Tag Archives: employees

The Importance of the YMCA History

One of the biggest assets any business has is the history of your business.  History creates a foundation for being able to support an organization whether it be through purchasing, partnership, support, or loyalty.  Many organizations train new employees using the history of the firm during their orientation process. This provides a foundation and understanding of where the company came from and what they are fighting/working for.  The United States Marine Corps uses its great history to teach it’s recruits during basic training.  Do you think Marines are proud to be Marines and loyal to their “company”?

We are taught our country’s great history in school growing up and most of us develop a loyalty and allegiance to the United States of America.  Why?  Why does that happen?  It happens because we connect to the success stories and people that have made our country great and we develop a loyalty and passion for defending and part of our great nation.  So let’s take that same idea and principle into our companies and get more energy from the employee’s and more brand loyalty from our customers.  The YMCA has one of the most impressive history’s of any organizations or company we have ever herd of…

The YMCA is a non-profit with a vast history.  How many organizations do you know that invented basketball and volleyball.  Pioneered Camping, Public Libraries, Night Schools, and Teaching English as a Second Language?  YMCA introduced the worlds first indoor swimming pool and group swim lessons.

The YMCA’s have provided the proper environment for ideas and organizations to be born:  The Boys Scouts of America, Camp Fire Girls, the Negro National Baseball League, Toastmasters, Hallmark Cards, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, and Father’s Day.

The YMCA has help build our country and have been visited by many U.S. Presidents.  The majority of employees, members and community members probably do not know about all the great things the YMCA has done.   Do you think it is worth it to tell people about the YMCA History?  Marketing the History?…

….We do.  History builds foundation and loyalty.  The organization is a non-profit and many people may need to be reminded about what the YMCA stands for.  The YMCA is more than just a fitness center, BUT do your members and communities know that?

The #1 Problem is Poor Communication

com·mu·ni·ca·tion

com·mu·ni·ca·tion –noun

1. the act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated.

2. the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.

3. something imparted, interchanged, or transmitted.

4. a document or message imparting news, views, information, etc.

5. passage, or an opportunity or means of passage, between places.

6. communications,

a. means of sending messages, orders, etc., including telephone, telegraph, radio, and television.

Bill Gates wrote a book in 1999 called Business at the Speed of Thought.  This book is about living in an “On-Demand” world where everything and anything we want moves closer to happening instantly.  All of this can happen through technology.  But how are we as people looking at and improving how we communicate to keep up with the technology?
The #1 problem we see with business is the lack of communication.  A company with 200 employees has a serious amount of talent and knowledge to achieve great things. But how do you take companies that are 100 or 10,000 employee’s and get them to operate as a team and have the information they need to execute at optimal levels?
First the company needs to look at how information flows up, down and across the chain of command.  Too many times the issue with communication is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to move information from department 1 to department 2.  It takes time to figure out what and how to communicate so that others in the organization know what is going on.  The more knowledge can be spread around the business the more new ideas will be generated.
Second, there needs to be a sole point of communication.  It is already a challenge having access to too much information; why have multiple forms, channels, platforms, etc?  Have one means of communicating.  We use BasecampHQ as our system of communication either with our clients or internally.  It is not an ideal platform for a large company, but can be very effective for small to medium size businesses.  It become a virtual repository for all messages, files, chatrooms, projects, milestones, to-do’s, etc.  The organization or client relationship becomes transparent.
Third, if people in the organization do not know what employees have what responsibilities then how do they know who to drive certain pieces of communication to?  For example:  Someone in operations needs to hold an event for customers and wants to make it large scale.  They take on the role of getting the event ready and working to promote it, meanwhile the marketing director knows nothing about it and could have saved the operations director 6 hours with resources or event marketing processes that were already in place.  If you are going to work for a business that has hundreds of employee’s, then find out who is available to help, support or delegate to.
If you hold communications internally and externally to be equally as important as having a bookkeeper or CFO then you will find that business becomes easier and the employee’s and customer’s happiness goes way up.  A well informed person is a happy one.

