Peaks and Valleys

Every business has it peaks and valleys. Instead of fighting against it, welcome them! The valleys allow you time to get in touch with the innovative ideas that can come as big waves or skim quietly across your mind.  Your mind-set is crucial to ensuring you don’t quickly dismiss an idea without discussing it with others, or grab on to “the next best thing” too quickly without proper review. Stay focused on your company’s primary stream of income and run a parallel system with your new business idea.  Stay focused on quarterly milestones to ensure both sets of plans are on track and that weekly-focused action plans are being implemented.  For additional help, contact

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Do your employees feel safe?

With white-collar crime and substance abuse on the rise, the chances of your company hiring co-workers and bosses with different sets of values has greatly increased. Poor hiring practices will cause your employees, clients, and vendors to distrust you and your company. The good news? Poor hiring practices can be changed! Although the results derived from using qualified hiring tools and processes cannot guarantee 100 percent success, objective information will always improve your selection decisions. Remember, as a business owner and/or executive, you have a fiduciary responsibility to protect your employees, customers, proprietary information, tools, and communities. (

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Are You a Good Entrepreneur?

If you answer “Yes” to any of the following questions, you might be like many other entrepreneurs and business owners, who would rather have a root canal than take a cold hard objective look at their businesses and how they manage them. Each “yes” is a signal that it’s time to talk with a business mentor and hire yourself a coach before it’s too late:

  • Are your financials in the red – or bright pink? Sadly many self-employed business owners are afraid of numbers. Do you find it so scary to take a close look at the numeric metrics of how you are doing, you wait until you are forced to do so? Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) do apply to you. Hire a bookkeeper or your CPA to help you set up your books. If you are not reliable to keep them updated on a weekly basis, hire someone who can.
  • Are your customers leaving and new ones are not filing in? Many times we get caught up in the “bright shiny object” of our ideas. We miss the fact that others don’t “get” what we are selling. Hire a marketing coach and/or a social media professional (even if you are already using social media) to help you objectively look at your offerings and clarify your message.
  • Have you become arrogant and egotistical – a jerk? Most “jerks” are unable to identify themselves as such. If you wonder, just ask your closest friends. Being a bad boss, having no one want to work for you takes its toll on you and others.  So does having clients leave in frustration, unwilling to work with you. Everyone can learn effective management and customer service skills that will work for them, if they are committed to the process.
  • Are you unable to decipher between good and bad advice?  Poor decision-making is a visible sign of someone who may not have the business maturity to be a good business owner. Are you able to take coaching and implement it effectively? Your improved results are the markers that best signify to others you’re doing well and your business is moving in the right direction.
  • Do you have high turnover? This is a reflection of poor hiring skills and systems, even if you get lucky once in a while. Hire the right person(s) and you look like a superstar.  Hire the wrong person(s) and you’ll may need or want to close the doors and start all over again.  Work with your coach to implement a legal and valid process. It will make all the difference in your success. 

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Don’t Get Bit in the Financial Butt!

Perfection is a myth, yet, many companies engage in seeking the “perfect solution” to stay competitive and improve the bottom line. A few are doing a great job by focusing on “viable solutions.” Most, however, are realizing mixed results due to reliance upon the same old practices that have long surpassed their peak. Less savvy companies are simply hanging on to their soon-to-be outdated products and services. They are afraid to make changes, despite their customers’ requests, and dismal sales.

Why have many business owners stopped listening during this critical time? They fear the change process. They don’t understand how to create a blue print for success. They falsely believe that since riding it out it worked in the past, it will work now. Sticking your head in the sand (think, ostrich) will only get your financial butt bit – hard!

Navigate change now. Waiting won’t change anything! Management needs to seek the right guidance and alter their paradigm to include change. It doesn’t need to a big, evil, costly endeavor. It’s time to hear employee and customer ideas with an open attitude. A simple twist of the wheel may gain the competitive advantage. Proper alignment, direction, and training to manage ever-changing economic factors will keep your doors open for business!

Talk Straight. Give the members of your staff the opportunity to contribute, appropriately. Brainstorming isn’t about judging ideas as right or wrong, or good or bad.  It’s simply a process to gather ideas. Often, off-the-wall ideas are winners once they are narrowed down and fine-tuned. Determine the ROI and viability of the final cuts, and during implementation and execution, train everyone to ensure consistency and positive results. Focused action is the key.

