You want to be the best – but will you do the work?

June 16, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

When you say that your company is “the best,” it means that it has little or no tolerance for anything that’s done below standard. Simply put, any activity or work that falls below standard that is not quickly addressed and resolved is compromise. And compromise of any sort has costs attached to it. True, even the best-of-the-best skip a beat every now and then, but their ability to consistently execute at superb levels in all business disciplines keeps them part of the elite few.
So, if your vision is to be the best, are you prepared to do whatever it takes to be the best? I ask this question because “the best” is the recipient of more lip service than it is of measurable action guided by no-compromise leadership. For example, while your touting how great your business is, are there customers not receiving the experience promised? Are there employees that regard rules as something for everyone else and not them? Are there employees that work harder at killing time than producing results? If any of these questions make you squirm, then a gap exists between your current reality and your vision of being the best. The next question is, what are you going to do about it?
Here are three red-hot strategies to be the best:
1. Lock in the right systems and procedures: Tiger Woods has one heck of a golf swing. He wasn’t born with it. He was coached. He practices relentlessly to perfect it. When it stops working, he goes though the complex and exasperating process of reinventing a better swing. Getting better is not an option – it’s the only option. Settling for status quo is a compromise.
2. Everyone learns, masters and plays: Double standards, playing favorites, or invoking the “grandfathered in clause” is pure compromise. It can wreck a business culture faster than you can say, “Accountability will get a lot of people upset.” It is the leader’s job to hold employees accountable to do the work they are hired to do. To be the best, everyone shows up and plays to win. Anything less is compromise.
3. Hold yourself accountable: If you reported to a no-compromise leader, would you be playing the business game with more intensity? Would you be getting more done and producing better results as a leader? Would you stop avoiding the tough conversations or decisions? If you were being held accountable by a higher up, chances are you’d be saying, “yes,” to these questions. So, hold yourself accountable. If you don’t, you compromise.
I believe there is growth and opportunity beyond your wildest dreams just waiting for you and your company. All that stands between achieving those wildest dreams are the three strategies I just presented to you. That’s all, just three disciplines to master and being the best will become a reality and bring with it all the just rewards that come with outstanding success.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

When you say that your company is “the best,” it means that it has little or no tolerance for anything that’s done below standard. Simply put, any activity or work that falls below standard that is not quickly addressed and resolved is compromise. And compromise of any sort has costs attached to it. True, even the best-of-the-best skip a beat every now and then, but their ability to consistently execute at superb levels in all business disciplines keeps them part of the elite few.... Read More

When you say that your company is “the best,” it means that it has little or no tolerance for anything that’s done below standard. Simply put, any activity or work that falls below standard that is not quickly addressed and resolved is compromise. And compromise of any sort has costs attached to it. True, even the best-of-the-best skip a beat every now and then, but their ability to consistently execute…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Tuff Stuff: Leave nothing unsaid

