It Is Time to Fail Faster

It Is Time to Fail Faster

Founder and Managing Member Ron Slee shares words of wisdom he heard recently in today’s blog post: It Is Time to Fail Faster.

I never thought that I would call for “failing faster” in my life. Imagine failure? Of course, if we think about this, a moment’s failure is important to anyone who is interested in getting better at how they do things. 

I was given this “line” by Stephanie Smith, Vice President of Marketing from Newman Tractor on a recent Podcast with Mets Kramer. We were talking about Marketing and the Digital Dealership and how fast change was happening. Stephanie calmly stated that we have to learn how to fail faster. I stopped her and asked her to repeat it. I found it to be so profound. Days later, to me it is still a very profound observation.

I was in school in the 1950s and the 1960s. It was a very basic education. Nothing particularly fancy. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. My Mother was a teacher, she was the Vice Principal at the grade school I attended. She chose all my teachers. I couldn’t get away with anything. My Grandmother was a teacher in the proverbial one room schoolhouse. She got a Master’s degree from the University of Manitoba in the early 1900s. One year I was doing miserably in Geometry and Latin. I hated studying so I refused to memorize. I either understood it or I felt it was not that important. My Grandmother took over my schooling on the weekends. I spent several months with her every weekend. The first semester I got 38% in both Geometry and Latin. That was unacceptable to Granny. By the final report card, I averaged 78% for the year. I had no choice but to stop failing. I was “taught” a very important lesson that year. It wasn’t “don’t mess with Granny.” No, it was “apply yourself or there will be a consequence.” Did I ever learn! That, plus my experiences in the swimming pool as a competitive swimmer, made me who I became.

That led me to my favorite question: “Why?” It seems from a very young age I was always asking why. Perhaps every child does. But that meant I would try things. That was when I started experiencing failure. I remember one instance when I was doing some work in the warehouse at the Caterpillar dealership in Montreal. I think we were moving parts around trying to make more space. Bob Hewitt, the dealer principal, came out to the warehouse and put his arm around my shoulders. I was surprised. Here I was in a sweat shirt and jeans working and dirty in the warehouse. He was in a three-piece suit looking very elegant. He looks me in the eye and says “I am really disappointed in you.” Even in those early years I was rarely at a loss for words. I quickly responded “me too. Why are you disappointed?” I looked up at him and I could see his face start to twitch. He said “when you are finished come see me in my office.” The thing he was disappointed in was that the roads to a remote branch were closed for the winter and I had placed a stock order that wasn’t going to get there. I hadn’t planned for an early snowfall. I told him if I would have known that snowfall was coming, could have predicted that, I would be working somewhere else. True story.

I have made an unbelievable number of mistakes over the course of my lifetime. They continue even today. The trick with mistakes from my perspective is very simple. You are going to make mistakes, that is clear, identify the mistakes as quickly as you can and make adjustments, corrections, fix it. Fast. Today with the rate of change in society, in technology, in telecommunications, in fact in nearly every aspect of our lives is dramatic. Change is coming at us so fast it is impossible to keep up. At least that is true for me.

When Stephanie made the comment, we have to “fail faster” I was amazed. It was so appropriate. It was profound to me. It was an “aha” moment. It forced me to think about things again in a new way. I needed to pick up my pace and make more changes more quickly. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Don’t worry about failure. That is going to be a consequence of doing more things. Mistakes and failures are also a part of the process of learning. You just have to recognize when things don’t work and make adjustments. Make corrections. Everything will continue to be alright. No one is going to shoot me. At least, not for making a mistake. 

Thank you, Stephanie.    

The Time is Now.

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Why Lean Manufacturing Doesn’t Work Today

Why “Lean Manufacturing Doesn’t Work Today”

Guest writer Bruce Baker shares with us the reasons why lean manufacturing doesn’t work today: the reasons are not exactly what you might think…

Whether you own a bookkeeping business, cabinet-making business or legal practice, all businesses are made up of routines, which rely on consistent, one-at-a-time processes. Everything we do that keeps society “together” relies on repeatable activities. Whether it’s brushing our teeth, getting dressed or eating breakfast, all rely on repeatable processes.

For those who are not aware of the practice of Lean, allow me to provide you with a brief history and definition. Lean is the concept of efficient manufacturing/operations that grew out of the Toyota Production System in the middle of the 20th century. It is based on the philosophy of defining value from the customer’s viewpoint and continually improving how value is delivered by eliminating every use of wasteful resources, or that does not contribute to the value goal. In short, taking things one step at a time is the make or break of business and general success in life.

