Reading is really important to me. Mostly I read stuff to help me with my business. What I find so interesting is more often than not when I read something it’s something I already know to be true.
I don’t mean that as a "know it all," but after you’ve been in business for as long as I have, and since I’m a student of the game, I’ve either seen it all, heard it all or done it all. That’s just a fact of life.
But, what I also know to be true is that we have to be reminded from time to time about some of the many things we know to be solid, fundamental business principles.
I’m reading a book right now titled "It’s Okay To Be The Boss," by Bruce Tulgan. If you’ve not read it you really should. The premise of the book is pretty much what the title says. It’s really ok to be the boss especially if you know how to manage yourself.
One of the key points the book makes is that if you walk into a restaurant and get poor service then you should not be mad at the person performing the service. You should be mad at the boss.
If people are performing poorly then it’s because they were the wrong hire, they haven’t been properly trained or they are not doing what they have been trained to do. In all of those cases, it’s the boss’s fault.
The boss has a responsibility to hire the right people, make sure people know how to perform their jobs and then demand that they do so. The greater responsibility of a boss is to hold people accountable to do what they are supposed to be doing. It’s foolish to try to hold someone accountable if you’ve not done your job correctly as "the boss."
The biggest issue is that most "Bosses" don’t hold people accountable. Even when they do it’s a half-hearted effort at best and there are no consequences tied to that accountability. (Talk about a morale killer.) Accountability with no consequence is an empty threat that falls on deaf ears.
My good friend John Malishenko, the Director of Operations for the Germain Group out of Columbus, OH and Naples, FL uses a quarterly "action plan" to make sure people are doing what they say they are going to do. John has some factory background (don’t hold that against him) so he’s used to using such a tool. Might be something you should try. It’s a whole lot more likely something will get done when it’s put down in writing.
An "action plan" clearly stays what the issues are and a plan of action to fix them. It tells you who’s going to do what, how and when. The biggest problem with action plans is "follow through" and "accountability."
It’s one thing to lay it out, it’s a far greater thing to make sure it’s done and that there are consequences if it’s not. The answer is not always to "fire someone," but sometimes the answer is to "fire someone." The automobile business is famous for hanging on to the wrong people far too long.
Yes, it’s always important to see the "good" in people, but you also have to see the "bad" in people and have the courage to take action. Either get them on track or put them on a track heading out the door.
Never forget, you’re not running a democracy. You’re running a business that should generate the greatest profits possible for its investors and stockholders.
If the action plan is laid out and the goals are not being achieved then either you are a lousy action planner or you’ve got the wrong people taking action. At some point the only choice is to fire someone.
Please don’t fire me. That’s all I’m gonna say. Tommy Gibbs