June 9, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

You’re getting ready to do a performance evaluation with a key employee. There have been behavior and performance issues that have surfaced a while back that you had hoped were temporary and would just fade away. But, as they often do, the issues continued and now they are beginning to impact other members of your team. You know this employee is highly sensitive to constructive feedback and the process often produces all kinds of drama, emotions and funk. Because of this, getting into the tough stuff with this employee always produces a knot in your stomach.
So, the evaluation begins. You navigate through the process until you reach that point where all that remains is the tough stuff. You feel like you’ve cornered a wild beast and you’re just trying to find the best moment and angle to capture it without getting mauled. And then it happens – you ask the employee if she has any questions and you end the evaluation. You hesitated. You left essential things unsaid. You wimped out. You compromised.
This scenario gets played out in business every day. You see behavior and performance issues and for some reason, you just fail to engage. Interestingly, it only occurs with certain individuals when your pre-conceived mental picture of the process and the immediate fallout cranks up your anxiety levels high enough to hit the compromise button. To make matters worse, you beat yourself up for missing the opportunity to address a growing problem that will only continue to escalate.
Here are some red-hot strategies to ensure that you leave nothing unsaid:
* Just get it over with: When it comes to confronting reality and dealing with the tough stuff, if you hesitate you lose. That’s it. Address it and move on. Lingering issues do more damage to the performance of the business. More importantly, allowing issues to linger means you’re allowing contamination to infect your culture.
* Focus on the desired outcome: It’s easy to get stuck in the emotions and stress of addressing highly sensitive and seemingly explosive issues. Help yourself and the employee by focusing attention on the desired outcome. Doing so gives purpose to the process and that addressing the tough stuff today will create a better tomorrow.
* How bad did it get before you engaged? Here’s the real kicker. If you’ve observed and even acknowledged that a behavior and performance problem exists and did nothing, you compromised your leadership role. Had you engaged when the problem surfaced, the probability of it going critical is greatly minimized.
* What’s the worse that could happen? OK, the employee may get so upset that he or she quits. Is that a bad thing? Typically when behaviors and performance head south, the ripple effect can degrade performance and create distractions throughout a department or even the entire company. If your respectful efforts to help an employee grow and prosper are met with a resignation, consider it a favor. Accept the resignation and open the windows to allow fresh air in.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a no-compromise leader is the ability to engage in open and constructive dialog with employees on behavior and performance issues – and to do so when the issues surface. Hesitate today and you’ll just have a bigger problem tomorrow.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

You’re getting ready to do a performance evaluation with a key employee. There have been behavior and performance issues that have surfaced a while back that you had hoped were temporary and would just fade away. But, as they often do, the issues continued and now they are beginning to impact other members of your team. You know this employee is highly sensitive to constructive feedback and the process often produces all kinds of drama, emotions and funk. Because of this, getting into the tough stuff with this employee always produces a knot in your stomach.... Read More

You’re getting ready to do a performance evaluation with a key employee. There have been behavior and performance issues that have surfaced a while back that you had hoped were temporary and would just fade away. But, as they often do, the issues continued and now they are beginning to impact other members of your team. You know this employee is highly sensitive to constructive feedback and the process often…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

URGENT: Mount your own economic offensive

June 2, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Yes, the economy has become a seriously hot topic. And all the suggestions on how to survive the recession we’re in are not only valid, they are must do’s. But as gas prices soar over $4.00 a gallon, home values drop, foreclosures rise, and our sitting president and the presidential candidates squabble over what should be done while they do nothing – this economic thrill ride we’re on becomes even more hair raising. Add in reports of flat Mother’s Day Gift Card sales and last week’s Katie Couric story on the CBS Evening News on a nail tech who’s drop off in business has her bringing her lunch to work – it’s time for a shift of thinking.
To counteract the natural tendency of business owners and consumers to hunker down until the recovery that analysts predict will come in 12 to 18 months, mount your own economic offensive. If you believe in the law of attraction, continuing to “think” recession will only bring more recession. Why not think “recovery,” get proactive and bring a return of the good times that much sooner? Simply put, smart business players will seize the moment while the competition waits for the storm to pass. And getting aggressive in your strategies and tactics today will help you emerge from the recession fit and strong while others survey the damage and regroup.
Here are some red-hot strategies to mount your own economic offensive:
* Business as usual is as bad as hunkering down: How many gas crises does it take for the big automakers to learn a lesson? Now they’re stuck with massive inventories of gas-guzzling hulks when they should have been leading the charge to hybrids and electric. If you think clients will just keep coming and spending because you’re great – it’s time to sound the call to battle stations. There’s no difference between gas-guzzling hulks and an appointment book full of white space.
* There’s another 20% – if you go for it: I’ve been preaching this thinking for years. There’s always more business to be had when the leader shifts to no-compromise thinking and behavior. But that means rallying and energizing the troops with a bold vision backed by clearly defined expectations. Want to add another 20% to revenues? Then jettison the “they won’t buy in” thinking and get unstuck. Employees want to be led and they want to perform. It’s time for that no-compromise leader in you to emerge and make things happen.
* Create 90-day mini-games: Mounting an offensive means taking action that you can track and measure right now. Build two or three mini-games for June, July and August. Focus on record-breaking pre-booking, up-selling, retail sales, productivity rate, most package sales or highest salon or spa sales. Build your scoreboards, super-charge your daily huddles, make accountability the rule – and watch the recession as it passes by.
So is it hunker down or go on the offensive to vanquish recession thinking from your business? As the leader, it’s a choice that you and you alone must make. Decide and everything else is all about taking action and accountability. And don’t forget to celebrate and have fun. You and your team will deserve it.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

