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Bill Blades, CMC, CPS
5405 South Abbey
Mesa, Arizona 85212

Telephone: (480) 556-1467

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Every organization has the potential to run for greatness, but many agree to punt.


Greatness, in the most basic element, comes from your commitment to developing your group to be the best at what they do. Some organization in your industry is the best. But, the best can be replaced by you if you are willing to pay the price--an absolute commitment to invest in training and education.


However, let's not look at training as a cost. Training is an investment that pays huge dividends. You may be great at human resources development but there's more. Training and education go on forever.


The problem (opportunity) lies with top management. An overwhelming percentage of corporations view training as a financial burden that will be deducted off the bottom line. Let's just call that type of logic for what it is--stupid. This type of thinking (is it really thinking?) means that what you see in your organization today is what you will get down the road.


Most individuals and corporations drift. They are doing the same things today that they did last year. Sales and margins are okay, but not great. It's not the fault of your group. It's up to the leaders to say "this is not good enough". Now what do you do?


Focus on four primary areas of greatness:




    First, understand that recruiting goes on forever. You want and need the best and the brightest. This means that you must often hire someone when you're not currently needing to do so. Chances are slim that your time of need will match a potential employee's time of need. When a great perspective employee is available, spring into action fast because less then 5% of all employees can be labelled as "great". Get'em while they're hot! Recruit those with a track record because what you see is what you get. You can't train the wrong people. Unless they're coming to you as a youngster, your recruiting efforts should be focused strictly on top producers in any industry, and don't worry about the industry experience. Top producers are quick learners. We're looking for the energizer bunny that is out there somewhere.




    Deciding on whether to hire an individual is part science and part art. By art, I mean intuition. It will be telling you whether to proceed with the hiring or not. If your gut feeling is not an unqualified "yes", don't proceed. Utilize personality profiles and consider having a consultant join you for the interviews. A consultant will also have methods to extract the truth from past employees and clients. I make it a point to visit the spouse, if there is one, to witness the type of positive or negative influence the spouse may exert. I also want to see if their house is neat or messy. Are the kids jumping on the furniture and screaming? Who is in control? As Yogi Berra said, "you can see a lot by observing."


    These are investments that leaders make so that selecting someone is more than luck.


    Remember that resumes are an advertisement with some fluff built in. People are heroes two times in their dreams and in their resumes.




    Come on leaders, wake up! Your sales personnel may have one arm and one leg and do a great job for you, but they need a whole brain that is constantly fed and nourished. This requires a commitment that very few executives make. Most training, if we want to call it that, has been done haphazardly. The best reason I can give you for training and one-on-one education is that every single employee can get 25% better next year. Some by 50% and more. You see, most people do not realize they can be more effective. They're just doing their job by habit and by initial on-the-job training. Leaders, or role models, must step up to the plate and make an investment. You are then entitled to raise expectations of everyone.


     Many leaders send a group of managers to hear Tom Peters rant and rave about America's "uncompetiveness". Some send their sales people to annual events at the local coliseum or civic center to listen to motivational speakers for a day. This is usually just a top-management cop-out. "There, I've taken care of training and they'll all come back motivated. Even if they don't, I've done something worthwhile for them." Really?




    You can't run around trying to motivate people. Your job is to bring self-motivated people on board and then provide the correct motivational environment. The #2 reason for people leaving an employer is for higher pay, but the #1 reason is feeling the current employer doesn't care. They feel confused about where they and their organization are going. They feel underchallenged and unappreciated. The leader must be dedicated to building a culture of greatness or he will support a culture where being satisfactory is good enough. Your people will respond if they are challenged to do better along with the tools to excel.




    Corporations often fail with their betterment programs for several reasons. The biggest failure comes from starting a program and then stopping it. I urge you not to embark on a program if you will not see it through. Secondly, failures come from jumping from one buzzword to another. TQM, MBWA and even I so 9000. Obtaining I so 9000 doesn't mean your mission is completed. All you did was reach a certification allowing you to compete at a higher level. What are you going to do next? And next?


    I worked with a firm that went from flat growth for several years to unprecedented growth in two years. The Vice President of sales thought they had arrived, so he stopped the training/education/motivational programs. Morale went flat and so did sales. The CEO did not want the programs to stop, but he did not want to force the issue with his Vice President. If the Vice President lost his hunger for betterment, who can blame the troops for their low morale and, productivity declines? The Vice President wasn't totally committed and the CEO let him get away with it. Who was the big loser here?



In conclusion, the outcome of your employee improvement programs will not be determined by the monies you invest. Success will come from your support of the program, your commitment to seeing it through and expectation (and insistence) that everyone participate. You may have an employee that was weaned on a pickle--the know it all individual. Don't let him get away with it.


Want a well-oiled machine that grows market share at the expense of average competitors that do not invest in their people? Then simply invest in the oil and dedicate yourself to being above average.


Some do, some don't. It's called proactive leadership. Make a difference to create a huge differential in the marketplace. Being different makes the difference.

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