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? (  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

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

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

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. 

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!

©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

Break ‘Through’ Performance

  • Do you make changes due to boredom?
  • Out-talk others to get your own way?
  • Focus solely on the facts or your feelings to make decisions? 

Many will say, “Of course, everybody does.” These are the normal methods to handle people, systems and issues.  But the same old habits limit your job satisfaction and your ability to achieve outstanding business results.

The world of work is changing.  It requires a new level of performance to recognize new opportunities that meet the needs and business goals of your customers. 

Recognize old habits. They have become your blind spots and are getting in your way.  When you move out of your comfort zone and take the appropriate action(s), new habits will be formed.  Work with a coach to customize solutions that work for you!

Take focused action now.  Busy work is simply your excuse to avoid doing what you know you need to do to achieve the results you say you want.  Work your plan.  Include others and their ideas. Handle the details and make those hard decisions.  Want results? Take focused action.  Now.

Hire a coach.  Many business professionals want to be top performers and enjoy peak performance.  Yet, they hit a wall and slug it out alone. A coach helps you recognize blind spots and stop recycling the same old information in a mental monologue. These insights, when put into action, make you easier to work with, keep you in focused action and have you elicit the best in others.

Break through performance requires out-of-the-box thinking via the synergy of you and your coach.  Recommit to your own success.  Hire a coach and enjoy your new results.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Does perfectionism get in the way of results?

Perfectionism is a relative term depending upon your viewpoint. Innovative types don’t like to follow the rules. They view others as perfectionists when they ask too many questions or are unable to see the potential success of the venture in the same way they see it. Conversely, the “dot every I and cross every T” type of person looks at others as being irresponsible and unable to plan appropriately — not perfect enough in their thought processes. They simply squash any ideas that don’t match their stringent point of view.

We are all perfectionists at some level! We love to make things harder than they are. We wait for the perfect time in our lives when the economy is good, life circumstances are stable. We wait to be working for the right company, with the right boss and co-workers. In the meantime, we postpone fulfilling our goals and dreams. People stop listening to our ideas. We are upset when others “take our ideas” and are successful!

Attitude The “perfect time” is an attitude. Fulfillment of any business venture or project requires that we focus and follow through. Declare goals. Write-down specific action steps. There is no perfect plan that will prevent inevitable challenges.  Many of us love to make systems harder than they are.  We, make working with others more difficult than it needs to be.  Hiring a coach will provide invaluable simple and strategic insights.

Integrity and ethical behaviors required.  Breakdowns are to be expected, regardless of the “perfect” plan design.  Short-cuts will normally get you in trouble in the long run. Ignoring key issues now may hurt your future reputation, financial solvency, and the ability to attract and retain top performers.  Instead of relying upon your own internal monologue of what is right or wrong, talk through challenges with your business mentor.  Use the opportunity to clarify your perspective and the required action needed to avoid further pitfalls.

Learn when to quickly move forward, and when to strategically wait.  Many people self-sabotage when the results don’t fit their “perfect” view of how they should look. Instead of dealing with the facts, they play spider-solitaire or spend a lot of time surfing the Internet. They blame their lack of focused action upon not having enough: information, time, money, or opportunities. Honor your plan, even if it seems like you’re taking baby-steps. You’ll get there!

Enjoy your achievements and the accomplishments of others, now.  Too often we excuse the importance of acknowledgement due to our ambivalent feelings about being in the spot-light, even for a moment. Appreciate others’ successes and accept their congratulatory wishes. Building upon success keeps you moving forward, and encourages the right people to work with you.

 ©Jeannette Seibly, 2010