Anyone Can Captain
a Ship in
By Steve Harney
leader, you provide and maintain momentum within your company. While
guiding your employees during recent times was easy, today you may
find that the momentum is moving in the wrong direction. So the
question is: “How does your company adjust and move forward to
today’s market, increasing profitability is the issue for every
company. Whether you are introducing ancillary businesses for
additional revenue streams or redistributing marketing dollars from
print to the Internet, having the buy-in of all your employees is
critical. Following is a five-step system that will ensure your
Analyze the Initiative: As you analyze any initiative that
you’ve set for your company, you need to ask yourself three key
Is this initiative in
line with other core competencies?
Does this initiative
fit our company culture?
Can we realistically
get team buy-in for the initiative?
you attempt to move your company forward, you need to have a clear
picture of where it stands today. For example, if you have
successfully built a strong product line, you might believe the
addition of a new product line makes sense. But you have to look a
little closer. Will some employees walk from their established
streams of revenue in order to try what may look like a new “magic
pill”? Do the employees pride themselves on being “niche”
specialists and therefore revolt about diluting the brand? Truly
analyze where you are and where you want to be before introducing
Build Team Support: You’ve likely heard the phrase: “That
which they help create, they help support.” In leadership terms,
that phrase reminds us that we need to include everyone in
the organization when we are planning any new venture. To begin, get
input from the entire management team. Even if you have a single
office or locations, you have people there who help you “manage” the
organization—for example, the experienced employee who everyone
respects and views as an informal leader or the longtime staff
person that everyone trusts. Whoever those leaders are, you must
include them in the initial phases.
bring in all staff personnel and tell them the plans. Whether you
want to believe it or not, your staff is central to your success.
Whatever the initiative, effective follow-up will be crucial. Your
staff will be responsible for providing accurate data so you can
gauge your progress. Finally, get employee buy-in, and don’t jump
into this. Garnering buy-in is a process. Start by testing the idea
on a very small group of the staff. Get their opinions and concerns.
Analyze those concerns, and then massage your message. Try the new
message on a select few. Once you are comfortable with the message
itself, you can introduce the initiative to the entire group.
Introduce the Initiative: The two main elements to introducing
an initiative are venue and format. First, never introduce an
“extremely important” project in the same location you hold every
other meeting. If the idea is important, then make sure the
organization senses that from the beginning. You could hold the
meeting at a local restaurant or a movie theatre (both are
inexpensive during certain daytime hours). Just make it special.
format of the meeting should also be more powerful than your normal
get-togethers. Leadership must be visible. The room must also
reflect the message in terms of décor and music. If you are
introducing a program to drive revenue, then make sure the music is
upbeat and fills the room. If it is a cost-cutting initiative, keep
it modest—no balloons or lobster! Also, make sure that the
leadership is dressed appropriately and is mic’d. More formal
speeches require a podium; less formal speeches need lavaliere mics.
book Leadership is an Art, Max De Pree claims that the first
responsibility of a leader is to “introduce reality.” In other
words, your first job is to let the organization know how you have
gotten to today. Don’t be afraid to tell the “bad” news. Remember
that employees are aware of what is taking place in their industry.
Be honest and trust in their concern for the group.
not be afraid to ask for sacrifice. Most great leaders became famous
by asking for sacrifice (JFK, Gandhi, Vince Lombardi, to name a
few). Prepare for questions you know will arise. Have third party
endorsements at your fingertips (a Wall Street Journal article, a
speaker who is an expert in the field, etc.). If there will be a
training component, and with new ventures there almost always is,
announce the schedule that day. Make everyone in the room feel
comfortable that they will be able to participate.
Instill Follow-up Systems: Always inspect that which you expect.
Your follow-up systems need to have four elements. The first two are
structuring the follow up and centralizing the reporting. Leaders
must delegate efficiency. Therefore, you need to delegate both of
these items to staff personnel. They will relish their part in the
plan and also do a much better job than the management team on these
management team needs to be concerned with step three: evaluating
the data. No initiative is successful unless change transpires.
Therefore, charge your managers with the responsibility of culling
over all the data and evaluating whether movement in the desired
direction is actually taking place.
Delegating efficiency means that you need to deal personally
with effectiveness. For that reason, you must take responsibility
for the fourth and final step: making prudent adjustments. These
adjustments will determine the eventual success of the program.
Reward Success: Obviously, you can’t reward failure. So if you
are at the reward phase, that means success is taking form. Here are
a few guidelines:
completion dates for goals. A goal without a timetable is
nothing more than a dream. These times call for people who can
actually achieve goals.
Evaluate success in
stages. Do not wait until the end to start evaluating the
results. Remember that facts do not cease to exist because you
ignore them! Set certain stages to evaluate movement and make
importance of recognition. Many people enter a sales
profession for financial gain. Everyone enters for
recognition. Think of your brand new agents and your top
producers. What do they have in common? They both want someone
to acknowledge how hard they are working. Recognition is
inexpensive, but extremely valuable.
Rewards. Never use incentives with people for things they
are already accomplishing. You can reward them by recognizing
them for their effort and success. Save incentives for those who
are going beyond the norm and driving the organization toward
the desired goal. Understanding the difference between these two
words is critical to the initiative’s success.
Pay off with
pizzazz! Have fun! Be loud! Go crazy! Success is exciting.
Make sure your brain communicates that to the rest of your
Bright New Future: The American economy will forever continue to
cycle. Tony Robbins says, “The size of the hero is determined by the
size of the evil they struggle against.” Would we know Helen Keller
were she not blind and deaf? Would we know David if not for Goliath?
Would we know Lincoln without the Civil War? Great leaders develop
through adversity. They do not cave in to circumstance. In the
toughest of times they stand up, and through their hard work and
perseverance, they become true heroes. As times get tough, remember
… now is your moment to shine.
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