missed the sign. It happens every day.

People constantly give us these signs. When we are driving on the road, we know what to look for. In the case of leadership, it's harder to know the signs to look for, and we can easily miss them to our detriment and to the detriment of the organization. Look hard for these signs, and look for other ones. Ask questions and don't assume. The journey a leader embarks on is fraught with challenges and perils, but the rewards are great and the payoff huge. People want to help you, if you just look for the signs.

Wally Adamchik is President of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting. His new book is NO YELLING: The Nine Secrets of Marine Corps Leadership You MUST Know To WIN In Business. Visit him online at at http://www.beafirestarter.com. He can be reached at 919-673-9499 or wally@beafirestarter.com.

Writen by Harwell Thrasher

Disaster struck the southern United States in August, 2005 as Hurricane Katrina did major damage to New Orleans and southern parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. We don't yet understand the full impact of the storm in terms of lives lost, families disrupted, and the impact on the American and global economies. But we know that a key part of our responsibility as executives and managers is to anticipate disastrous events like Katrina and be ready for them. Here are some of the things I've observed about the Katrina experience that are applicable to the business arena, especially in the areas of business continuity planning and disaster recovery:

1. No one wants to follow the mediation plan if it's an inconvenience, but everyone chastises you afterwards for not pushing harder.

If Hurricane Katrina had swerved at the last minute and missed New Orleans, then I can guarantee that the press would be having a field day telling everyone how stupid it was to evacuate so many people. This is one of those "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situations that make it so hard to be in a position of responsibility. No matter how well you do, it isn't good enough in the eyes of some people. And if you're perceived as over-cautious in a situation where nothing happens, then the criticism will be just as fierce.

2. Pre-disaster exercises don't help if you don't apply what you've learned.

FEMA (the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency) conducted a week-long exercise in 2004 to help Louisiana emergency officials plan for the possibility of a hurricane very much like Katrina. But some of the processes used in the exercise were ignored when Katrina hit, including a process for the large-scale evacuation of people who don't have their own transportation.

3. Your contingency plans need their own contingency plans. Part of the New Orleans contingency plan was to use the Superdome to shelter people who didn't have anywhere else to go. But the Superdome had to be evacuated when toilets backed up, the air conditioning broke down, and high winds ripped a hole in the roof.

4. No matter how much you plan, you still have to improvise when the disaster strikes.

There is no amount of planning that will anticipate every possible outcome, and there comes a point where additional planning makes no sense. You have to be prepared for surprises, and make sure that you have the right people in leadership positions to make the on-the-spot decisions that are required.

5. Insurance policies don't begin to make up for the loss of business and goodwill, and obviously don't make up for the loss of life.

Don't let an insurance company be your disaster plan. Think of an insurance policy as a safety net if everything else in your plan fails.

6. Contingency plans need to have a defined and published trigger event, and the contingency plans need to be executed when the trigger event occurs.

I believe that more lives would have been saved if each area of the coast had an evacuation plan with a timetable. For example, "If a category x hurricane is headed for this area, then y hours before its scheduled arrival, everyone must be evacuated except designated critical personnel. Here is how that will happen ...." Without a trigger event, everyone holds out a little longer before acting, pushing beyond reasonable limits. This happened on a large scale with Katrina, as both federal and state agencies delayed before taking any action.

7. Any disaster has secondary and tertiary consequences that are difficult to anticipate.

Katrina caused localized gasoline shortages throughout the Southeast United States as panicked car owners rushed to fill their tanks. It's still not clear how badly the storm will hurt the U.S. economy, but there is a potential for an economic recession as a result of the hurricane.

8. Disaster planning is all about compromises.

That's hard to deal with emotionally; it's kind of like the idea of "acceptable losses" in an army battle. On the one hand, we don't want to give up anything if disaster strikes. On the other hand, there is a cost of being ready for a disaster, whether or not the disaster ever occurs. Making compromise decisions is tough.

9. Risk and Hazard aren't the same thing, and our business continuity plans have to take the difference into account.

Risk communication consultant Peter Sandman sums up the risk reaction in an equation: Risk = Hazard + Outrage. The idea is that the perceived riskiness of something is not just based on the probability of the bad thing occurring (what Sandman calls "hazard") but also on the level of outrage that is felt when the bad thing happens. For example, car crashes have higher probability but lower outrage, while plane crashes have lower probability but higher outrage. That's why planes are considered "riskier" than cars by most people. And that's why Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed the city of New Orleans and killed hundreds (maybe thousands) of people, is getting so much press coverage: people are outraged that something like this could happen.

