Thursday, May 12, 2011

Are you a Tiger or a Wimp?

Are you a tiger or a wimp?

With today’s economic climate, the companies that will be successful will be the ones that hire tigers, not wimps.

Being a tiger doesn’t mean that you have to be loud, it means that you are full of energy and you are willing to give out the energy needed to help the business overcome the increasing number of obstacles that come up on a day by day basis.

Tigers are optimistic about where they are going and they attract people with that same mind set to look at problems from an abundance perspective, not the scarcity perspective.

Everyone knows that we have high gas prices,that unemployment is almost out of control, the government debt is very high, and that generally there is a sense of despair in our population. Everyone knows that. Do we need employees that come in to remind us of that or do we need people that will sit down, look at the situation and then figure out ways to be successful in spite of the negative factors.

I sat down with a coaching client and I asked him for someone that had been a positive influence in his life, someone that had taught him a lesson he still remembers.

To my surprise he picked someone he had worked for when he was a car salesman.

He won the position as car salesman competing against other candidates by first telling the manager that he had no experience but that he was a born salesman and he knew that he could sell a lot of cars if given the opportunity. He said that to the manager looking him straight in the eye, without flinching, and the manager believed him. He said “you start tomorrow morning”. With that one statement and full of self confidence, he had achieved his first objective which was to get hired.

Next morning the manager greeted him and called a very successful salesperson and said to him, “this is a new salesman, please take him under your wing until he learns the ropes”.

The first thing Joshua did was take the new salesperson to the car lot, which was full of cars and said to him, look around 360 degrees and tell me what you see?

At the moment, the new salesperson, Fabian, thought that he had to come up with a brilliant answer and he actually didn’t have one in mind. So, he just said, “I see a lot of cars”.

Joshua, the trainer, said “no, what you are seeing is the best business in the world. You see a lot of cars, a lot of inventory, and every time you sell one of those, you get paid. You didn’t have to invest in the cars, someone else did, and yet you can sell them and make money. There will be advertising to bring clients in, you will have a decent place to sit with them and negotiate to close the deal. You will have air conditioning and at night you will be able to go home without having to worry about paying the business bills or the payroll. You are sitting on a gold mine”

Joshua was a tiger and he was showing Fabian how to be a tiger. Imagine what would have happened if walking to the car lot, full of cars, Joshua would have said something like this:

What do you see? And when Fabian answered, lots of cars, he would have said, “Yes, exactly, we have excess inventory because the economy is in the tanks, people are not buying cars, it will be very difficult for you to sell cars in this environment and you will have to work your butt off. I don’t even understand why you would work selling cars.”

Do you see the difference between a tiger and a wimp?

Well, Fabian became the number one sales person for that dealership and one of the top salespersons nationally and went on to make lots of money and after a few years, he moved on to open a business of his own.

Right now everyone knows that the economy is not doing well. It doesn’t matter whether you are a pessimist, an optimist or a realist, you simply look at the numbers and you get the whole story.

But, and this is a big but, even though you can’t influence the economy or the negative numbers, you have a choice on how to react to those numbers and what to do about it.

Will you simply shrug your shoulders and resign yourself to a life of scarcity or will you look at the situation and figure out where are the pockets of opportunity.

Look, no matter how negative a situation might look, there is always opportunity. How negative can an earthquake killing 250,000 people be? Very sad, very negative and very unfortunate is the answer. But if you were not killed and you are breathing, you have a chance and you can act and do something about it.

Get into the construction business to build houses, or build a hospital or sell medicines, or, and I say it with total respect, sell caskets. I mention this only to communicate my point that even tragedies offer opportunities for you to help society and make money. There is nothing wrong with making money if you are solving a problem for society.

In 9/11/2001, when the twin towers in NY went down, it united people and the sales of US flags skyrocketed not only in the US but also in Puerto Rico and lots of people made lots of money selling flags and patriotic ornaments.

No matter how tough things are, there are always opportunities to do well, make money and be happy.

So, get your people together and ask each of them:

Are you a tiger or you are a wimp?

Doing More with Less: The New Mantra in Business

Doing more with less: The new mantra in business

We all know that with the increase in gas prices, the budget cuts everywhere and a still weak economy, companies must find a way to do more with less resources.

Every manager now must get the best of his or her employees and to do this, he will need to understand the barriers to employee productivity and find ways to motivate and train those that work for him.