Many have heard before… “take it down a notch…one thing at a time”. Several months ago, I wrote a short article called “Your Interpretation of Time,” where I stressed the importance of how reactive we have become as a society, including business. Our interpretation of time today is drastically shorter, and the general consequences of failure, impressively higher and more extreme than before. This inevitably leads to reactive, narrow, and short-term decision-making. Albert Einstein once said, “When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”

My bold statement of “…Lean doesn’t work today” is not that the practice and methodology are ineffective; on the contrary. Lean is applicable in every industry and every business and mentioned in the beginning of this article, in your personal life. The practice and adoption of Lean are fantastic when a business and its people adopt this “way of business life.”

A challenge we are all presented with is that if we adopt Lean as a practice, we need to accept that our reactional, short-term, and high-crisis manner of thinking will always stop us from adopting practices like Lean.

Building and growing a business is never easy emotionally, but requires a strict set of routines and processes, and each process must be executed effectively. This can only happen if each process performs effectively in an individual manner parallel to its fellow processes. This requirement is not limited to the business world but the very nature of our world, yet we insist on a short-term, high-crisis manner of thinking.

As I write this article, I sit in a Lean manufacturing training session with Quantum Lean. Lynn (the Lean instructor) mentioned that adopting Lean “takes time” and that “people do not like to change”. Although I completely agree with Lynn, people resist change primarily because they fear the unknown. Statements like “I don’t see the reason to change,” “I don’t have time to wait for them”, “I have so many problems to deal with, I don’t know where to start” or finally, “Oh, I’ll add this to my list of problems I have to solve…I don’t have time to deal with little issues like this now!”

In conclusion, if you have or are anticipating implementing Lean in your business, remember this. It all starts with the leader of the business. If the leader does not make this mind shift, the rest of the team will not make the shift either. Lean is not another tool or method. It is a change in the state of mind and subsequently changing the business’s culture from fighting fires to experiencing the inherent joy of work and life in general.

As a wise mentor of mine once said, “one step at a time, grasshopper….”

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Quality of Communication Channel

Quality of Communication Channel

In tonight’s blog post, guest writer Ryszard Chciuk walks us through the information our customers need and want to know. The quality of the communication channel directly impacts your customer’s purchases, especially as they move through the research phase before buying.

Ron Slee reminded us (see From Paper to Glass) what he had talked perhaps for decades about the three questions that a customer asks when they need to purchase parts from a dealer:

  1. Have you got it?
  2. How much is it?
  3. How long do I have to wait to get it?

These are the same questions customers have when they want to purchase something else or they are looking for any information regarding their equipment.

So, what does your customer do when:

  • they are going to replace their old machine with the new one?
  • they want to get rid of their old equipment?
  • they think about additional attachment to their old machine?
  • they are looking for spare parts?
  • their machine is down in the middle of nowhere?
  • they are looking for the spec sheet of the older machine model?
  • they miss somewhere an Operators’ Manual?
  • they have to estimate the total quantity of fuel for their new project?
  • they immediately need any other kind of information related to his fleet?

Your customer is doing the research.

Mets Kramer in Candid Conversation with Ron Slee (The Digital Dealership) said:

  • … of the 85% of all the research the customer does is now done digitally, online, prior to making a phone call.

Seven years ago Acquity Group, part of Accenture Interactive made a survey of 500 procurement officers (B2B) with annual purchasing budgets in excess of $100,000. What did they find?

  • Only 12 percent of buyers want to meet in person with a sales representative when determining a purchasing decision and 16 percent want to discuss their purchasing options with a sales representative over the phone.

In the 2014 Acquity Group State of B2B Procurement study they also stated:

  • Thirty percent of B2B buyers report they research at least 90 percent of products online before purchasing.

I am afraid a majority of dealerships are not able to interact with their modern customers in a new way. As a born realist, I think nobody in the construction industry is ready for that, despite everybody is having at his disposal proper technology.

Your existing and, even more important, potential customers changed their search behavior, within the last several years, but you have not noticed that. If you are going to neglect that fact, your company goes into dire straits. Be aware that:

  • 80% of B2B Buyers Have Switched from Suppliers That are Unable to Align Their Services with Buyer Expectations (from the Accenture report for 2019).

Your company, like most dealerships, from time to time is running sales campaigns. Usually, it is done with the use of an electronic channel. Are you aware, it has no advantages over the 20th-century traditional campaign (with the use of a phone or snail mail)? It is because you present your offer on your static website and it contains extremely exciting form “Please contact us for the price or additional information”. How many times a year do you receive back that form filled in?

You fail because you stubbornly stick to so-called Billboard Marketing. If you want to change that, please read about Digital Marketing. Mets Kramer presented there his view on today’s marketing. Mets differentiates Billboard Marketing from the more 21st-century alike Engagement Marketing.

