|April 1, 2013
from the desk of Chuck Violand...
Good Monday morning, <<First Name>>—
“Checking out” is something that can happen to even the most engaged and disciplined business owner. Sometimes we check out temporarily only to reengage at a later time. Either way it can throw our companies into a stall.
Today I offer suggestions on how to avoid it.
Overcoming Stage II Stall™, Part VI
Cause 2—Checking Out—Solutions
by Chuck Violand...
Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler Corporation, accomplished what many consider to be one of the greatest turnarounds in business history when he led Chrysler back from the brink of bankruptcy in 1979.
As with many companies, when Chrysler was looking over their own fiscal cliff at impending disaster, it was easy for them to stay focused on what needed to be done (see Cause #1: We lose our focus.) That is, until they started to experience success. That’s when the chairman went Hollywood and checked out. We saw Iacocca grace the cover of Time Magazine not once but twice, pitch margarine, and even be considered a candidate for president of the United States. You may remember it didn’t take long before we were once again reading about Chrysler’s financial woes, which led Dr. Dieter Zetsche, one of Iacocca’s successors, to later remark, “Every time we get successful we get stupid.”
When we check out of our companies mentally or physically (or both) we weaken our decision-making mechanisms and our willingness to confront the tough issues that present themselves every day in our businesses. While we may assign responsibilities to others within our companies to perform certain tasks and to deliver results, when push comes to shove it’s easy for us to back away from making the tough calls that need to be made when our expectations aren’t met. Instead we’re tempted, and oftentimes accept, mediocre performance because the alternatives are more undesirable than the lack of performance—we’d have to reengage with our companies.
Just as important, when the owner of a small business checks out physically the visionary who provided inspiration and direction is no longer around to provide guidance. This is one of the reasons so many companies suffer when the owner unexpectedly dies or is taken away for unforeseen reasons. People look to leadership for direction.
Leadership expert Max De Pree, former chairman of Herman Miller, addressed this point when he wrote, “Leaders are obligated to provide and maintain momentum. Momentum in a vital company is palpable. It is not abstract or mysterious. It is the feeling among a group of people that their lives and work are intertwined and moving toward a recognizable and legitimate goal. It begins with competent leadership and a management team strongly dedicated to aggressive managerial development and opportunities. This team’s job is to provide an environment that allows momentum to gather.”
Does all this mean that in order for our businesses to avoid Stall the CEO has to show up every day and lord his presence over his people? Absolutely not! There’s a world of difference between being present and checking out. The effects of checking out are felt much sooner when the CEO checks out mentally than when he checks out physically. In a large organization or one with multiple locations there’s no way the CEO can be physically present everywhere every day. But there’s no question that he can be present mentally without being present physically and that his influence is felt when he’s mentally engaged in the company. While there are never any guarantees in business, it is this mental engagement that helps to inoculate a company against Stage II Stall™.
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In speaking with the general manager of a reputable restoration company last week, he mentioned that for the last five years he has made it a priority for his employees to achieve and maintain multiple technical certifications and training. I’m sure we can all agree that is important. Then he said something we all know is true, but rarely admit. Until now he has lacked the focus to invest in his own personal development and is worried he has left the door open for his company and responsibilities to outgrow him.
While improving the skill sets of your employees is a vital and never ending process, if you fail to consider your own needs in leadership and management development, your employees and your own company will stall without proper guidance.
Companies don’t grow people. People grow people and people grow companies.
This web-based, advanced level professional training program is the most complete and thorough environment for owners and upper level managers of restoration and cleaning companies to gain the necessary skills needed to overcome everyday occurrences like company stall, hiring issues, dealing with conflict, communication discrepancies, time management problems, and loss of vision.
The next class is currently forming. Call 800.360.3513 to speak to Jeff, who will answer any questions you may have. Your issues are not going to go away until you invest in solutions. Ignoring a potential problem isn’t a strategy. It’s a coping mechanism.