When we do business continuity planning, we typically include a list of risks in our project plan. But we don't usually factor in the emotional "outrage" side of the equation. As a result, we focus our attention on the things that are more likely to go wrong, and not on the things that are more likely to get a bad reaction from the public if they go wrong. Guess which type of event hurts your company more in the long run.

© 2005 MakingITclear, Inc. This article was originally published in the September, 2005 issue of the MakingITclear® Newsletter, a free monthly email newsletter published by MakingITclear, Inc. MakingITclear is a registered trademark of MakingITclear, Inc.

Harwell Thrasher is an author, speaker, and coach specializing in the human side of Information Technology. His workshops show IT people and their non-IT customers how to work together to make more effective use of technology. See more on Harwell's web site at http://www.makingITclear.com And join Harwell's free monthly email newsletter that's focused on making your IT organization (or any organization) more effective.

Writen by Lonnie Pacelli

Ever known a manager who held great respect of his or her team but was not respected by his or her management? Or maybe you've had a manager that just couldn't get things done effectively because he or she just didn't know how to "work the system"? Or even still, are you are a manager who is continually frustrated because you can't get your manager to do what you need him or her to do? If any of these sound familiar to you, welcome to the world of ineffective upward management.

Upward management is one of those skills that some do very well, many never seem to master, and virtually all learn only through on-the-job lessons-learned. When done well, both the manager and employee work as a team to ensure each other is informed, address problems before they spin out of control, and be more effective at managing. When done poorly, both manager and employee are not only ineffective at getting the job done but are chronically frustrated due to mis-steps and surprises.

Through the years I've come to categorize most poor upward managers into four personality types:

The Brown-Noser - This is the employee who treats his boss as some kind of rock star and constantly searches for what his boss wants to hear. Rather than upwardly managing, the brown-noser upwardly affirms whatever it is the boss is thinking.

The Rebellious Teenager - This is the employee who consciously conceals information from her boss because she wants to demonstrate that she can get things done without help from her boss. Rather than upwardly managing, the rebellious teenager keeps her manager in the dark by withholding information.

The Cowardly Lion - This is the employee who simply is afraid to share information with his boss because he fears his boss' reactions. Rather than upwardly managing, the cowardly lion avoids sharing information unless completely painted into a corner.

The Erupting Volcano - This is the employee who subscribes to the "more is better" school of information management and will tell her manager every gory detail of every single event every single day. Rather than upwardly managing, the erupting volcano spews data like hot lava and forces her manager to pick out the important facts.

So how do you avoid mis-steps in managing upward? Give this baker's dozen a look and see if one or two of these nuggets can help you be a better upward manager:

#1 - Understand your boss - Think about how your boss likes to communicate; does she prefer written emails or verbal discussion? Does she like structured one-on-one meetings or informal chats? Get a clear understanding of how your boss likes to engage and adapt your style to her style.

#2 - Stick to objective facts - When presenting information avoid emotionally-biased assessments. Sure, you may have put your heart and soul into a project but if the project no longer makes business sense to do then it's your responsibility to put personal feelings aside and do the right business thing.

#3 - Don't dump problems on his or her doorstep that you should be solving yourself - Yes, your manager has greater responsibility than you, probably gets paid more than you, and most likely has more organizational influence than you. That doesn't mean you get to delegate things you should be solving yourself. Handle the problems that you're paid to handle and enlist your boss for the stuff that requires his influence in the organization.

#4 - Be specific about what you need - Whether it be money, resources, or some other form of assistance, be very specific about what you need, why you need it, and what will happen if you don't get what you need. Credible objectivity is crucial here: if it looks as if you are "stacking the deck" by exaggerating consequences or embellishing benefits you're likely to not get what you need. Also, subsequent asks are going to be viewed with greater skepticism.

#5 - Don't ever give reason for your boss to question your credibility - Simply put, if you get caught stretching the truth on even the smallest of facts, you've now given your boss reason to question not only the little things but also the big things. You've got to stay pure with your boss and protect your integrity by never allowing your credibility to be put to question.

#6 - Don't manage upward at the expense of managing downward - I've known one too many managers who did a great job of keeping his boss happy but had a team that wanted to string him up by his thumbs. Look, at some point in time those that manage up at the expense of managing down will get found out and will have to pay the piper. Don't play Russian roulette with your career by keeping your boss comfy while ticking off your team.

#7 - Respect your boss' time - Got a meeting with your boss? Show up on time, come prepared to discuss whatever topics need discussing, and end the meeting on time. Your boss is busy and her time should be utilized as effectively as possible. Don't let your boss see your meetings with her as a waste of time.