In fact, it does not matter whether the campaign is run with help of any e-mail platform (newsletters), Google, Facebook, or others. A successful campaign brings your potential customer to your dealership, to have a look at your yard, warehouse, service vans, and workshop. This is the way you can easily initiate customer’s thinking about starting or strengthening friendly relations with your staff. The physical presence of a customer on your street is not necessary. In the 21st century, your website is the main place where this can happen. Does it? Be aware that:

  • 83% of buyers use supplier websites for online research (from the Accenture report for 2014).
  • only 37 percent of B2B buyers who research a supplier’s website feel it’s the most helpful tool for research (from the Accenture report for 2014).

Of course, your IT provider can change static pages into dynamic ones, they can use new software for generating modern layouts with nicer pictures or even short videos, etc. Everything looks wonderful, but it is only face lifting. The question is if you provide your customers with the information they are online looking for.

Mets Kramer, in the series of articles about Digital Dealership (search for “digital dealership” on the blog), reminded me of my dreams about a “digital” after-sales department. I began to think about it at the end of the 20th century and it never became real. In the next article, I am going to present to you some obstacles which I had to struggle with. It’s a pity, I’m certain that after a quarter of the century later, your road is cobbled with similar or the same problems.

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The Future Work Place

The Future Work Place

The Future Work Place – What Will it Look Like?

The Pandemic has had a devastating impact on life around the world. Many of us have lost close friends, co-workers, associates and family members. It has been very personal. On top of that many of us have had either short term or long-term changes in our jobs as well as in the nature of our work. And interestingly some of us have reevaluated our lives and how we live them. It has been a very dramatic change in almost all of what we got used to prior to the Pandemic.

Now I have questions. What will be the future of our work? Will we work from home or in the office, or some hybrid? Obviously, technology will play a much larger role in our work and home lives. We can already see rather stark statistics. Ed Gordon has been publishing and providing us with blogs called Job Shock. He is pointing to the difficulties that the education work is having providing work ready people to the work place. Education has changed and is undergoing serious challenges where standardized testing is going away and not being used by universities for admission purposes in many cases. The value provided by the ACT and SAT tests and even Briggs-Myers are being challenged. Diversity issues have become much more important in the work place. Demographics are working against us as baby boomers are leaving the work force. Then we see an amazing fact: currently there are ten million job openings in the US, which is more than the total number of unemployed people looking for work. So yes, I do have questions.

Even before the pandemic things were changing but it was slow, as in most changes. Four-day work weeks were becoming more common. Second and even Third shifts were becoming more common in distribution and other Industries that had not seen much in the way of the shift world. The generational stress between the baby boomers who expected people working in the office was pitted against the Millennials and GenX who wanted the opportunity to work remotely.

A recent Gallup survey found that 40% of the US workforce was actively looking for a change in their jobs. The main reason being that the employees did not feel engaged. Into that mix comes the Society for Human Resource Management. They are suggesting that flexible work arrangement can provide several advantages.

  • Improved Employee Retention
  • More Success in Recruiting
  • Reduced Hiring and Training Expenses
  • Improved Employee Productivity
  • More Diversity in the Workforce
  • Increased Employee Engagement

Harvard Business School, in recent research, found that 81% of employees either didn’t want to go back to the office or would prefer a hybrid schedule going forward. So, we are going through another change where business will have to support employees who can and want to work at home.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s when the rate of change was slower employers were able to find the required skills outside the company and hire the skills required. That is no longer the case. Yet many companies are still in denial and refuse to spend money training their current employees.

Then the recent McKinsey Global Survey states that 69% of the reported respondents reported an increase in skill building. This pandemic has disrupted the skills foundation dramatically and companies are starting to acknowledge that they need to build new skills internally. Skills are lacking in empathy and leadership, adaptability and communications and problem solving. Critical thinking skills are seriously missing. According to Deloitte it can cost six times more to hire externally than to develop skills by training internally.

All of this is pointing to a serious challenge to our leaders. One that they have not had to face and deal with in their careers. The most important asset in any business is their employees. Yet this is the one asset that leadership has completely disregarded. They hire people and then leave them alone. If the skills required are no longer available, they get rid of the current worker and hire new people. It has been true and, in their minds, working for over three decades. This is no longer working. It should never have been the strategy. People are the most important asset in any way you look at it. And please don’t forget that this need for employee development is at every level in a business, from the owner to the least important job function.

I have advocated for years that we have skill sets tied to job functions. We put our assessment programs in place specifically to address this issue. We also wanted depth charts like in sports. Who is in line to follow the current leadership? We wanted succession planning. We also wanted annual performance reviews. These reviews allow positive discussions with each employee to determine the needs and wants of each employee. They provide an audience for discussions on continuous improvement. We have a lot of talent in our employees. Everyone of them. You all know I am interested in helping people identify their potential and then help everyone achieve that potential.

We must get going. Time is passing. And time is an element we don’t get back.

