What do you do when your boss keeps making the same mistakes?

This can happen for a variety of reasons. One is that bosses don’t recognize their errors—they miscalculate the impact of their decisions because they are focused on the big picture and overlook the details, or vice versa. Or, they rely upon their financial, technical, and system interests while failing to include the human aspects required for a successful outcome. When bosses are clueless about their oversights and fail to ask the right questions, they normally blame others for not providing the whole picture. Don’t be passive. Become effective in recommending solutions. Take time to research and provide two or three alternatives, along with details for the execution of each proposed solution. Present these ideas both from a factual and a human perspective by introducing information that is the boss’s primary interest first, and then share the other important pros and cons.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

What process do you use to effectively work with your boss?

Do you know when to trust the data or your instincts?

Successful leaders have to grapple with this dilemma often. They believe their intuition is telling them what the true answer is. Or, they want to trust the numbers. However, intuition can be wrong and 100 percent reliance on data can send you down the wrong path too. Developing a strong business balance between statistics and your sixth sense takes experience, time, and practice. As business owners and executives know, making the wrong decisions can cost the company more than money. It can also cost their reputation, clients, and top talent.

What do you do when you don’t trust the data? Trust the process. For example: When you hire a person based upon your gut reaction, even when the facts disagree, you didn’t trust your selection system. The truth is, failure to pay attention to good objective information will negatively impact your decisions.

Better questions to ask yourself: Do you know how to correctly use qualified hiring tools and follow a strategic selection process? (BizSavvyHire.com)  Do you have an unconscious habit of hiring and firing until you find the right person? (Hint: Honestly look at your turnover numbers.) Asking these types of questions can help you determine the underlying (aka real) reason you may not trust the data. 

Which one do you trust when your data or intuition is contrary to others’ opinions? Trust yourself and be open to being right and wrong. For example, many times when a company is experiencing difficulty achieving results, it’s because a controlling leader or dominating team member made erroneous judgments based heavily on facts or feelings. Learn to ask good business questions and listen to people’s responses. Being open to changing your mind doesn’t mean you have to. However, being adamant that you are right is usually a sign of impending disaster.

Strong leaders trust themselves and know how to develop win-win outcomes by working with and through others. They are prepared for the downside of any decision. They use their results as dashboards to develop trust in themselves and others when making balanced factual and intuitive decisions.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Don’t allow your better judgment to be thwarted.

Most busy professionals allow their better judgment to be thwarted in an attempt to look good, save time, or keep their job, a client, or an employee.  Making bad decisions can take its toll on you, the company, and your team. Take time to breathe before making a decision. Yes, the simple act of breathing and counting from 1 to 10 before making a decision can save you 10 minutes, months, or years in attempting to rectify that moment.

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

Got Sales Smarts?

While many companies are busy blaming the economy for their reduction in sales, smart companies are reassessing their sales teams and focusing their money and attention on top performers. Why? They often sell more – exponentially – than others. 

For the past decade, many products and services were sold to non-discriminating buyers.  Sales people did not need to learn the art of selling to make sales. Buyers often bought without first validating the functionality, legality, integration or longevity of their purchase.  (Think electronics, mortgages, bank loans, lease-options, etc.) They relied upon the sales person to tell them what they wanted to hear. Now, limited budgets are spawning much more selective consumers.

Successful sales people first learn how to deal with a buyer’s first impression, and effectively handle fear of new products or services. They understand how to work with busy people who rely upon yesterday’s experiences and overlook the value of today’s new products or services.

These top performers sell up to six times more than average sales people who do not incorporate objective data into their repertoire to facilitate the buyer’s decision making process. 

What does it take to sell more?

First and foremost: Get real about who is a top performer. We hire for job skills and fire for poor job fit. Many sales executives and business owners still rely upon their gut and other antiquated methods for determining one’s ability to sell their product or service.  Unfortunately, they falsely believe that a person’s verbal ability to talk the talk will ensure sales ability. As a result, they miss out on hiring top performers who could have made the difference between an adequate bottom line and a great financial outcome.

Use scientifically qualified assessment products and it will make all the difference in hiring the right person who can sell. You cannot fix and change someone who does not possess the right job fit skills for your sales requirements. Thinking style accounts for over 50% of a person’s success; core behaviors (can they close?) and occupational interests (do they possess up-to-date info?) round out the other 50%.

Another falsehood: We believe that high energy type people make better sales people. This myth can create many problems. 

  1. High energy is not just “younger employees”
  2. This type person can actually deter potential buyers, particularly in a long sales cycle or in developing a long-term relationship
  3. This belief is discriminatory and focuses on personality issues that statistically don’t make a difference!

Focus on sales results.  Traditionally, poor sales people have relied upon brochures, websites, credentials or social network data to sell their products or services. For many products and services, this didn’t work then, and certainly does not work now, even with the increase in web-based purchases. Buyers have become more selective, and rely upon their “relationship” with their sales rep. 

Pay attention to your sales team’s communication style. 

  • Will the person listen to the buyer’s needs and provide value-add solutions?
  • Can they quantify the product or service details vs. their competition?
  • Will they close the sale? Can they up-sell and cross-sell to address future needs?

Additional communications basics that are often missed:

  • Say please and thank you – still works. 
  • Learn proper email etiquette – it’s not hard.
  • Follow-up and follow-through — still required to get and keep customers.
  • Greet someone with the proper handshake — makes a difference.
  • Talk voice-to-voice — still required for many purchases.
  • Pronounce people’s names correctly — it’s still a must!

