Saturday, May 29, 2010

"You've got me? But who's got you?"

One of my favorite scenes from a movie is the image of the "Man of Steel" comic book Superman hero / alias Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) with red cape and tights soaring over Metropolis, especially when he saves Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) as she falls from a helicopter and their conversation,
Superman (politely) :
"Easy, miss. I've got you."
Lois Lane (screaming):
"You've got me? But who's got you?"

In these great United States of America, the entrepreneur spirit is alive and well. Entrepreneurs are the foundation of the American business culture, as they live by a vision in search of their dream.

Along their journey to that dream, most entrepreneurs, feel like they too have been dropped from a helicopter. From increasing unemployment, to the devaluing of the dollar, to escalating business taxes and overall business costs, entrepreneurs need “Superman” to save them.

Unfortunately, that only happens in the movies.

The next best thing for entrepreneurs is to build a team. A team that will be there, a team they can rely on and trust to support them. The keystone for that team starts with a Business Coach.

For more information on building your team and a strong business foundation, drop me a note and I will catch it (pun intended).

Bob Gambone,
I help entrepreneurs tap into their passion, ignite their leadership, to grow their business.
“See the Vision…Capture the Dream!”

Thursday, May 27, 2010

If You Are Looking For a Competitive Edge, Start With Leadership

---True Story About Leadership---

I was anxious and excited.
It was my first day as Store Manager at a new location.
As I entered the store, smile on my face and notebook and pencil in hand, I mentally prepared myself to meet new customers and employees.

Top of mind was the new “Cleaning” initiative that the company was going through, and my approach would be to talk with employees and department heads about the status of the project as I toured the store.
I was very intrigued, as I walked from department to department, to find that everyone was saying the same type of thing. “Denny has us on top of it”, “Oh yes, we make sure we follow the checklist, wouldn’t want to upset Denny”, and “Nice to meet you, and if you see Denny ask him to stop by, we have some questions”.
Of course my confidence level peaked knowing that Denny, probably a co-manager, was on top of things, and really had the store’s team engaged in the new initiative.

When I finally got upstairs where the offices were located, I asked my Human Resources Manager for a list of the store’s department heads and managers.
After reviewing the list, I turned to Debbie (the HR Manager), and said,
“Does Denny go by a different name? I don’t see him on this list”.
She looked at me, quite puzzled, and said,
“Our Denny? ... He’s the Janitor.”

Denny was not a manager or a department head and had never aspired to be one.
Denny, however, was a leader, and was clearly filling a void that was left empty by the management team.

This realization convinced me that leadership is found in the person and not in the position.
Take a hard look at your management team. Are they inspiring their teams to do the job?
Or are they just simply assigning work.
In today’s economy, more than ever, business owners and executives need their managers and department heads to be Leaders.

Here are seven quick tips to help you identify Leaders:

1. Leaders have passionate enthusiasm! Attitudes are contagious and your team “leaders” need to understand that they are role models.

2. Leaders model your company’s values and “walk the talk.”

3. Leaders pull their teams up the hill, face them, and don’t turn their backs.
Old school managers push employees.

4. Leaders are not necessarily the best workers,
and they understand that the “task” is never more important than the customer.

5. Leaders develop others, place a high value on the “we,” and discourage the “I.”

6. Leaders understand when people need to be led and when to let people take the lead.

7. Leaders listen and provide positive reinforcement and constructive criticism.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Planting the Seed

Leaders are full of ideas and innovations that can improve the business performance of their teams.
If you want to kick your leadership up a few notches try “planting the seed” versus just telling your team the new idea / innovation that you have formulated.

In “planting the seed,” you will need to provide “teaser” information, and then coach your team to get to the desired outcome. Along the way, your team members may even improve on your original idea, so be open to suggestions, but stay the course.

You will find that this process will motivate your teams to improve their performance because they now have ownership of the idea / innovation.
Remember the 3 P’s- Plan, Prepare, Practice before you implement “planting the seed.”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Communicating to Our Customers: Drop the Acronyms and Industry Speak!

Did you ever answer a customer's question and receive a very confused
look from them in return?
A few years back a customer asked me why we were out of a particular item.
My answer was, “I know that we “surveyed” that item, but I think it was either “scratched” or on “allocation.”
The customer gave me the same look I gave the young doctor when he told me that my “diastolic” number was fine but he was concerned about my “systolic” number.

The point is we need to communicate to our customers on their terms. Many of us with retail experience use words like “discontinued”, “selector error”, “focus item” “shipper” "drop-ship" ... just to name a few...and acronyms like "OOS" "CSS" "POS" ...what do these mean to our customers? Nothing!

Knowledge of the your business is good, but the ability to successfully communicate and have your customers understand you is excellence!
This presents an unique opportunity to “raise the bar” in customer communications and in conversations with those that may not be related to your specific industry.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We All Need A Reason To Wake Up In the Morning", inspired true story

His name was Vince. I met him one day at the Burger King while eating lunch.

“Excuse me; are you the Store Manager over there?”

I then introduced myself and Vince went on to tell me his story.

“So are you guys hiring?...I need a job. I am a retired executive from US Steel, my wife passed away about two years ago and my kids are spread across the country.
I fly every weekend to visit them, so I can work Monday through Friday.
You know I miss working. A man can only play so much golf, I am really getting bored, …I need a reason to wake up in the morning.”

Vince was a tall man, wearing a wrinkled non-matching jogging suit and sporting a 3-day beard. I felt sorry for him, he really looked like he needed a job and the story he told me, well that really seemed a bit far-fetched, so I hired him.

Vince came on board and worked Monday through Friday 7 to 11am pushing carts and greeting people as they entered the store. He really loved his job; smiling and saying thank you, talking to customers, keeping the place clean, and I felt good because I gave this guy a job.

About 6 months later Cindi, my office manager, came to me, “Bob, the Payroll dept. called and said they need Vince to cash his paychecks.” Well I was really surprised, Vince?...the guy who needed a job so bad, not cashing his paychecks?!
“How many paychecks hasn't he cashed”? I asked Cindi.
Cindi looked right at me and said, “Bob, Vince has not cashed a paycheck since he started 6 months ago!”

At that moment I realized, I did not give Vince a job,he gave me a life lesson.

We All Need a Reason to Wake Up in the Morning, thank you Vince P.