The Future Workplace will embrace new thinking. It will experiment more. We will try things. We have to make more progress in improving everything we do for our employees and our customers and our suppliers. We have to provide an environment where everyone wants to learn. We have to stop reacting and start innovating. We need to be able to adapt more readily. Some people call it agility. I call it basic common sense.

As a teacher I have always said common sense isn’t particularly common. Today we have a huge opportunity to turn the negativity since March 2020 into a positive response. Making the future of our desires and abilities. Are you ready?

The Time is Now.

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The 6 Behaviours of Successful Business Owners

The 6-Behaviours of Successful Business Owners

In tonight’s blog post, guest writer Bruce Baker shares the 6 Behaviours of Successful Business Owners. These key behaviours can make the difference in keeping your business thriving.

You have undoubtedly heard the depressing statistics of how many businesses fail within their first few years. I am one of the many who talk about the causes of failure and what to do about it and have the privilege of looking from the outside-in and the inside-out. I to have and continue to have my own experiences and understand why some business owners succeed and others fail repeatedly. Business owners only succeed because once they know what they want, they:

  • First, accept the challenge and work that builds their success and the failure that naturally forms as part of these efforts.
  • Choose to partner with those that have been successful not because of their “success” but because of what they learned from their “failures.”
  • Relentlessly execute to achieve what they’ve set out to do but not at their demise!

Human beings only make progress because of adversity and their insistence and commitment to execution – nothing more, nothing less. I wrote an article several years ago trying to explain (and justify, I suppose) how business owners fall in love with their goals but out of love with the actions that make these goals a reality.

The notion that business owners/CEOs would not grab what was staring them in the face to ensure success was mind-boggling.  I asked myself, “are people lazy?”; “are people this complacent?”.  Many are guilty of laziness and complacency when they don’t execute and fail as a result. Still, many also act out like a “wounded animal,” blaming everything they can other than themselves. Why? Because they become driven by their goals first instead of being aware and committing to the concessions they will have to make as part of achieving success.

Business owners I work with achieve their success because they choose to think and behave differently in the following six ways:

  1. They decide what they want but become excited by what they must do to become successful, regardless of whether it’s gaining or sacrificing.
  2. They expect and plan for failure.
  3. They seek out those that are successful as a result of their failures.
  4. They map out their plan and system(s) they will use to respond to inevitable failure that they will use to achieve success.
  5. They will succeed and be motivated to succeed again.
  6. They will fail and be motivated to fail again in the name of increasing their strength and resilience.
  7. They will not point fingers to justify their failures but identify the reason for failure and use it as a reason to continue to succeed.

I would love to take credit for their success, but realistically, I can’t. I provide business owners guidance and best-in-class business practices, but only they can decide if they want to succeed. I experience their successes and failures with them, but the successful ones see their failures as building blocks, not obstacles to their achievements.

You don’t need to be an expert Accountant or have a post-graduate degree in business to be successful. What you need is resilience, drive and a sense of humour!

Do you truly understand yourself?

  • Do you know exactly what your natural behaviours are that are either driving your success or holding you back?
  • Can you identify and take advantage of what drives you and what demotivates you in building your business and know what to do about it?
  • Do you know what the core competencies you need to develop to enhance your chances of business success?

If any of these questions resonate for you, send me an email at bbaker@4workplaces.com letting me know why they resonate with you. I’ll send you a complimentary assessment to complete so you can start discovering what you are not aware of about “you”! Once you become aware, your world opens and your mind is officially blown!

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Have You Noticed What Is Happening?

Have you Noticed What is Happening?

For the last several months I haver been receiving phone calls and emails asking me how dealers should be navigating this current workforce problem. Have you noticed? Let me give you some facts to consider. As of this writing there were 10,934,000 job openings in the USA. That is the highest number ever. Unemployment stands at 5.2%. The long term unemployed (more than 26 weeks) stands at 3,200,000. Surveys tell us that 5,700,000 people who are unemployed want a job. The average work week stands at 34.7 hours and the private non-farm average hourly pay is at $30.72.

Those are the facts. Are you looking for an individual to fill an opening you have in your business? Well perhaps this might give you pause. Gallup research from earlier this year, 2021, found that 48% of the American Workforce was actively looking to change jobs. What do you think is motivating people to want to change jobs? That same survey found that the real problem is employee disengagement. Patrick Lencioni in his book “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job” called it Irrelevance. The employees don’t feel that they are relevant to their employer.

Some of you will use this as ammunition to get everyone back to work in the office. That working from home caused this problem. Don’t come to that conclusion too quickly. It is not correct. Some jobs are more effectively done away from the traditional workplace. Yes, it will take some time to work this out. But make no mistake it is happening now.