Yes, the economy has become a seriously hot topic. And all the suggestions on how to survive the recession we’re in are not only valid, they are must do’s. But as gas prices soar over $4.00 a gallon, home values drop, foreclosures rise, and our sitting president and the presidential candidates squabble over what should be done while they do nothing – this economic thrill ride we’re on becomes even more hair raising. Add in reports of flat Mother’s Day Gift Card sales and last week’s Katie Couric story on the CBS Evening News on a nail tech who’s drop off in business has her bringing her lunch to work – it’s time for a shift of thinking.... Read More

Yes, the economy has become a seriously hot topic. And all the suggestions on how to survive the recession we’re in are not only valid, they are must do’s. But as gas prices soar over $4.00 a gallon, home values drop, foreclosures rise, and our sitting president and the presidential candidates squabble over what should be done while they do nothing – this economic thrill ride we’re on becomes even…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

What’s your exit strategy?

May 26, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Lately, it seems that the two questions I’m being asked most are: How do I figure out what my business is worth, and can you help me create an exit strategy? Clearly the frequency to which I’m receiving such questions has a lot to do with baby-boomer business owners confronting the reality of what to do at this stage of their careers. Yes, that day will come when you too must decide on an exit strategy from your business.
So I figured that on this Memorial Day, while enjoying that family barbeque and those cold beers, I’d give you something to ponder. All entrepreneurs eventually must separate from their businesses and move on to a new phase of life. This doesn’t mean you have to stop working and retire. You may have other interests to pursue that will tap your years of experience. Heck, there’s nothing wrong with just kicking back enjoying life after years of hard work.
But here’s the rub. “Cashing out” and walking away from your business with a big smile on your face isn’t going to just happen. I’ve been in this industry many years and I’ve only seen a handful of fortunate and prepared owners cash out and have that big smile. They had an exit strategy or ran their businesses aggressively and diligently to build value.
Here are some red-hot thoughts on exit strategies to ponder this Memorial Day:
* It’s never too early or too late to plan: Where do you want your business to be in five or ten years? What do you want it to look like? How much in revenues and profit? Planning means setting a future goal and creating the necessary steps to achieve it. If you don’t like to plan – don’t expect a windfall when it’s time to sell.
* Financial reports tell a story: Today, right now, what kind of story do your financial reports tell? “Action adventure” where the hero gets the girl and the gold? “Drama” where it’s life and death all the way. “Horror” where there’s lots of scary stuff, guys with hockey masks and chainsaws? Make sure your financial reports tell the story you want today and they’ll reward you tomorrow.
* Is it a business or you? This one is simple. If your business can function profitably without you generating revenue with your own two hands, you’re on the right path. If not, it’s time to rethink the design of your business and your role in it.
* Is there a natural successor? If you have a son or daughter in the business, are you grooming them to take over or will it require the jaws-of-life to pull control away from you? Is there a key employee worthy, capable and with the resources to acquire the business?
Your business most likely represents your life’s work. Given this, it deserves to know what will happen to it when you decide to move on to the next phase of your life. Drafting a simple initial exist plan based on the previous points is a good starting point. From there, it can be refined into something more detailed and concrete. Consider working with a coach to construct your exit plan.
And as you sip that cold beer on this fine Memorial Day, remember that constructing an exist plan today can give you many fine days of barbeques and beer-sipping after you sell your business.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO
Lately, it seems that the two questions I’m being asked most are: How do I figure out what my business is worth, and can you help me create an exit strategy? Clearly the frequency to which I’m receiving such questions has a lot to do with baby-boomer business owners confronting the reality of what to do at this stage of their careers. Yes, that day will come when you too must decide on an exit strategy from your business.
So I figured that on this Memorial Day, while enjoying that family barbeque and those cold beers, I’d give you something to ponder. All entrepreneurs eventually must separate from their businesses and move on to a new phase of life. This doesn’t mean you have to stop working and retire. You may have other interests to pursue that will tap your years of experience. Heck, there’s nothing wrong with just kicking back enjoying life after years of hard work.
But here’s the rub. “Cashing out” and walking away from your business with a big smile on your face isn’t going to just happen. I’ve been in this industry many years and I’ve only seen a handful of fortunate and prepared owners cash out and have that big smile. They had an exit strategy or ran their businesses aggressively and diligently to build value. (more…)
Lately, it seems that the two questions I’m being asked most are: How do I figure out what my business is worth, and can you help me create an exit strategy? Clearly the frequency to which I’m receiving such questions has a lot to do with baby-boomer business owners confronting the reality of what to do at this stage of their careers. Yes, that day will come when you too…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