#8 - Diligently follow through on commitments - So your boss asks you to complete an assignment by tomorrow. You agree to meet the commitment. The deadline passes and you haven't met the commitment and all you can offer up is some lame excuse. Sheesh. Even if you think an assignment given to you is the dumbest assignment on earth, if you've made a commitment to do it then meet the commitment. Not following through shows a lack of respect for your boss and breeds distrust.

#9 - Present options - In decision making managers like to see alternatives and the consequences associated with each alternative. Some of the best decision making meetings I've been in with my bosses have been where we had meaningful dialogue around two or three viable options to resolving a tough problem. My job in the process was to frame up the options, provide facts to support each option, and provide a recommendation. Sometimes the recommendation was taken, sometimes not; the most important thing was that a good decision was made because there was good informed discussion.

#10 - Make your boss look good - Let's say that your boss is due to make a presentation to his boss and is relying upon you to provide some critical information. You give your boss the information he needs and he presents it to his boss. He then gets fricasseed because the information is wrong. Guess whose office he stops at first on his way back from getting barbecued? Simply put, don't put your boss in a situation where he looks bad in front of his management; you've not only hurt your credibility, you've hurt his credibility.

#11 - Don't suck up - Telling your boss what she wants to hear can label you as a spineless know-nothing who doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to manage effectively on your own. You'll not only quickly lose the respect of your team, your boss will ultimately see through you and not respect your leadership abilities. Sure, you may get the occasional self-absorbed manager that craves shameless idolatry; but by and large bosses view sucking up as incompetence.

#12 - No surprises - Ever tell your boss that your project is on schedule and on budget then at the last minute spring a huge schedule or budget slip on her? Particularly early in my career I've had this happen more than once. For it to happen more than once is shameful to say the least. Bosses don't like surprises where they are forced to accept a problem without having the option to try to fix it before it got out of control. When you see problems make sure you northwind your boss; just make sure you're working diligently to resolve the problem and not just to cover your @#$.

#13 - Admit mistakes...quickly - Look, screw-ups happen. Heaven knows that I've got more screw-ups to my name than many managers will ever see. The important thing is to own up to your mistakes quickly and outline what you are going to do to rectify the mistake. Being the last one to recognize you've made a mistake just diminishes your credibility, so own up to those gaffes and get to work fixing them.

Upward management: sometimes a real pain, many times a diversion, but always a necessity. Take stock of your upward management skills and see where you might need to tie up some loose ends using some of these nuggets.

Lonnie Pacelli is an author with over 20 years experience with Accenture and Microsoft and is president of Leading on the Edge International. See more at http://www.leadingonedge.com

Writen by Lance Winslow

It is extremely important to a franchise company to maintain consistency throughout each franchise outlet. That consistency should include all equipment and supplies, which are to be used or sold at the franchisee level. Without such consistency you will dilute your brand-name and confuse your customer, thus you will lose one of the major benefits of franchising.

It is for this reason that I had determined that our company needed to add a clause in the franchise agreement to address is very issue before the commencement or signing of the franchise or disclosure documents. Also this information was backed up in our confidential operations manuals. Below is a clause in our franchise agreement that I came up with;

3.14 Equipment and Supplies

Franchisee will display, sell and use only such equipment and supply items of independent suppliers which have been approved by Franchisor in accordance with Section 4.6 hereof. In the event Franchisee desires Franchisor approval of a particular supplier, equipment or supply item, Franchisee will provide the documentation contemplated by Section 4.6 at its sole expense and will reimburse Franchisor for costs of further testing as contemplated by Section 4.6. Franchisee may not enter into or renew any agreement with a third-party vendor of services, supplies or equipment if such agreement requires that Franchisee disclose information regarding the identity of its customers or the Services performed by Franchisee for any of its customers. If, as of the date of this Agreement, Franchisee is already a party to an agreement of the sort described in the preceding sentence, Franchisee will not be deemed to be in violation of any of the provisions of this Agreement by virtue thereof for the remainder of the current term of such agreement.

-------- -------- --------

It would behoove serious franchisors to consult a knowledgeable and experienced franchise attorney to help them strategize on ways to control the consistency of their franchise system and how best to address this issue in the franchise agreement and the confidential operations manual. I hope you will consider this in 2006.

Lance Winslow

Inspirational Power Part 1

Writen by Henrique Ploger-Abreu

The Fundamentals of Strategic Marketing, Some Key Traits for Greater Effectiveness

Probably, the greatest challenge to marketing management in the next five Years will be to change quick and fast enough, in order to keep pace with new technologies, new markets and new corporate values According to the definition of the AMA, "Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders. "

Customer focus has nowadays become a cliché among marketers keen to win competitive advantage. But this issue deserves to be taken very seriously, as it disguises a shift from brand recognition to customer recognition. . Every business competing for a leadership role in the market they are operating is customer driven, customer focused, customer related, so what is new?