Let’s return to Gallup for the reasons for this feeling of “disengagement.” The three most common reasons were:

  • Not seeing opportunities for development
  • Not feeling connected to the company’s purpose
  • Not having strong relationships at work

This is causing a major change in the role of management. Jon Clifton, Global Managing Partner at Gallup notes that even though 64% of the survey respondents didn’t feel engaged at work, that the proportion of engaged workers is growing over time. “One reason is that management strategies are changing. Companies are no longer promoting people to management roles because they are good at their job. Rather, they’re looking at management as a skill in and of itself, and making sure people are good at managing others before giving them more direct reports. Good managers mean more engaged employees and less turnover.” And to me here is the kicker. Employees that are engaged at work are far less likely to leave. Gallup found they’d need to be offered a 20% pay increase to even consider leaving.

I hope you, like I, consider this to be rather sobering news. This news should also force you to do some serious thinking about how you operate. How you engage your employees. Of course, this is nothing new, is it? You should always have been engaging your employees in the business. Who doesn’t know that? But please think about it. How do you engage your employees in your business?

  • Do you have perfunctory state of the company meetings once a quarter where the “Management” tours the stores and shares results with everybody? How is that going for you? Perhaps the Pandemic stopped that mode of communications. No, that is not engagement. That is public relations. What about the day- to-day interaction between the employee and their team leader, their direct supervisor? What do they talk about? What is your employee turnover rate? What do the employees who are leaving, tell you in exit interviews? Do you even do exit interviews? If you don’t do exit interviews you should ask yourself why you don’t.
  • Do you have annual performance reviews with each employee at least once a year? Sonya Law, one of our talented bloggers, has been writing about this for some time. We did Part #1 of a Podcast a couple of weeks ago and Part #2 will be coming shortly. Not very many businesses provide these performance reviews. They are missing a huge opportunity. Continuous improvement opportunities. Don’t forget that the person doing the job knows more about that job than anyone else. They can tell you ways that things can be made better. For them and for the company. This also give the supervisor the opportunity to explore what it is that the employee would like to do next, what they would like to learn. This is another way that employee engagement can be improved.
  • Do you offer, and pay for, any learning that the employee does? Amazon just announced that they will pay for all University education for their employees. Do you do that? Do you offer training programs for all employees? What we at Learning Without Scars advocate, and strongly so, is that each employee should take a Job Function Skills Assessment each year. This should be one of the foundation blocks for the annual review. This is also the gateway to discussions on classes and learning that the employee wants or needs.

Those are three simple questions that need to be answered if you are seriously wanting to protect your business by having your employees truly feel and believe that they are engaged. The choice is yours. This time, however, the consequence for no action is serious.

The time is now.

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A Watchkeeper or a Beekeeper?

A Watchkeeper or a Beekeeper?

In “A Watchmaker or a Beekeeper,” guest blogger Bruce Baker walks you through the main personality types in leadership roles, and how they can impact your business.

Low morale, low profits, lack of employee engagement, high turnover and rampant gossip can be attributed to a company being led by either a Watchmaker or a Beekeeper – care to guess which one is the culprit?

If you guessed Watchmaker, you’re right!

In James Fischer’s book, Navigating the Growth Curve, a Watchkeeper is a person who needs most business components to be predictable – something they can control at all times. They believe that to be effective, the “business machine” must be controlled by its operators. This is their overarching purpose of management – to control the business. They further believe that the machine exists for its builders’ primary purpose: to generate as much money as possible for its owners/stakeholders.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with making as much money as possible. Still, it is essential that building an intentional business must be done sustainably over the long term. This includes not profiting at the expense of the company’s employees and stakeholders. The better approach is as you might have guessed by this stage, is being a Beekeeper.

Beekeepers are always mindful and have hindsight and foresight when managing and growing their business. Instead of rejecting or resisting the complexity and chaos that certainty comes with business growth, Beekeepers embrace complexity and, at times, chaos by allowing their teams’ or hive’s intelligence to be the operator instead of themselves exclusively. They appreciate and understand that their business is a living and intelligent organism, and if allowed, will generate far more innovative ideas and sustainable solutions. As a result, the Beekeeper’s business will continually self-organize around its problems and challenges.

When reading the fable in Navigating the Growth Curve, Horace’s recommendation is for Peter to become more like a Beekeeper to capitalize upon his team’s collective intelligence. Peter initially tried very much to control every aspect of his team, causing anger, hostility, and disengagement, leading to a downward spiral that could have been prevented by merely asking for their input.

This is a hard lesson that business owners/leaders can’t seem to learn often enough. Unfortunately, we regularly find far more Watchmakers than Beekeepers primarily due to individuals insisting that they should have all the answers and asking for their employees’ input may put them in a negative light. This is far from the truth! The opposite is true.

There is a Beekeeper in all of us. Still, during our day-to-day challenges as business leaders intending to do the right thing, our Watchmaker tendencies take over more than often without us even realizing it.

