Monday, September 17, 2012

“Million-dollar” follow-up – Critical Information

In an effort to not add my clutter to your e-mail load, I have made it a habit to write only once a month. However, because of the tremendous response to the million-dollar word article, I felt it important to add the second part of that concept.  I will keep this short.

This facet of listening is essential.

First, the most important persons for you to listen to is your employees. No, it isn’t your patrons. They are important. It is the people who work for you, who day-to-day spend time in your shop. These are the people who see what goes on. They have important insight about procedures, habits, and practices in your organization.

Second, do not give out lengthy questionnaires. No one likes to do them, and they often don’t ask the right questions anyway. Your people do not need something more to do.

Do give them a  questionnaire that asks them four questions:
    1. What do you like about the organization that you would like not to be changed?
    2. What do you like least about this organization and that you would like to see changed?
    3. What do you like about me as a leader that you would like to see me maintain?
    4. What about me as a leader would you like to see changed?
Additional comments:

Do not do as I heard about a company this week, hire an expensive consultant to evaluate your group. Your group already knows what you need. And, a clerical person can compile all of the comments from your people.

If there is some mistrust of leadership, or if you have any thought that some individuals might not give you the honest truth, there are ways of making sure that the information is anonymous, and that they know it. All of this and much more is in the book “The Wrong Bottom Line . . . Still” chapters 8 and 10, but you don’t have to buy the book (although I don’t discourage that idea) You can actually read pages 91 and 92 on Amazon – (just click; I have it already marked--you may have to put "Activity 16" in the "search inside the book").

Promise not to bother you until October. Of course, if I can be of help anytime just email or call (; 208 249-1280).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Million dollar word

A particular company once had a motto: one picture is worth 1000 words. That may be true. But there is one word that if internalized is worth not pictures or words, but thousands of dollars – even millions of dollars. And this word  was taught to me by a 17-year-old boy. You may have heard my story before–I relate it in my book “The Wrong Bottom Line . . . Still,”– but it holds the key to the million dollar word.

A number of years back, one of my sons came home from a high school event. He was upset – very upset. I, the all-knowing father, began to “fix” the problem. In frustration, this young man exclaimed to me “dad, shut up and listen – please just listen!” I was stunned. My children did not talk to me that way. Caught off guard, I stopped talking. At that point my child began to unload a flood.  After he had purged his frustration, he then asked for my input.

The word and the concept I learned at that point was to shut my mouth and open my ears and my mind to learning– to listening.

Too many bosses, too many directors, too many supervisors, too many teachers, too many parents talk too much and listen too little. The foundation for the greatest success is built on openness and willingness to learn. We don’t learn much when our mouths are open. We do when we close our mouths and open our ears–when we listen.

Listen to your patrons. Listen to your associates. Listen to those you supervise. Don’t listen as a courtesy. Listen to learn. In my interview with worker after worker, I find great ideas that no one in the upper bracket wants to listen to. Listening builds teamwork,. Listening improves operations. Listening builds morale and support. Listening saves businesses and increases profits.

Businesses can be saved, operations made more effective and efficient, disputes dissipated, relationships improved, and sales increased, if we but employ the million dollar word: listen.