Big Picture vs. Small Details. Some people tend to get caught up in the “bright shiny object” of the bigger picture; others get lost and don’t understand how to move from “here” to the vision of “there.” Create a strategy to put everyone on the same page. Break tasks down into “bite-sized pieces.” Keep listening to and communicating with your team. When you hit the inevitable walls that crop up due to poor planning or implementation, do not reduce your expectations of intended results! Readjust your strategy as necessary, but remember: the success or failure of any idea is in the details.

Hire a Business Mentor. If management is too narrowly focused on people considerations OR on bottom line financials, it could stymie the forward movement required to achieve the expected results. A business mentor helps you blast through the stumbling blocks that change causes. A business mentor helps you make the hard decisions that may be unpopular, at least initially. S/he can also help you create business savvy solutions that balance people and numbers. Someone from outside your organization can see landmines coming up more clearly than you can, since you are so close to the situation. S/he helps you recognize and navigate around them, and enables you to move forward with speed and confidence.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2010

Costly Promotions

Companies are very focused on being cost conscious, especially in the current economic climate. Many bosses have promoted their key employees too quickly, beyond their skill level — to their level of incompetence. Bosses falsely believe they are saving time and money, but this type of reactive decision-making ends up being costly and has a detrimental impact on the company. Sadly, the once successful employee feels forced to leave the company when her/his continued contribution is short-circuited, and will rarely go quietly.

Since the person was previously treated as an asset to the company, it is often unclear as to why this sudden experience of failure is happening. Instead of having a professional conversation with her/his boss to provide solutions to this dilemma, s/he blames extraneous factors and looks for a new job, outside the company. The real issues? The newly promoted person may not have taken the time, or taken advantage of the opportunities, to develop the interpersonal skills required for the new position. Perhaps s/he has not learned how to delegate or is unable to prioritize and manage multiple issues well. S/he may simply lack the interest and ability to quickly learn the skills required for performance success (e.g., technology, financial, mechanical, sales, etc.) in this new position.

Time to get real. Newly promoted people may be unable to acclimate appropriately when business needs change rapidly. Where did the old adage, “sink or swim” come from? It didn’t work then and doesn’t work now. Unfortunately, employees feel they can not say “no” to their bosses’ requests without hurting their career. If they may agree, their naiveté can create additional issues and stresses since they do not possess the required depth and breadth of experience. It’s time to create a win-win development plan that helps the employee succeed and meets the needs of the business.  Be realistic – it takes time. Employees won’t suddenly become great managers if they have poor people skills. Employees with no interest in financial monitoring will not handle their budgets well. Top sales people will not make the best bosses. Remember, accepting mediocrity loses customers internally and externally.

Provide an outside coach. An outside coach can provide insights that the corporate mindset and culture may overlook. The employee will feel more comfortable sharing her/his challenges and fears, confidentially. They know many bosses have long memories, and don’t want the risk. Ensure there is clarity of goals to be accomplished every three months. Write them down. Put together action plans for implementation. Monitor effectiveness. Keep it simple and smart!

Keep valued employees. Although egos play an important role in a person’s ability to stay and thrive after a failure, it requires the boss’s dedicated intention to keep a valued employee! Find a position within the company where s/he can be successful. Don’t be afraid to create a new position to keep the person, but use a scientifically validated assessment tool to ensure you’re not simply creating another new issue. The cost of hiring a replacement is much greater than realigning a job description to match up employee skills with business needs. Provide focused training and development so the employee can gain the skills s/he lacked that caused the demotion in the first place. This allows the employee to experience success once again, and provides her/him with the opportunity to be promoted in the future.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2010

More Money Does Not Equal Better Results

Too often employers are held hostage when employees demand more money to do the job they were hired to do. Since most employees are paid by the hour and not by the task, it’s difficult to know when to reward someone with additional compensation, particularly when you don’t have stated and objective performance results for each position. Unfortunately, even though everyone says “money is not a motivator,” many employees have the false perception that money will indeed motivate them!

It starts with clarity in your hiring process. Since most hiring processes are fraught with improper and antiquated methods of selecting people, it’s important that you are clear on expectations for the job. Then, hire the right person based upon needs for the job, not his or her ability to sell themselves! Remember, the wrong person in the right job will rationalize poor compensation as the reason for poor performance.