The 7-Stages of Growth concepts and programs offered by Workplaces are designed to help leaders predict how complexity will affect them, focus their efforts and resources on the right things at the right time and adapt to their company’s needs as their business grows.

I want to share the first steps in the journey of becoming a Beekeeper referencing the 7 Stages of Growth Model and the Business X-Ray we take our clients through. We emphasize that the only complexity in any business is its people, starting with the business owner during this exercise. The business owner and the leadership team’s ability to embrace this complexity and leverage its power will take the company and team to the next level.

Let me share the initial 4-steps we start within the Business X-ray session that will set you on the course of business growth success.

  1. Recognize the intelligence of the team by asking its opinion.

As scary as this can be, once you have it behind you, you will be amazed at the results and the amount of ‘anxiety’ it can take off your plate. Most leaders we work with hesitate to ask for their team’s input/feedback. Many reasons come to mind, but the following are the regular reasons we come across:

  • How can they possibly know enough about the company to give me advice?
  • They’ll use it as a ‘bitch’ session, and I’ve heard enough of that.
  • I don’t have time to take their suggestions – I have my issues to deal with.
  • If I ask them for their opinion, they’ll expect me to do something with it, and I have enough to do right now.

Leading is all about learning how your company and the team think and feel can only be brought about by asking and engaging.

  1. Filter out the noise

Noise is only too common in the business world today. Too many things are important, leaving nothing that is truly “important.”  There are too many agendas that are not leveraged into concise plans of action, leading to low levels of focus and execution.  Once the team’s power is recognized and leveraged (i.e., all voices and their opinions are encouraged), critical issues are brought to the surface and problems are solved.  During the Business X-Ray session, key initiatives are identified with detailed action plans ensuring results are achieved.

  1. Unify the team around the plan

Once the key initiatives from the X-Ray are identified, the work begins. Communicate this information to the rest of the company either through group and individual meetings or the entire company at one time.  Ensure that each initiative has a ‘champion’ – someone willing to be the ‘team lead’ on getting to the end goal. A lot of work? You bet, but the rewards are well worth it!

  1. Implement organic and self-organizing systems reinforcing change

Organic and self-organizing systems include people engaging and achieving results together. This essentially allows the team to put their handprint on solutions and subsequent systems and processes that produce results. Leaders are working less hard and far smarter with less direct supervision, control, and micro-management.  Allowing this to happen brings about a path of least resistance which anyone in chaotic environments would strive for.

Practice being a Beekeeper and minimize the amount of time you spend as a Watchmaker. The results will be empowering for not just your team but for you as well.

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Making Our Teams and Ourselves More Successful

Making Our Teams and Ourselves More Successful

This week, guest writer Sonya Law walks us through the people skills we need as we work towards making our teams, and ourselves, more successful.

We achieve more as a team when we operate from a place of openness rather than fear – when we chose to thrive not just survive, we achieve more. On the road to getting there you will no doubt come across fear which is the greatest roadblock and inhibitor of growth and missed opportunities.

Recently I was asked to chair the Human Resources Summit for 2021 and immediately I went to FEAR, I said to them I think you have the wrong person.  They said no we don’t you are perfect for this; I remember then asking them what makes you think that?

The number one inhibitor of growth is fear. Rather than see the opportunity we sometimes succumb to FEAR.

WHY is that?

Usually it’s our own self-limiting beliefs, the story we tell ourselves that holds us back, the narrative.  We believe that we can only do something if we have done it before and we look for evidence that proves or disproves our fear.  When we operate in this way it is from what is called a fixed mindset.  Whereas a growth mindset is directed toward, I like to try new things.  The top three thought leaders and books that explore this in more detail are:

  1. Mindset, author Dr. Carol Dweck.
  2. Atomic Habits …author James Clear.
  3. What got you here won’t get you there …author Marshall Goldsmith.

As Albert Einstein said “We can’t use an old map to explore a new world”.

So, what’s holding you back?

It all flows from your mindset, through the lens of The Biology of Belief by Dr Bruce Lipton PHD says:

Your beliefs become your thoughts.

Your thoughts become words.

Your words become actions.

Your actions become habits.

Your habits become values.

Your values become your destiny.

To put it in a business context, our mindset, habits and values will guide your decision making, willingness to change and appetite for risk, innovation and growth.

So how do we overcome this?

  1. Self – Awareness, what is our narrative the story we tell ourselves?
  2. Become a lifelong learner, what matters is what we learn today and even more important what we will learn tomorrow.
  3. Cultivate a Growth Mindset, be open to feedback and willingness to

A great book that explores this further is The Journey BEYOND Fear, leverage the three pillars of POSITIVITY to build your success, by John Hagel.