A new form of interacting with our customers, what I call an, "Intelligent Communication ", should be the strategy to follow; It helps if a marketer has a sales background paired with good oral and written communication skills, but a dialogue consists in a interaction between 2 persons, in a typical business scenario between buyer and seller, and to have a dialogue one should also develop the ability to proper listen to people.

This ability, is, in my opinion, the key skill for success. We marketers generally like to hear ourselves, but how can we develop a deep knowledge of our customer needs if we do not take proper time, focus and energy on really actively listen to what they have to say. By doing this, You will become a better listeners and a more critical and creative thinker.

These are the basic elements of what I consider to be an intelligent dialog with customers

Marketers daily face an endless exchange of ideas, messages, and information by dealing with their internal and external network day after day. How well they communicate can help determine whether their companies quickly grow into an industry leader or joins thousands of other businesses stranded in mediocrity.

Marketers, should, therefore, develop a deep understanding about what their customers wants and needs are, about meeting their expectations and key requirements, and ultimately, this focus should be the source of all the inspiration.

It is becoming more and more important to demonstrate your understanding of customers and Your ability to build trust and loyalty with them, and Marketing should be the driving force in every company and be seen as the link to those customers. (Both internally and externally!) Make sure that you have THE right story to tell to Your customers, as we are entering the "Age of the storyteller " where the biggest challenge facing companies is how to tell, communicate their story in the most compelling, consistent and credible way possible.

Business is comparable to art, it should be seen as a stage, where every sell is a performance and where the customers will meet new selling experiences, will feel motivated and engage to interact with the seller and the desirable result of such an interaction should always be a win-win situation.

Basically companies are what they charge for, by competing solely on a price basis those same companies have been commoditized providing their customers the perception of little or no differentiation to the competition, and adding little value to their offers, be it a product a system or a service.

The challenge for a modern business organisation should be to move to a situation where the customer starts buying from you rather than being sold to . . .

Business as usual is no longer a recipe for success.

Business relationship should be practiced as an act of friendship, rather than merely been seen as a simple process of negotiation. It is about connecting sincerely with people in, a profitable way, but caring for there needs, wishes, and not merely persuading or manipulating them to buy. If we want to practice value based marketing, than we should realize that the value of product ranges and brands no longer lies just in their capacity to deliver better margins, but in their ability to develop business relationships which deliver the vital assets and resources that make the difference between perishing and prospering.

Therefore, and in order to stay current and close with our customers we should focus on the R of CRM and create a new form of selling "relationship".

Henrique Plöger Abreu has a Master Degree in Business Administration, more than 20 Years of working experience in Sales and Marketing. He is a Public Speaker, Business Consultant and President of the L.T.C. a non Profit Organization.

Writen by Wesley Ford

Look for people who exhibit leadership qualities on their own – without specific training. Have you noticed someone who knows how to apply his strengths and work on overcoming his weaknesses?

Is there a person whose skills and character haven't been utilized to help the company grow and succeed? If there's someone in your organization who consistently lends support to everyone else, you may be overlooking a highly qualified leader.

You might need to interview your staff to find out what their inner thoughts are on how the company is performing. They have to have your trust to be able to confide in you.

Hold a meeting and see who pipes up with inventive ideas or strategies to help you beat the competition or improve the processes and procedures for better efficiency. You may have to actively seek out the leaders in your company's existing roster – or go outside of the organization to hire new leadership.

Having strong leadership means your company will soon see improvements at every level – from the way customers are treated to the profit-churning ability of the marketing strategies you employ.

Soldiers view their leaders with respect because those are the men and women who prove that performance and attitude make an impact on whether a mission is carried out with a victory.

Employees in the business world will respect those who are committed to a better way of operating. The actions your leaders take – in the way they interact with employees and carry out business decisions – will be more powerful than the empty words many companies use to try to herd their employees into performing.

Wesley Ford is the Nation's LDRSHIP Expert! His primary mission is professionally developing leaders using The Soldier's Method™. His more than 17 years of experience allows him to speak to and train organizations globally on tactical and strategic issues. Join the Successful Forces by visiting http://www.wesleyford.com

Youre Effective Were Effective

Writen by Michael Beitler

Every leader wants his or her organization to be effective. Every leader realizes organizational effectiveness depends on the effectiveness of individuals. Therefore, it is critical to remember what is necessary to make an individual effective (not only for the subordinates, but the leader him/herself).

