Fast Tracking Solutions Blog

Do you work for this ego maniacal boss?

One of the advantages of consulting with businesses across the US is you see the companies that get it and the many companies that don’t. Sometimes observing the companies that will never understand the formula for sustained success can be very valuable. These companies take on values and beliefs that are easy to identify as the foundation of their lackluster performance but they haven’t a clue nor do they want to get it.

We can all learn from these companies. Observing what not to do is as valuable as determining the best path of success. I recently spent the last several years observing one such company that for this blog will remain nameless. After all, exposing this organization for what they are wouldn’t change anything other than the writer receiving legal papers…

Here is what was profoundly evident within this business that we all should keep top of mind to never do;

  1. The owner is so self- absorbed that he would rather lose business than forgo having his ego sufficiently massaged. You know the type, they ask everyone in the organization to read the most progressive leadership books for an offsite retreat and the content couldn’t be any further from what they do and how they behave on a daily basis. Classically, this leads to the team being confused and ultimately frustrated.
  2. The leadership team is obsessed with making every decision based on pleasing the owner not what actually will grow the business. Usually the team attempts to do the right thing but quickly determines that they won’t obtain the owners support for execution because he had no authorship.
  3. Management tells the owner what they believe will further their individual favor. Typically, the owner is oblivious that he as any discontent in his business and believes based on the feedback he receives that his leadership is well respected by the troops.
  4. Perspective on how you compete is totally driven by the owners inflated self that what they offer in the marketplace is second to none. Companies falling into this category always have a slow but steady  loss of market share and profit but the company line of being the best continues to resonate throughout the hallways of corporate.
  5. Strategies are created based on the owner’s exposure to a leadership council group or the latest book being read. Little ownership to execution occurs and therefore more initiatives are passed down through the rank and file with the hope that something will actually stick. This type of business finds itself scrambling to have successful change implemented and people involved quickly conclude the flavor of the month theme.
  6. Micromanagement is the common approach. Everything becomes a detail review needing days of analysis and explanation. This type of leader uses the minutia to control and assures nothing occurs without their face being on the front cover.

Sadly from my perspective, the worst outcome from a company like the one I describe is that the people who are the company never are fulfilled, they are consistently underutilized, and rarely have any self worth at the end of the experience. They remain with the business because they are convinced their market value has decreased and that they truly no longer can compete in an organization that values input, collaboration, self respect and truthfulness.

So what do you do with this information? Well the answer is simple. Be alert, aware and be 100% strident in assuring that if these attributes described above exist in the business you work into today, that you are putting plans in play to leave. That’s right leave….Changing these leaders are impossible. The best avenue to take is one of exiting.

Don’t let a business owner crush your spirit, performance, creativity and future.  Be strong and self confident and you will avoid what unfortunately many have and continue to experience.

Should you Outsource your Human Resource Function???

Most small to mid size builders today have found themselves without any internal professional Human Resource function. Either that function was a casualty of the many layoffs over the last 5 years or it never existed to begin with.

The builders, who remain in the game today, are alive because they utilized situational leadership during these tough economic times and focused on cost cutting, raising capital and finding that next buyer not employees.

Today is the time to begin to modify your thinking on the human resource asset of your business.  I have written previously that many employees at all levels are unhappy with their current employment opportunity and would leave for a competitor if opportunities existed. This next year we will start to see this migration.

Knowing that cash is still king for the builder, hiring an in-house people pro still is out of reach for many in our business. Outsourcing this competency can give your organization a real competitive advantage and save you the pain of the fixed cost that comes with it.

You should expect an outsourced professional to;

-          Assure that you are legal in all people practices

-          Gauge current development and satisfaction levels of your employees and implement actions to optimize both.

-          Evaluate all compensation and offer a uniform solution that maximizes understanding and execution of individual and company performance metrics while creating the greatest ROI on every compensation dollar spent.

-          Coach Managers and Executives on infrastructure, performance reviews, organizational design, process and people decisions which when improved will increase productivity.

-          Assist in tying people strategies to business and operational plans

Your people will be the next focal point for our success as we start to come out of this recession. Most builders will ignore it or get a late start in preparing. If you are interested in breaking away from the pack, this outsourced people strategy will assist greatly in you achieving your business mission in 2012.


Fast Track your Strategies….

I took a detour the last two years in my consulting career in residential home building by leading one of the largest real estate brokerage firms in the US.  It was an interesting assignment but offered very similar challenges as what I have seen in the home building arena for the last 25 years. The most outstanding  issue that seems to cut across all organizations in real estate whether in home building or within real estate brokerage firms  is the opportunity of converting the owner/leaders ideas and strategies into actionable, executable  plans that produce results.

I have never found a business owner lacking in ideas or the vision to be able to conquer their latest market opportunity. They typically find it easy to come up with change related strategies, but inevitably get frustrated when their people struggle in actually implementing these strategies across their business.

I have found the common denominator for these owner/leaders who are not able to execute at an acceptable level to be their style in how the change process or strategy has been introduced to the people in and out of the organization. The classic approach is; I have an idea to help my business, I will develop it, add structure to it, decide how it will work and tell everyone this is the new way of working. I will expect it to be embraced, consistently applied and flawlessly executed.

The reality is that most of our employees don’t really understand the owner’s vision, how their work fits into that vision and typically have no ownership or authorship in the development or execution of the outcomes.

So how is it that we are so disappointed when our strategy and ideas never take hold and give us that ROI we so rightfully know should occur?

My recommendation to all you leader/owners is to use what I call the Fast Track process. This is certainly not a novel idea but for our industry it is rarely utilized.

A Fast Track process identifies a healthy cross section of your stakeholder population, ( employees. contractors, leaders, etc) offers some structured preparation work and assessment and then takes groups of 10 to 80 into a room for 18 hours over a period of three days. Each day is filled with techniques and processes to have everyone participate, propose ideas and to eagerly accept and welcome accountability for execution. The end result is a full committed workforce, using 100% of their discretionary time and focused behaviors to assure the results the company needs for success.

Owner/ leaders get to finally see their ideas and strategies come to fruition while the workforce leaves feeling empowered, valued and energized around a common vision. It a total win win.

Many of us reach the conclusion that rank and file employees are not experienced or competent enough to participate in such visionary processes.  This may be certainly true is some cases but if your goal is to fully implement change, the choice must be to get these key, influential people involved and engaged.

If you are interested in more information on this Fast Track process , I would be happy to fill in the blanks.