Still the journey beyond fear is still a primal one and still many set themselves up for failure because they are not aware and not invested in changing their mindset or habits to orientate themselves toward success.  People still diet, even though they know they should exercise and eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep, we can be our own worst enemy by not engaging in healthy HABITS.

It’s the same with FEAR, if fear is a false expectation appearing real, why do we feed ourselves negative narratives about what we are capable of, thus limiting our potential?

How do we explore this further and adopt a practice of self-enquiry to gain insight into why we act the way we do?

Three very important questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the story I tell myself?

The Narrative is it consistent with me moving towards achieving my goals.

  1. Positive: is it enabling?
  2. Negative: is it Disabling?
  1. What am I passionate about?
    1. Positive: Do I focus on what I am passionate about what brings my life meaning, purpose and joy, does it align with my values?
    2. Negative: Or am I easily distracted and reactive?
  2. How am I choosing to respond and show up, what energy do I bring into the space? Do I explore opportunities?
    1. Negative: Do I practice avoidance and blame others.
    2. Positive: Or do I take responsibility and stay curious.

What are the benefits to a Team of operating from a place of openness rather than fear?

  • Openness to explore new ways of solving problems, collaboration,
  • Leads to Innovation,
  • Which facilitates Growth.

A good leader has vision and can frame the opportunity to be explored by the team.  Which allows the team to thrive not just survive, to innovate and grow both professionally and personally with passion.

If you are interested in a presentation on Growth Mindset, please contact Sonya Law from www.slhrconsulting.com.au.

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Your Company Legacy and the Digital Dealership

Your Company Legacy and the Digital Dealership

Tonight, guest blogger Mets Kramer continues to educate us on all the digital aspects of our business with a look at your company legacy and how it fits in with the Digital Dealership.

“In the past, the model for an organized business was a phone and a Rolodex (younger readers can Google what that is). The new digital platforms like your Website, CRM and marketing tools are now the modern Rolodex”

When my team started our marketing efforts, I was stunned to learn there were over 15,000 equipment dealers of all sizes, in North America.  A huge number of these dealers were small organizations, of 1 to 5 team members, who do great business buying, selling, or renting equipment.  In this blog, I want to address the value of Digital Dealerships and brand development for small organizations. This is especially important for those of you who started your dealership and are trying to find ways for your business to support you into your future.

Over the past few years, I have been lucky enough to work with many small dealers. I admire their tenacity; it takes a lot for these dealers to take their own fate into their hands. Often these dealers are smart and entrepreneurial; most come from larger dealers.  They saw a gap in the market, a niche, they could exploit and make a good living. Now their future depends on how well they execute.   For most of these dealers, their eventual legacy will be what sustains them into retirement and their future generations.

So how does this relate to the Digital Dealership?

One of the great things about the digital revolution in our industry is the potential to become, with a little investment, more than a person with a Rolodex. The Digital Dealership, or your digital presence, can help you extend your legacy well into the future in several ways.

  • First, your digital presence is like having an extra team member or sales rep. You’re existing and new customers can learn about you, answer questions they have for themselves and initiate communication with you all by going through your digital profile. I have seen lots of small dealers work hard to keep up with quotes, rentals and inventory information in a very laborious way. Each time sending emails with additional information like pricing. A well created digital presence can take some of this burden off you. Now, even if you are a team of one, you are actually a team of two, or even three. Creating and investing in a Digital Dealership establishes an effective sales path that’s open 24 hours per day. Now, you can focus on getting out to see customers instead of being stuck behind the desk.
  • Second, for a small growing dealership with big aspirations, a digital presence and platform helps you standardize. In many cases over the years, I have come across great dealers who are heavily dependent on one or two key salespeople. Usually, these key players are the owners, or a highly effective salesperson. The problem with this situation is repeatability. If one key person exits the business, it’s hard to recover. Creating a digital presence and a standard process, including CRM, makes your business repeatable. It lets you add new team members, set a standard operating practice so you can repeat what’s working, with new people. Your Digital platform can help to transition your customers and maintain the goodwill you’ve built over the years.

By creating a digital presence and developing a consistent brand, you become more than just a one-on-one relationship. Your hard work over the years, and that of your team, creates a legacy which can be easily understood by new people joining the team. This lets your customers feel like they are still dealing with the original creator of the business, who they first trusted to serve them.

More and more, we see new business relationships initiated from digital platforms. Buyers are looking for solid information, in addition to knowledge and great service.  In the past, the model for an organized business was a phone and a Rolodex. The new digital platforms like your Website, CRM and marketing tools are now the modern Rolodex. They help you organize and maximize the efforts you have put into the business for many years. Now you have the tools to have your business support you into the future.

To build is to have something that lasts; to create a legacy.

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Potential Employees

How Do Potential Employees Find Careers in Today’s World?