Set up clear expectations on Day One. Onboarding new employees requires the boss to provide a written outline and timetable for producing the required results, along with an accurate job description. To create a win/win for a new employee, the boss needs to stay involved, working through the new employee’s honeymoon period, and beyond. Do not make mention of additional compensation opportunities until after a six-month period. Communicate a clear expectation – in writing – of the results required for the new employee to receive any added monetary perks.

Compensate based upon results. Too often, employers compensate based upon promised results. If employees who don’t deliver these results receive the money anyway, they get a pretty clear message that achieving performance goals is not truly important. It is wise to devise a plan that is performance based. Make sure the goals are objective and attainable.

 ©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Generating Ideas for Profit

Many entrepreneurs and business professionals love to think up new and innovative ideas all the time. It’s fun. It keeps the ego alive and happy.  Unfortunately, an inability to take these ideas from start to profitability often impedes progress. When the ego gets in the way, the focus of moving an idea from the conceptual into the practical drops.  Some simply don’t have the business experience and fail to create a practical plan. Others are easily distracted by the “bright shiny object” and neglect to finish executing the steps necessary to finish the project.

Delve into your ideas.  Complete a strategic plan along with a reasonable return on investment (ROI). If an idea seems to have a positive ROI, make a detailed tactical plan. Again, review your ROI to ensure you haven’t inadvertently made it unprofitable. Recognize that some ideas simply cannot be made into a profitable venture.

Keep Additional Ideas.  Write these ideas down anyway and file them for later review.  It might be worth revisiting them in the future, from a fresh perspective. You can focus most effectively on launching only one profitable project at a time. 

Beware the lure of bright shiny objects. Too often the shininess of new ideas rivets our attention and we quickly lose interest in any current project. If we haven’t developed the brain power to work through ideas carefully, the cloudiness of implementation overwhelms us before we even get started.

Create Focused Action Plans. It’s crucial that you work with a Business Coach to provide clarity and ease in developing a plan for success, and to ensure financial profitability. Remember, the success or failure of any project is in the details. Hence, the need for a detailed and Focused Action Plan. 

When you hit the proverbial wall, it is time to make a critical assessment before implementing any changes.  What is working? What is not working? Knowing the specifics will prevent making arbitrary or unnecessary changes (aka sidetracked by new ideas) that sabotage success and drain time, money and energy.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Superstar Clashes Getting You Down?

As a boss, it’s challenging to manage high performers. Most of these superstars know they know their stuff.   Since they believe others are less knowledgeable and less capable than they are, it sometimes taxes them to listen to others. Even their boss! 

If they’re causing you sleepless nights, most likely you aren’t the only one. As their boss, it’s up to you to manage them and their egos, to keep them engaged and growing with your company.

Look beneath the surface.  We falsely believe that if a top performer does well in one area, s/he will do superbly in other areas, too. Unfortunately, if you’re not using scientifically validated assessment products to ascertain their thinking style, core behavioral traits, and occupational interests, you may lose them. Superstars hate to fail. Provide them challenges, not to be confused with busy work, which they are quick to spot and resent.

Manage their expectations.  While you may believe your top performers are flawless, it’s not the reality. When they make mistakes, hold them accountable, just as you would any other employee. Have a come down to reality conversation focused on 2-2-2:

  • Two things they do well
  • Two very specific areas for improvements
  • Wrap-up by acknowledging two of their best contributions

Expect good people skills. Too often as bosses, we overlook our superstars’ interpersonal skills. When we step into a dispute to resolve it for them too soon, it creates more animosity between the superstar and co-workers (or clients). Instead, expect them to work it out themselves.  Wait until a situation is brought to your attention, or others complain. Then it’s appropriate for you to act.  Set a time and place for them to create a solution and work it out. Conflict resolution can be made easier when you use scientifically validated assessment products (e.g., 360-degree feedback tools focused on the job traits and not whether someone is likeable, or not) that help others see themselves objectively in relationship to others.

Money is not a motivator. While your superstars may demand more and more money, higher salaries will not provide the incentive necessary for them to continue to excel. Find other ways of compensating them based upon results (e.g., perks, vacations, gift certificates, etc.). 

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Got client loyalty?

Many of us falsely believe that once we have a client they are ours for life. We stop doing the little things that differentiate us from our competition. Perhaps we rank order our clients in order of revenues received, and respond to them accordingly.  Or we fail to form strong relationships that will get us through any “bumps in the road.”