Do it now. Objectively assess your sales team’s ability to sell. Focus your attention and money on your top performers. Train those who have the potential, based upon the right job fit. Sales will naturally – and exponentially – escalate. 

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

When employees make costly mistakes ….

As bosses and executives, we do our best to ensure our employees are given the tools they need to do their job well (e.g., computer, desk, policy manuals, etc.).  However, non-tangible aspects of a job can be roadblocks to their successes (e.g., limited people skills, lack of discretion or business savvy, inability to work well with boss and co-workers, inability to plan properly or make decisions within appropriate timeframe, etc.). These aspects of poor job fit can devastate profitability. Moreover, how you handle these occurrences may help your employees learn from their mistakes and ultimately make or break your own career.

First and foremost, use scientifically validated assessment tools for hiring, coaching and managing your employees for success. Good job fit most often reduces the chance of costly mistakes on the job. [Contact JLSeibly@gmail.com for further details.]

Gossip. Everyone does it, but unfortunately, there is no way to know who else is listening. The people seated at the next table in the coffee shop may learn invaluable information that they can use to get a competitive lead with a prospective client, or even proprietary information for product development.  It is imperative to periodically remind employees of their confidentiality agreements and advise them of the sensitivity of the information they may possess.

Zero tolerance. When major errors in judgment happen, it’s best for all employees to know proper protocols and be empowered to implement them immediately, such as contacting the boss, the appropriate human resources executive and/or company attorney.  Do not be fooled into assuming theft, harassment or safety violations won’t happen on your watch.  If the unthinkable does happen and someone is killed or hurt on the job, damage control will fall to you.  What if key employees leave due to a perceived hostility in their work environment, or your company files for bankruptcy? These unfortunate occurrences quickly and irrevocably change your daily reality and do not bode well for your career or the company’s reputation. 

Finesse is necessary.  Handling delicate issues can be a challenge for everyone. Every company has a client or vendor, business associate, or business partnership that didn’t work out due to ethical reasons. Unfortunately, some employees may not understand the significance of these unwritten no-no’s (e.g., don’t do business with, etc.). Empower your employees to navigate these no-win issues knowledgeably and work with them to minimize the impact and fall-out.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

What if your boss is wrong …

What do you do when someone says something untrue? What if that someone is your boss?

Pick your time and place. Many professionals have inadvertently sabotaged their own careers by telling a boss s/he is wrong — in front of others. It is better to wait until you can have a one-on-one meeting. Be sure to prepare the facts in a manner that your boss will appreciate (e.g., written, numeric, graph, articles, etc.).

Be willing to step in professionally. If you see someone is about to sign a contract or make an agreement, and you know the facts are incorrect or have changed, take action. Be willing to stop the meeting and ask for a confidential conversation with your boss and/or management team.

Let it go. Understand that no matter what the facts are, some bosses make their decisions based upon their gut feelings. It won’t matter what you say. They are going to do what they want to do — without regard to your input or feelings. Handle the fall-out graciously when that happens. It only takes a couple of negative outcomes for an astute boss to start listening to your recommendations. 

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Do your clients think you are inaccessible?

Ridiculous you say?  Hhhmmm…

  • Does it take several phone calls to get in touch with you? 
  • Does it take longer than 24 to 48 hours to respond to your voice mail messages or emails?
  • Do you normally use the excuses “I’m too busy.” OR “I don’t have the time?”
  • If so, you probably do not know this Law of poor customer service:
    The longer it takes for you to return a call or respond to an email, the more the issue will grow exponentially larger.

 Try this instead:

Treat your phone and email with reverence. Phone messages and email messages from clients and prospective clients are the life blood of your business. Prompt responses are a good opportunity to enhance the value you provide to your clients. It’s also a great way to up-sell and cross-sell any additional products and services that they may need, but do not realize you offer.

All clients are important. Rank ordering clients as to whom you will contact based upon revenues will work only until you lose the BIG client. Then, you’ll need to re-group and try to re-capture smaller clients who found excellent customer service with your competition while you focused on the BIG client.

Keep meetings. Continually canceling, not being prepared, and not taking responsibility for ensuring the client feels valued are good excuses for your clients to seek out other vendors. It’s easier and less expensive to keep good clients, then to go and find new ones.

Blitz them with customer service. We falsely assume, with devastating results, that everyone knows how to be a good representative of the company. Train all employees to be on the same page, and work together for the benefit of the client. Contact me for details … it will save you many clients! JLSeibly@gmail.com

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Bosses! Come down to reality!

Are you a business owner, executive or the boss?  We all need a reality check from time-to-time. Do you believe projects could be completed quicker if only they would do it your way? Do you expect more from others than you do from yourself?  Are you intolerant of others’ mistakes? Yet, harder on yourself?

Here are three easy ways to get real and get results:

Come into alignment.  Get on the same page with your employees regarding the expected results. This is critical for ensuring agreement. Then, have them put together an action plan and review it with you before they start!

Be the coach.  Don’t micro-manage the process. If the process is not moving forward as discussed, or it has hit more than one bump, you may need to step in. Review the thought and action processes. Correct inaccurate assumptions and negative attitudes. Be aware that many people have a hard time addressing the details of a project, particularly if the process is not working the way they envisioned it would.

Manage results.  Have short weekly reviews. What worked? What didn’t?  Be specific and stay away from the why’s. Create a plan to address issues and acknowledge successes. The key is to fine-tune and move forward. Above all, do not let set-backs stop you.

As the boss, your job is two-fold:

  • To manage major blunders and the hiccups that occur along the way.
  • To recognize and reward great progress.

(c)Jeannette Seibly, 2010