We have learned (or should have learned) that the unrelenting 24/7 drive toward a goal becomes counter-productive at some point. As early as 1908, the Yerkes-Dodson Curve demonstrated the relationship between performance and stress. Initially, increasing levels of stress increase performance (efficiency). But, further increases in stress levels cause a plateauing of effectiveness. And, if stress levels continue to increase, performance begins to decline rapidly. Extreme and/or consistently high levels of stress affect our performance and efficiency, and eventually our health.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report some disturbing findings about workplace stress. NIOSH found that "40% of all workers feel overworked, pressured, and squeezed to the point of anxiety, depression, and disease" (Harvard Business Review, November 2005, page 53). Obviously, these workers are not going to be very effective.

So, what's a frustrated, stressed-out manager to do? First, the manager must apply some basic effectiveness principles to his/her own work habits.

A lot can be learned by a brief review of Dr. Herbert Benson's work. Professor Benson, of the Harvard Medical School, has spent 35 years conducting research in the fields of neuroscience and stress.

It was Benson's bestselling 1975 book, "The Relaxation Response," that first described the benefits of using techniques such as mediation to business managers. His descriptions of stress and relaxation on the physiological level were quite convincing.

Benson basically recommends a three-step process to maximize our effectiveness. First, struggle mightily with the problem. This step involves the hard work of data gathering and problem analysis. Eventually your stress level will reach the point where your effectiveness plateaus and begins to decline. Time for step two!

Step two involves "walking away" from the problem. It's time to do something completely different. It's time to relax in a manner that works best for you (go to the art gallery, get a massage, "sleep on it," listen to calming music, share a meal with an old friend). You can do whatever you want to do. But, here is what you cannot do:

* continue analyzing the problem

* continue controlling the situation

* continue your attachment to the problem

During step two you must disengage!

Step three is the "breakout" step. After you have relaxed and rejuvenated, you return to the problem with renewed vigor, creativity, and insight.

To learn more about this "breakout" level of effectiveness, I recommend Benson's latest book, The Breakout Principle (2003, with William Proctor), and Csikszentmihalyi's classic bestseller, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990).

Dr. Mike Beitler is the author of "Strategic Organizational Change" and "Strategic Organizational Learning." Read free chapters from the books at his website, http://www.mikebeitler.com.

Employees Need Some Perspective

Writen by Gerry McRae

Would you like to have your employees walk a few miles in your shoes? Looking for a simple way to explain the flow of the revenue and expenses for your business? Want to change the perspective on the gap between wages and amounts charged to customers? Adapt this exercise to your small business situation.

George's Auto Service

Every person entering the management ranks of a large communications company were required to attend a management orientation workshop.

During one workshop the facilitator handed out a little case study and displayed the statement of income and expenses for "George's Auto Service" on the wall. He gave a brief explanation of the expense items for those who had not taken a course in accounting. The case outlined information on the shop's operations and the local conditions.

The attendees were split into small groups to consider such questions as, "Does George have a viable business operation?" and, "How could George better manage his business?"

After the situation was reviewed from several different perspectives and a dozen options were explored, the group members were almost unanimous in concluding that George's Auto Service was not generating enough profit to justify his investment of money, time and energy. Their recommendation to close the business was considered more prudent than any of their other recommended changes.

Typical comments were, "George should stop beating his head against the wall because he's not making enough money for all his troubles." and "He should try a more profitable business."

The facilitator pressed the groups to examine the various expense items for specific reductions that would allow George's Auto Service to make more profit.

Many cost cutting schemes were suggested. The most common solution was that George should ask his mechanic to accept less pay. The facilitator obtained a consensus that a reduction of wages was a prime solution. Then, with a little smile he said, "Let's see how this would work."

The members of the group appeared puzzled as he began adding three zeros to each item on the display of the Income and Expense Statement. With the flair of a magician he finished by replacing "George's Auto Service" with the name of their own company.

"There," exclaimed the smiling facilitator, "is the Income and Expense Statement for our very own company. The same company you suggested isn't worth operating because it isn't making enough profit. The same company each of you are planning to help manage" Then, with a larger grin he asked, "Do you still want to ask the employees to take a cut in pay?"

The initial shock was followed by much laughter. Some members praised the facilitator for the clever way he had tricked them. Others laughed about how three little zeros can make such a big change in one's perspective. Laughter continued as one group member seemed to express everyone's newfound insight with, "I didn't realize wages and salaries are only one of many essential operating expenses." The group's joker got a burst of laughter and a few groans by quipping, "Yeah! Three little nothings suddenly became three big somethings!"