Be a great advocate.  People are looking for quality and service not just a good price.  Most clients are willing to pay extra for the right connection, service and knowledge.  Clients love to do business with people they like and enjoy, particularly vendors who share their products and services with their own clients. 

Connections.  Treat these clients as “gold” and look for the “little things” that  make the difference.  For example, if you enjoy researching family genealogy, share resources.  If you love stock car racing, pics of nature, or a particular sport, connect with them on FaceBook and post your pics or other activities.

Responsiveness.  Minimizing the importance of others’ requests will not keep them as your client. What may seem obvious to you, will not be readily apparent to others.  If there are complaints, handle them as quickly as possible.  If there is a constant nay-sayer, or you repeatedly receive the same or similar requests, provide these clients free training, either one-on-one or in a webinar.

Customer Service Blitz.  Conduct a Customer Service Blitz designed to get your staff on the same page.  This will allow them to do what they do best: 

  • Sales people focusing on selling
  • Customer service advocates handling the details. 

Train your staff in the nuances of client management, share legacy knowledge with them of client issues and situations.  Encourage and enable them to continually cultivate client loyalty.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

What is your capacity? Planning & Growth

What is your capacity to handle new clients without reducing what you deliver? The focus of small business owners everywhere tends to be the same: Making money, paying bills–not building systems and people, not planning capacity.

As entrepreneurs, we usually believe we can handle an increase in sales volume. It’s what we seek, it’s the holy grail of growth—right? Unfortunately, unplanned rapid growth can send any business to an early grave. Often, only after the fact of rapid growth do we discover we didn’t have systems and people to meet our growing needs.  Customers have little patience for trial and error. Waiting until necessity drives development of systems and people, we miss the opportunity to proactively increase capacity.  Ultimately, we damage profitability, and our reputation. So, how do we dodge the bullet?

Hire the Right People. Hiring the best can be a slow process. We must answer three questions:”Can they do the job?” (capacity); “How will they do the job?” (behavior); and, “Will they do the job?” (occupational interest—is this what they want to do?) All three questions must also be context-specific: “Can they do this job here?” If the questions are asked properly and answered clearly, the probability of hiring someone who fits the job increases. Research confirms it: people who fit their jobs produce more, stay longer, and create happier, more profitable workplaces!

Clarify strengths and weaknesses. When your capacity doesn’t change much, employees stagnate!  Those who might have handled new challenges have left for new opportunities, usually with your competition.  Current employees may have effectively departed while still on your payroll—a problem Harvard Business School calls “presenteeism.” A clear view of each of each employee’s “true” interests is critical. Remember, it’s an ongoing process: A wise entrepreneur once said, “When you think you have it all handled, you’ve set yourself up for failure.” Our working systems are often created by employees for their own convenience, not necessarily for your customers. Worse, we rarely know what our systems really are, and employees modify them continuously.

Customers have their own, private opinions about your business. Ask them questions, directly and indirectly:  What works for you, our customer? What do we do that does not work?  Allow them to clarify. What do they need from you? What else would they like from you?

Develop accountability and responsibility in your employees, managers and yourself.   Simply having feedback is one thing, acting productively on it is another—and acting is harder!  Measure skills in your managers, and plan to improve them. Make sure everyone realizes it’s an ongoing process: “Perfection is a direction, not a place.” Handle problem employees now! If you have an employee unable to do the job, be fair and let them go.  Hire slowly, fire quickly.

One manager put it very well: “The most expensive employee time I have is the interval between when I realize they have to go, and when I actually make it happen.” An effective manager must concentrate on, and measure, results.  ”Working hard” is a valuable part of the systems producing your total results, but is rarely sufficient. Focus on these fundamentals of business, and you will soon see new opportunities for growth in your business, based on planned increases in your capacity!

Copyright © Jeannette L. Seibly and John W. Howard, 2004-2010

Jeannette Seibly, Principal of SeibCo, LLC takes your company to the next level by creating leaders, success and results. Whether it be generating your next million, making a strategic difference or resolving people issues, SeibCo, LLC is your partner in causing unprecedented results and impacting your bottomline.

John W. Howard, Ph.D., owner of Performance Resources, Inc. helps businesses of all sizes increase their profits by reducing their people costs. His clients hire better, fire less, manage better, and keep their top performers.