When personal relationships compromise leadership thinking

May 19, 2008 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

It happens to all leaders. You are or have become friends with an employee. (Or, to make matters more sensitive, the employee may be a relative.) Performance and/or behavior issues are becoming obvious to the rest of the team and they’re looking to you for a solution. Of course you’ve seen the issues for quite some time and you’ve had several “light” conversations with the employee hoping things would get better. Well it hasn’t – and your continued reluctance to have that crucial conversation is talking its toll on the team and your credibility as a leader.
When leaders allow personal relationships to cloud and distort their thinking, compromise is always the outcome. I’m not suggesting that you discard your sense of compassion and respect for your employees. Not in the least. What I am emphatically suggesting is that, as leader of your company, your prime objective is to serve and protect the integrity of the business, its team and its customers. The no-compromise leader must never see and acknowledge a problem and fail to act. Not to pounce on problems, but to identify and seek solutions through coaching. Given this, allowing a personal relationship to get in the way signals to each and every employee that you support and protect a double-standard culture – one for friends and relatives and another for all other employees. Talk about contaminating a business culture from the top down!
Here are some red-hot strategies to keep personal relationships in business in check:
* When hiring a friend or relative, establish clear expectations and guidelines that all employees are held to the same standards of performance. No exceptions. No special treatment. No compromise.
* For friends or relatives already employed, it’s time for a crucial conversation that establishes where personal relationships end and business relationships and accountability begins. Get it all out for discussion. Your goal is to have extreme clarity on how your relationships will not interfere in your ability to lead the company.
* Have friends or relatives report to another leader. Do not interfere. Do not override that leader’s decisions. All parties will be better served though this separation.
* If it’s already gotten out of hand, it’s time to fix what your compromising created. Remember, all eyes are upon you. Your leadership credibility is on the line. Acknowledge that you allowed a double standard to evolve and that it has created issues and resentment with the rest of the team. Clearly identify what needs to change. Ask if there are questions and agreement on moving forward.
* The toughest fix to do is when the friend or relative is in a decision-making position that he or she is clearly not qualified for. To allow this to continue is clearly a serious compromise. In addition to the host of issues that occur when an employee is in over his or her head, it’s setting the employee up for failure. Either find another position more suited to the employee’s skill set or end it. You’ll be doing all parties a great service.
Leadership is tough work and, on occasion, you will find yourself in the midst of a disconcerting dilemma purely of your own making. Recognize it. Fix it. For the no-compromise leader there is no other alternative.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

It happens to all leaders. You are or have become friends with an employee. (Or, to make matters more sensitive, the employee may be a relative.) Performance and/or behavior issues are becoming obvious to the rest of the team and they’re looking to you for a solution. Of course you’ve seen the issues for quite some time and you’ve had several “light” conversations with the employee hoping things would get better. Well it hasn’t – and your continued reluctance to have that crucial conversation is talking its toll on the team and your credibility as a leader.... Read More

It happens to all leaders. You are or have become friends with an employee. (Or, to make matters more sensitive, the employee may be a relative.) Performance and/or behavior issues are becoming obvious to the rest of the team and they’re looking to you for a solution. Of course you’ve seen the issues for quite some time and you’ve had several “light” conversations with the employee hoping things would get…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

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