One member asked the facilitator how many company employees have been exposed to this little case study. The facilitator said, "Only management groups. It's up to you managers to monitor and to influence perspectives about the expenses, other than wages, that are required to keep our company operating. By the way, I'd appreciate it if you would not disclose this exercise to others assigned to take this workshop."

Try this little exercise for your small business operation

Persons unfamiliar with ownership and management are unaware of all the factors required to operate a business. Even workers familiar with an income and expense statements often perceive the payment for their services to be inadequate and unfair. Properly presented, such a case could foster a healthy discussion of common objectives and contributions. If not a lively discussion, perhaps the exercise could result in a greater appreciation of your management decisions and your distribution of your operation's revenues.

If there is an indication your employees do, indeed, perceive you are getting rich from their hard work, proceed cautiously with your timing and presentation. You could be worsening a very sensitive situation.

The facilitator in our story used humor to alleviate any embarrassment caused by the trickery for the surprising disclosure. If you are not skillful with humor, get someone who is or use another defusing tactic.

Allow the lessons learned from the exercise speak for themselves and avoid excessively dwelling on them too much. Let the participant draw their own conclusions.

About The Author
Gerry McRae is the creator and principal author of the small business management website UncleMaxSays.com. Gerry is also the author of "Time Management for Entrepreneurs - What to do, When & Why" available at http://www.unclemaxsays.com/timemanagement.php

The Police Debates

Writen by Ron Kaufman

When a senior officer of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) asked for my opinion about service improvement, mindset training and new technology, I became curious.

I did some detective work of my own and discovered the SPF holds internal debates on provocative service questions. It's one of the best ideas I've seen for developing a service culture. Here's how they did it. You can do it, too!

The debate competition is open to all. Sixteen teams of three compete in a preliminary round. A ballot system determines the teams' order of appearance, motions to be debated and position (proposition or opposition) each team will take. The winning team of each pair advances to the next round. Competition continues until two teams reach the finals.

A judging panel includes police reservists in the private sector and other specialists in quality service training.

The judging criteria are as follows:
• Substance of speech – 35%
• Organization of speech – 25%
• Rebuttal / reply to floor – 10%
• Teamwork – 10%
• Diction – 10%
• Showmanship – 10%

Motions for debate in the preliminary round:
• Improving service makes customers more demanding.
• High service standards increase work competency.
• Lack of training is the cause for service lapses.

Motions for debate in the quarterfinals:
• Striving for service excellence compromises SPF's image as an enforcement agency.
• The nature of police work does not allow officers to provide quality service.
• It is more important for SPF to be results-oriented than service-oriented.

Motions for debate in the semifinals:
• To provide quality service, SPF should rely more on new technology.
• To provide quality service, only experienced staff should be placed in frontline work.

Motion for debate in the finals:
• To achieve service excellence, an officer's attitude matters more than their training.

The results of the competition were impressive. The original intention was to increase staff involvement in the annual campaign, stimulate interest in the subject of quality service, create better understanding about the importance of key service issues, help management understand staff concerns about being service-oriented and learn about any implementation difficulties that may have been overlooked.

In the words of the SPF: 'All of these benefits were achieved. Staff were very forthcoming with their opinions and the activity was one of the favorites among officers so far. Demand to enter the competition exceeded supply.'

Key Learning Point
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In today's world of intensifying competition and rising customer expectations, organizations need staff who understand key issues and appreciate sometimes conflicting points of view.

Action Steps
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What questions about service, innovation and teamwork do you want your staff to thoroughly and thoughtfully consider?

Make a list of important issues everyone in your organization should understand. Draft them into `position statements' that can be debated `for' and `against'. Set up a competition with teams, judges and high profile presentations. Then watch your people kick into action with creative energy, full participation and a constructive new flow of ideas, insights and inspiration.

Ron Kaufman is an internationally acclaimed educator and motivator for partnerships and quality customer service. He is author of the bestselling "UP Your Service!" and founder of "UP Your Service College". Visit http://www.UpYourService.com for more such Customer Service articles, subscribe to his Newsletter, or to buy his bestselling Books, Videos, Audio CDs on Customer Service from his secure Online Store. You can also watch Ron live or listen to him at http://www.RonKaufman.com.

Writen by LM Foong

In my previous article entitled: Implementing TQM, Who drives TQM initiatives piblished on [May 19, 2006 04:07:21 pm]. I mentioned on the role of the CEO of the company who implement TQM and CEO of Baldirge winners who are successful implementing TQM in their companies.