Through the past month or so Ed Gordon has been exposing his Job Shock series. A very sobering critique of the labor market and the potential employees out there today. Most of the dealers that I talk with these days are extremely concerned with their inability of being able to find and hire qualified people for their job openings. In fact, job openings are growing and the ability to find anyone is getting very difficult.

There are elaborate, and in some cases rather exotic, “packages” being created to induce people to join a dealership. Signing bonuses and retention bonuses have almost become ordinary for technicians anymore. And what about management and succession planning? It appears that the leaders in our Industry between the ages of 55 and 75 have paid more attention to their own compensation packages than to the ability of their companies to smoothly transition to the next generation. There was, generally speaking, no succession in place.

If we go backwards to a period in the twentieth century between 1920 and 1940, we have a serious economic depression which was preceded by the “roaring” economy. From the 1950’s through the 1960’s we had a slow growth and stabilization after the world war. The “greatest generation” was frugal and family oriented. Then the 1960’s and the beginning of “laissez faire” attitudes and the slogan of “if it feels good do it.” Coincidentally, they saw the arrival of a credit card and the decoupling of monetary policy from the gold standard. The rate of change was rather gentle but a foundation was being laid for the coming years.

In those previous generations there were typically five different stages in the career of an employee. It was predictable and iterative.

  • Exploration
  • Establishment
  • Middle Career
  • Late Career

Those terms are all rather self-explanatory and the transitions from one to another were also quite simple to see and obtain. It was a matter of increasing skills and knowledge, through schooling and training and experience. If you get that done then you will have opportunities for progress in your career.

There is another change, or transition going on now. Today more and more businesses think they hire talent and that is all that is required. If there needs change the employee is let go and a new one is hired. There is no need to train their employees or send them off to schools and classes. Similarly, today’s employees think that once they get a job, they are done with the need to continue learning or improving their skills.

Think about both of those positions in the world we live in today. Consider the rate of change, which is on a very steep exponential curve. It is actually amazing to contemplate that people think that they can stay in place with your skills and knowledge and not need to be continuously learning. Similarly, for a business not to be investing in their key contributors is just as amazing. What are they both thinking about?

There is a quotation from Goethe that I appreciate. “Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.”

A Skilled Workforce – the thing that matters most. Is being held hostage to Investing in Employee Development – the thing that matters least.

A Skilled Workforce, the employees I call your heroes, is required to serve your customers and satisfy your vendors. Without these heroes the dealership is in jeopardy. We have seen in the last thirty of so years a stunning level of consolidation. In part due to the need for vast amounts of capital to support the businesses. This is due, in large part, to the rapid run up prices for the equipment and products sold. There was also a need to invest in “systems” that were necessary to operate the business properly. Imagine, if you will, managing a parts inventory using a manual card system, the Kardex.

Now we are in our current market. There is a shortage of skilled people required to operate the businesses. The Universities and other education institutions are not delivering job ready skilled people as they once did. Capital Goods Dealerships are required to establish apprentice programs and mentoring or coaching new employees. Employees are having to adapt to the fact that their skills and knowledge will be measured with more precision and regularity. There is no easy path to more money or opportunity anymore. A true meritocracy is in its infancy. But make no mistake it is coming and more quickly than we can imagine today.

Learning Without Scars has responded to these changes and transitions due to the fact that we have listened to our customers. They have told us that they wanted to be able to measure the skills of their employees to determine what training is required to have the employee become more effective in their work. We have created the Job Function Skill Assessments as a result. These objective assessments have a score which determines the functional capabilities of each employee. Objectively. No opinions or favoritism or nepotism. These scores categorize the skills into four different levels; Developing, Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced. We have processed several thousand of these assessments to date, and have less than 2% of the employees in the Advanced skill level. We have found slightly more than 50% of the employees have a Beginning Skill Level. The employees were able to do the job they were taught to do. Process Orders but they didn’t know how to sell. Employees could do the repairs they were told to do but had few if any Diagnostic Skills. They could place Stock Orders that the system created but they didn’t know how to expedite for shortages, like the supply chain issues we have today. And there are as many more examples as there are tasks to perform. At Learning Without Scars we have also created Subject Specific Classes to allow each employee to overcome the “gaps” in their skills. This is the appropriate tool for skills and knowledge development for the needs of today.

Go to our Podcasts and listen to the audio explanation of the Job Specific Assessments (https://learningwithoutscars.buzzsprout.com/1721145/8055798-job-function-skills-assessments) as well as the Subject Specific Classes  (https://learningwithoutscars.buzzsprout.com/1721145/8139328-subject-specific-classes). That will provide you with all you need to know to be able to take advantage of these “up-to-date” business tools designed to help in the development of your employees skills and knowledge.

It is more than important for your success, that you have a skilled and trained workforce, it is critical. As they say you have to “have the right people on the bus” to get to your destination.

The time is now.

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