How to Be a Better Manager

It is time to make management a positive word. Employee’s love a great manager because it makes their job a more pleasant and inspiring part of their life. It is difficult to be a great manager. It is difficult to be a great manager. That was worth repeating to drive home the point that if you want to be your best you will need to commit to delivering your best.

Easier said then done. We can help with the following tips:
1. Lead by example. Yes you are the boss, but employee’s will not respect you just because you bark orders. Respect must be earned.
2. Commit to following through on your word. This may be as simple as telling an employee you will meet with them at a specific time or as involved as forming a new partnership. People want to do business and be around those that honor their word and deliver.
3. Manage your time. As a manager you will have specific deliverables that lead to the success of your company or how you are measured and there are two helpful hints for making your work load more manageable: 1. Delegate – get staff and others around you-working for you 2. Do not over commit your time – you do not have unlimited time in your day so understand and know your capacity and do not be afraid to say “no I can not take on that task at this time”.
4. Remove emotion from your decision-making. Get statistical performance measures in place to evaluate how your employee’s are doing. Be careful here because it may be your fault as a manager if your employee’s are not doing well with their performance. Coaching may be required and should be exhausted before termination.
5. Have fun. Enjoy what you do and bring a positive attitude. You will be amazed at how others will feed off that.

There is no secret method to being a great manager, but the 5 things mentioned above are very effective. Be create and put your employee’s ahead of yourself and it will pay dividends.

Does your Company have Standards?

What are Standards?  They are a set of agreed on behavior a business employee’s have with each other.  If a business does not have a corporate set of standards how can they be efficient and communicate effectively?  Each person is operating on a different level of understanding which leads to confusion.  Let’s level the playing field!

Having standards in your company will set the Minimum Acceptable Level of Behavior.  If you want to up the performance bar of your company you can implement a set of standards for your business.  Many companies do not have a corporate identity and the employees are in the black.

The bad news is that standards require a significant amount of discipline to be able to introduce and more importantly maintain.  Some types of standards for a business could be:

  • Return emails within 48 hours
  • Return phone calls within 24 hours
  • All staff show up to meetings on-time (what is the agreed upon measure of time?)
  • All problems presented come with suggestions for solutions
  • All projects or milestone are completed on-time
  • No Gossip
  • Do what you say you will do (honor your word)
  • Etc.

The list can be as small or big as you would like.  The discipline required to making implementing standards is up to the ability of the leadership to maintain the standards and lead by example.  Until all staff buy into and UPHOLD EACH OTHER, then you have not made the standards acceptable behavior among each other.

Get Standards!  Our business world needs the bar raised.  Email us if you are interested in talking more about The Octopus Solution Management Model:  info@theoctopussolution.com

Time for some Spring Cleaning – Japanese 5S

Spring is a time for new beginnings so get organized.  Organization is key to production.  The more organized you are the more productive you will be.  One of the most effect ways of being organized, which many leading companies are using, comes from Japan.  

5S is the name of a workplace organization methodology.  The list describes how items are stored and how the new order is maintained. The decision making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardization which builds a clear understanding among employees of how work should be done.

The 5S’s are:

Step 1 – Seiri (Sort)
Sort and go through everything. Keep only the important essential items. Get rid of anything that is broken, not used, or is not needed.  Put everything else in storage.

Step 2 – Seiton (Set in Order)
There should be a specific place for everything. Store items near the place they will be used and are easy accessed. Store items used for the same task together. The place for each item should be clearly labeled. Items should be arranged in a manner that promotes efficient work flow.

Step 3 -Seiso (Shine)
Keep the workplace clean and spotless. Always keep clean the work area and be sure everything is restored to its place. This makes it easy to know what goes where and insures that everything is where it belongs. Maintaining cleanliness should be part of the daily work.

Step 4 – Seiketsu (Standardize)
Develop procedures for maintaining the clean and organized business. Schedule time for cleaning up. Create visual controls such as labels or paint outlines so everyone knows where things belong and can easily see when something is missing. Everyone should know exactly what his or her responsibilities are.

