20 Years of Business Advice & Insights
A Series - Part 1: It's hard to wrap my mind around it... I've witnessed almost 2 generations of business (if you consider a generation appx. 20-25 years), first as young professional and second as a business consultant. I've seen a lot....and I'll be writing about that in this series.
I won't bore you with the specifics of my bio. Of note is that my consulting, coaching and speaking business has presented the opportunity to learn from and help a lot of people in a variety of places in all sorts of roles from different corners of the globe.
With this in mind, as I came upon my company's 20th anniversary, I decided to share the most important observations and insights I've gained that would best serve those interested in the field to which I'm passionately devoted - human resources - not in the "department" sense, but in the truly human sense.
I am utterly fascinated with people at work and what that produces. The intersection of people and commerce captured my attention at an early age and I haven't been bored since.
The scope of social change I've witnessed and its impact on business has been astonishing. I shutter to share this, but in college, I didn't have the internet to rely on for term papers...only research at the library and composition conducted on an IBM Selectric typewriter, hopefully with erasable paper (god forbid I had to use "whiteout").
I've experienced many firsts: the fax machine, the internet, the desktop computer, the cell phone...in a car, atm machines, among many others. Wow! And all of this continually shapes human behavior and how we interact in business. (Recently, I was highly annoyed when my bank bricked off the drive-through and is now forcing me to get out of my car, go inside and (they hope) use a machine vs. a live teller. Remember when the drive-through was all the rage!)
All this to say, "I've been around the block a few times...and I'd like to save current business leaders a few trips, some money and a few headaches along the way." And that is close to the name of my latest executive briefing, I've Been Around the Block a Few Times: I'd Like to Save You a Few Trips and Some Money Along the Way.
The briefing (in conjunction with the previous Show Me The Money!) incorporates a 20-year observation of the employee-human experience in business, the evolution of leadership and management related to that, including the booming industries that have cropped up to support both.
In summary, there have been many improvements and there are still repeated mistakes costing companies millions of which they are not aware....and that's the purpose of the briefing (it's kinda like a white paper on steroids). I zero in on what I have come to see matters most when attempting to build a business -- the human factor.
Here is my overriding, most important advice:
- Learn to see your business through the lens of the human experience and more specifically through the lens of your employees.
- Assess your operations with what you discover – see your human resource in a more literal sense.
- Learn the financial connection between your employee’s experience (performance) at every level, every title, to your business outcomes. (This is such a compelling need and I wrote the executive briefing “Show Me The Money!” to fill this gap).
- See leadership development differently – not as optional, but as a business building imperative.
- Stop promoting people who really don't want to be managers. Development alternate career pathing.
- “Culture eats strategy for lunch,” originally quoted by management guru Peter Drucker and made famous by the president of Ford Motor Company, Mark Fields. After 20 years observing business – this is absolutely the truth! The quality of a company culture directly impacts profits. Culture is the human infrastructure of your company.
- And in that culture, create one of mutual responsibility and accountability. Don’t put it all on the leaders. A tremendous amount of employee problems would literally disappear if leaders created cultures where employees are expected to be grown-ups, taking ownership not only of their work but their behavior and relationships with others. Without this, managers feel like parents rather than being collaborative partners.
Leadership is an essential part of your operational infrastructure.
Most of the work I’ve done over the past years has brought me to this advice and it's what I consider to be the most critical to saving time and money to operating and building a business. Leaders pay devoted attention to a lot of other components of a business and yet....what makes any of those components function is conducted by humans -- everything. There is nothing in a company that is not touched by a human being in some way. This fact is the #1 blindspot for many leaders.
I can honestly promise you that if the advice above was fully achieved, you and those you lead would experience radical, positive, profitable changes and would be a valuable influence on operational decisions and leadership actions going forward.
If you'd like a complimentary e-version of the executive briefing: You can access here (and you don't even have to give me your email address). Just write me later and tell me how you used any of the advice or leveraged the insights and what results you experienced.
Here is Part 2.