What is Malcom Baldrige and is there any similarity with TQM? Well, there are many common management principles between the two. To appreciate that, readers is encouraged to understand the core values and concepts, its Assessment Criteria and its assessment approach. I have worked with several companies who have adopted the Baldrige Criteria and assessment as a benchmark. For the purpose of this article, I will outline the Eleven Values and Concepts and the Seven Categories of Baldrige Criteria

Criteria for Performance Excellence Goals

Baldrige Criteria are designed to provide organizations an integrated approach in persuit of performance excellence that results in:-

  • Delivery of ever-improving value to customers, contributing to marketplace success
  • Improvement of overall organizational effectiveness and capabilities
  • Organizational and personal learning

The Eleven Core Values and Concepts

The Malcolm Baldrige Criteria are built upon eleven sets of interrelated Values and Concepts. They are those embedded beliefs and behaviors found in high-performing organizations. They form the foundation for integrating key business requirements within a results-oriented framework that formed the basis for action and feedback. The Eleven Values and Concepts are listed below:-

  1. Visionary Leadership
  2. Customer-Driven Excellence
  3. Organizational and Personal Learning
  4. Valuing Employees and Partners
  5. Agility
  6. Focus on the Future
  7. Managing for Innovation
  8. Management by Fact
  9. Public Responsibility and Citizenship
  10. Focus on Results and Creating Value
  11. Systems Perspective

These Core Values and Concepts are embodied in Detail Baldrige Criteria which are grouped into Seven Categories as follows:

  1. Leadership
  2. Strategic Planning
  3. Customer and Market Focus
  4. Information and Analysis
  5. Human Resource Focus
  6. Process Management
  7. Business Results

In summary, having understood the Value and Concepts and Baldrige Criteria, leaders of company would have a better idea TQM success may be represented by Malcolm Baldrige Assessment. The assessment would report both Strengths and Area for Improvement. It is a value-added feedback for organization to move forward. My next article will share some case studies on Baldrige Assessment for several companies

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Disclaimer:

All rights reserved. This article is written by the author based on his practical application experience. All definitions and interpretation of terminology are his point of view and has it has no intention to conflict with experts in similar topic. The author holds no responsibility for the use of this article in any way.

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Free to reprint or re-publish:

All rights reserved. You are free to reprint or re-publish this article as long as you include my resource box at the end of this article. And ensure that the URL in the resource box remained intact and it is linked to the author's website.

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Resource Box: About the Author, LM Foong

The author provides consulting services specializing in TQM Implementations in manufacturing and service sector. He provides facilitation workshops and hands-on application in Cost Reduction and Productivity Improvement projects. He publishes TQM articles, ebooks, case studies, trainer manual and presentation slides. Please click To View Free TQM articles or Please Visit my Web Site for other TQM related matters

Writen by Larry Stybel

There is an economic chill in the air.

Despite low unemployment rates in the United States, there is a sense that corporate layoffs and employee layoffs will once again take place. One level of decisions facing leaders is "who stays/who goes." A second level of decisions revolves around "how do we treat people who leave?" This second level of decisions puts leaders in a dilemma between being generous to people that you are harming versus being prudent with owners' money during times of economic stress.

At one end of the termination continuum, many associates who enter partnership track at the international law firm of Bingham McCutchen may not be elected to that role. Whatever their reasons for leaving the firm, one of the things that make Bingham stand out is that it considers former associates to be future resources. End of employment is the start of membership as Bingham McCutchen Alumni. The firm goes out of its way to assist departing professionals and maintains an active alumni group.

At the other end of the employment termination continuum are companies that treat departing employees with the same corporate rationale as they treat office refuse: Remove it with as little cost as possible and do not involve us in litigation. We don't care what happens to our refuse or our former employees after exiting the facility.

These two approaches represent extreme ends of attitude towards end of employment decisions. Where does your company fit? Where should it fit?

The purpose of this article is to provide leaders with a framework for helping them decide where on this continuum their company ought to be. And we want to provide a framework with a more business-like rationale than, "It's nice to be nice."

In planning for terminations, it might be useful to look at the threat analysis framework developed by the 2005 Nobel Prize for Economics winner, Thomas C. Schelling. Schelling is professor of Economics at the University of Maryland. He received his Award for applying game theory to conflict. His focus was on the weapons issues but we have applied his ideas to the design of executive termination packages.

Schelling says "uncertain retaliation is more efficient than certain retaliation" when bargaining and "the capability to retaliate is more useful than the ability to defend." Now let's get practical.