What makes an employee successful? What separates people who feel realized from those that suffer from anguish, dissatisfaction or bitterness?

Well, research says that it isn’t money in the bank, fame, awards or the rank in an organization, as much as those may matter. Many people don’t win the race but even so achieve abundance and they will always be remembered, while many who do finish first will never be associated with greatness and will soon descend into the dark territory of indifference.

It really doesn’t matter much what strengths you have. Being talented is certainly over rated, being street smart is a plus but also not the key, going to Harvard or Yale, being good looking, not having an accent when you speak etc. all this is overrated.

What really matters is what you do with what you have.

When Welby Van Horn, who was the tennis pro at the Caribe Hilton in the 1950’s, was asked who is the professional tennis player he admired the most, he answered Michael Chang. Michael Chang’s claim to fame was winning the French Open at 17, I believe still a record, but the highest he ever got was number 2 in the world and he never ever again won a grand slam title.

Why would Welby mention Michael as the player he admired the most when he got to meet Arthur Ashe, Agassi, Courier, Federer, Sampras, Nadal and others?

He said that he admired Chang, because he did the most with what he had. In other words, Michael Chang used everything he had to get as far as he possibly could.

If you hold nothing back, if you take calculated not reckless chances, you give it all you have got, try to serve your clients well, then you will always stand tall in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of the people that matter to you, mainly your customers and in your own eyes as well.

This is very important: The more a manager can help the people who work for him or her to do the best they can, to use every resource they have, the greater the manager will be and the best results he or she will obtain for the organization.

Put in very simple words, the best managers have the ability to bring out the BEST from their people.

This is true of basketball coaches, CEO’s of large companies, government agency heads and entrepreneurs.

They look for and find the unpolished or polished diamond that resides within every human being.

When people join a company usually they are very motivated and they really look forward to doing a great job. The exception here are employees who need a job and they start working anywhere just to make some money to be able to pay for their living expenses.

Most people find the job they want and are motivated and a few months later, the motivation disappears. Why?

In some cases it is the employee, but in most cases it is the environment, the supervisor, some factor inside the company that sucked that motivation out of them and then they turned into automatons doing a mechanical job, trying to do the less they can and go home as early as possible.

What are some of the barriers to employee productivity?

1. Lack of resources to do a good job. Equipment is broken, software out of date, ancient computers, bad on the job support etc. Your employees can’t be productive if they don’t have the tools to get the job done right. Think about this. If you need to tighten a screw and you don’t have a screwdriver, you will use whatever you can find to do so. You might have to go and look for a dime or a knife or whatever you can find, but that wasted time and effectiveness and probably made the employee upset at the company for not having the right tools available.

2. Decision making only takes place at the top. Personal accountability is not emphasized. The work environment is autocratic and bureaucratic. This is seen very often in government agencies but also, more than it should, in private companies. If employees are discouraged from thinking for themselves, they will never take ownership for their jobs and their effectiveness will diminish considerable.

3. One department against another. We must accept the fact that office politics will never go away; it is the nature of the beast. However, when politics become destructive, people become demoralized, productivity will diminish and there will be more turnover. Gossip, lies, antagonism, jealousy and power plays are lots of fun to see in the movies or in television but they certainly represent potential disasters in a company.

4. Incentives are insufficient and often reward both poor and good performance. Pay attention to this: Believe me because I see it all the time in my client companies. Nothing can be more frustrating and discouraging than seeing someone who barely contributes get the same incentive bonus as all of those who give everything they can to the job and to the company. Reward or incentive plans that do not take into account the exact, measurable contributions of each individual are not only highly ineffective, they are definitely counterproductive.

5. Employees are risk averse and they don’t do the things they must do in order to keep your company competitive and innovative. I am certain that many employees remember very well attending a meeting where the top executives praised and maybe even gave a plaque to the month’s top performer. Very few if any can recall attending a meeting where the top executives praised a daring effort that failed. In a recent survey of 690 employed American workers, Blessing Inc, a US based consulting company, asked employees whether they are often encouraged to take risks. Only 26 percent of employees said they are often encouraged to do so. A surprising 41 percent said they are never asked to do so. Never.

My question to all of you is: How can organizations adapt to constantly changing conditions or to be forward thinkers trying to innovate, if their employees never try anything new?

The mantra is: Do more with less but allow the people in the trenches to do it and do not block their efforts.