Step 5 – Shitsuke (Sustain)
Sustain the discipline of the first 4 steps.  It takes 60-90 days of constant monitoring before a discipline becomes habit. Always monitor to not fall back to old ways. When an new issue arises such as a suggested improvement, a new way of working, a new tool or a new output requirement, review the first 4 S’s and make changes as appropriate.

It is important to have continuous education about maintaining standards with your employees.  When there are changes that affect the 5S program, it is critical to make changes in the standards and provide training.

Time to Spring Clean the Right Way!!!!

We take it one step further than Harvard

In the september 2009 issue of the Harvard Business Review there is an article on “What Service Customers Really Want” on page 22 and it is a good article.  It explains the the 10 things customers want from their service company and how they should be measured, and they are:

  1. Has Knowledgeable Employees
  2. Addresses my needs on the first contact
  3. Treats me like a valued customer
  4. Demonstrates desire to meet my needs
  5. Can quickly access information
  6. Is good value for the money
  7. Has courteous employees
  8. Is a company/brand I can trust
  9. Treats me fairly
  10. Provides relevant/personalized service

These are the 10 things people most demand from a service company as measurement tools.  Do you see any commonality?  What does every single question have in common?  All ten are facilitated by your Employees!!!!

Are you wondering why you have customer retention issues or revenues are slipping?  Are you looking internally first?  There is a reason the book Good to Great was a best seller because it explained clearly that to have a great company you need to have great employees, as evidenced in the Harvard Business Review too.

To generate repeat business you need employees that you can trust to get your customers excited about coming back and using your service.  Employees, Employees, Employees….they are the only way to make great customer service happen!

What a Leadership Weekend Taught Me!

Spending an entire weekend focused on leadership and being a leader was a huge learning lesson for us.  We always talked about being good leaders, reading books about it and trying to implement, but never got a really good insight for how to improve and what I was doing well and poorly.

Leadership is about achieving your mission and taking care of your people. That is simply said, but difficult to do.  It comes down to how well you can manage.  A team can accomplish much greater missions then an individual, so going at it alone and trying to control the entire business by yourself does not give the best opportunity for success or growth.  The secret is to delegate and inspect.

Delegating means giving your staff very specific assignments to accomplish their objectives which play a part in the success of the grand plan which leads to achieving the mission.  The employee must know what their high level goal/deliverable is and where they fit into the big picture.  Things to consider when delegating a task are:

  • Chain of command
  • Performance measures
  • Desired results
  • Time lines
  • Milestones
  • Purpose of their assignment and project as a whole
  • Benefits to them
  • How you as the manager will interact with them
  • Standards of expected behavior and performance

Delegation should come verbally and in written format so there is no question about what was said, then the inspection process can begin immediately.  The first inspection of your employee comes after you give them their tasks.  You want to make absolute certain they understand what was communicated to them and that you have their agreement to fulfill the task.  This is critical to your success.  If an employee does not fully understand their job up front the results will differ from what is expected and you are not helping them succeed with their career.  Communications can be simple, but interpreted differently by different people.  Inspect to make sure!

The inspection process lasts until the mission is completed.  You want to inspect the following:

  • What is the attitude of your employee and do they need advice or support?
  • What is the context of the project?
  • Is your employee meeting the time-line?
  • Are they controlling too much and did you give them too much?
  • How can you better help them succeed?
  • How are they managing or impacting others?
  • Are milestones being met or do you have to step in?
  • Are problems compounding?  Step in right away before problems get out of control.

The inspection process is a way to help ensure your employee’s are successful.  Managing does not mean doing yourself.  A conductor of a symphony will not grab a violin away from the musician and start playing and conducting!  If the conductor did that he would end up trying to play ever instrument on stage as well as conducting and we all know that is obviously impossible.  So as a manager you must manage and not do!

If you successfully delegate and inspect your people you will fulfill acheiving the mission and taking care of your employees.

Best of success on your road to becoming a great leader.