GOODBYE SCENARIO

As a verb, "Goodbye" denotes parting. Saying "goodbye" assumes that once employees leave the building, they will never be a factor for the firm's future. The relationship was transactional and the transaction is now over. If the firm defines termination as a goodbye scenario, the firm should be guided by a business model that says, "What's the least expensive way of terminating this relationship consistent with reducing legal risks?"

AUWIEDERSEHEN SCENARIO

"Auwiedersehen" is a German word that is often used when people depart. But Auwiedersehen is not "Goodbye." It literally means, "Until we meet again." Saying "Auwiedersehen" assumes that once employees physically leave the building, they have only physically left the building. They can continue to be factors for the company's success or failure. For example:

Once their non-compete agreements end, they may join other firms in your industry. Will they be opponents of your M&A plans or attempts to foster industry-wide standards or strategic alliances?

As you seek to attract new talent to your company, are the people you terminated considered thought leaders in your physical or industry community? Will they caution new talent about joining?

Once their non-compete agreements end, they could work for customers or potential customers and encourage customers to go elsewhere.

Each of these scenarios assumes capability of retaliation plus degrees of uncertainty about that retaliation. This is the Schelling scenario. Signing a Waiver of Rights either does not reduce these risks or reduces it for a defined period of time. From a company perspective, the two questions are:

• How much higher than zero is the probability of retaliation?

• Does it matter?

ARE COMPANIES EMPLOYING TOO NARROW A PERSPECTIVE ABOUT RISK MANAGEMENT WHEN MAKING TERMINATION DECISIONS?

With many of our client companies, termination discussions often involve representatives from Finance, HR, and Legal meeting to discuss risk management and cost factors. All three functional perspectives are important. They are also incomplete.

In examining risk factors, the voice of marketing and strategy need to be at the table.

We employ a framework like the one below to help structure the conversation.

TERMINATION THREAT ANALYSIS ONCE NON-COMPETITION AND NON-DISPARAGEMENT AGREEMENTS LAPSE.

Rate each factor on a 0-9 scale. A score of "0" means that the factor does not apply. "1" means "minor threat" whereas "9" means a "significant threat."

SCORE FACTOR

Ability to harm M&A objectives over the next 36 months.

Ability to harm strategic alliances over the next 36 months.

Ability to negatively influence sales over the next 36 months.

Ability to negatively influence talent we seek to hire over the next 36 months.

**

We used 36 months as a framework because many critical business decisions in building product lines, acquiring companies, or being acquired require that type of time perspective.

The above is a framework for discussion during the termination planning stage and can apply to group as well as individual termination decisions.

The people around the table have different areas of competency to evaluate these marketing/strategic issues. HR and sales can best discuss the impact on attracting and retaining talent. But strategy people can best discuss M&A plans.

In applying these and other risk factors, the objective of the meeting is for the group to determine if the end of employment decision approaches the Goodbye end of the continuum or the Aufwiedersehen end of the continuum.

In moving towards the Goodbye end of the termination continuum, a company should pay departing employees severance fees no greater than median relative to other companies its size in the industry and should keep outplacement costs to a minimum. There would be no follow-up with employees once they leave the building other than what is legally required. The company message is: "Good bye. We want to give you a running start on your job search."

In moving towards the Auwiedersehen end of the termination continuum, a company should pay departing employees severance fees and outplacement programs using the median as a starting point. At the extreme end of Auwiedersehen, former employees would be called Alumni and there might be a section on the company website for Alumni to learn about what is going on with the company and to communicate with other Alumni. At the same time, those who frequent the Alumni section are useful targets for the company's sales staff. Alumni would be invited to reapply for job openings the company would have in the future. The company message is: "We would like to see you land on your feet in the wake of this termination decision and we want you to know that you are still a member of our business 'family.' We are sure that our paths will cross again."

COMPANY CULTURE

As someone who works with leaders in their departure from organizations, we love working for client companies that treat departing employees with dignity because it is integral to their culture. Our perspective in this article, however, is a contingency-based approach to managing end of employment decisions. Our framework suggests that representatives from marketing and strategy be present when termination decisions are made and some specific questions be raised to examine threat from a broader perspective than a strict legal perspective.

End of employment decisions can be oriented towards the Goodbye scenario or oriented towards the Auwiedersehen scenario. Where your company is on that continuum should be a carefully thought out business decision.

REFERENCE: Thomas C. Schelling. THE STRATEGY OF CONFLICT. Boston: Harvard Press, 1980

Laurence J. Stybel handles Board retreats and convention talks focusing around the topic of managing leaders when the stakes high. For more articles on managing leaders, link to http://www.stybelpeabody.com/yourcareer.htm

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