Manage Well : Go On Through

To go through a problem is to conquer it and create new paths. Go through. Don’t go around it.

Ps:95:8: Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: .

 A winner goes through a problem.

training

  A loser tries to go around a problem.

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

Problems are life. Sound like the last chapter?  You are right.  It is not the same though.  What makes a winner a conqueror, an overcomer, is the problems they face and conquer.  You will have problems.  1Pt:4:12:” Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:”

The question is will you go through or around?

Going around.  The children of Israel spent 40 years going around their problems.  When they were offered the land of opportunity, they chose to stay away and not deal with their problems.  What was their problem?  Discord, lack of submission to leadership, unbelief, selfishness… basically just a lot of reliance on themselves and little on God.

Going through.  After that 40 year phase, a new set of children rose up and went through their problems.  They stuck together, defended each other, and took the blessings by going through their problems.

Going around.  The United States is full of men and women going around their problems.  Insecurity, lack of knowledge on how to be a dad/mom/husband/wife, lack of commitment, irresponsibility, self fulfillment keeps them from sticking with their families and spouses and friends.  It’s easier to go around.

Going through.  My heroes are the ones who overcome their insecurities, lack of knowledge, lack of commitment, irresponsibility, and self fulfillment, replace it with security in Jesus, knowledge from the Word, commitment to what counts, responsibility even when it hurts, and other fulfillment, and stick with the program.  It is not easy.  It is incredibly rewarding.

Hebrews 4:14: Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.15: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.16: Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Principle is principle is principle.  Relationships, work issues, projects, and hobbies all present problems.  When you allow others to help in the process, you prosper quicker.  Sometimes they have the solution you need.  Always, Jesus has the solution you need.

Take Inventory

Where do you have a problem that you have circumvented but not solved?

Are you ready to do what it takes to solve it?

Have you ever felt like getting mad at God because of a problem?  Did you go around the problem or through it?

Overcoming.  As I write this I am praying for five relationships where someone has come to me in the last week and asked for prayer.  They are GOING THROUGH!.  Anger, alcohol, and accusations make for hard lives. You can GO THROUGH.  You can overcome.  It takes both involved in the relationship, but it can be done.  Who are you praying for?

 Make Application

Write what you are going to specifically do in the next 30 days about this.

Common Grounds: Training Tenacity

training
courtesy robbharper.com

Exerting your vision through your people and customers requires training. You need to train team. You need to train prospects and customers. You need to train yourself. You need to train your board. You must perform with consistency, congruency, and tenacity.  They may resist.  Do it anyway.

Train Your Team

Customer Service: A relaxed customer service is failure in the making. Many inside service team unravel at this point. Every team member must understand the vision of the service group. They must breathe it and live it. It should affect every point of decision.Plus Training

The press tech, the manager, the finishing tech, the shipping clerk, and the prepress tech must breathe customer service. This means constant training on phone skills, face-face consistency, issue handling, and prioritization to customer need. How often do decisions get made based on equipment and supplies versus customer demand? Change it. Attend to it always.

Customer Knowledge: Team need to know who they serve. Communicate personal information about the key customers. Did someone recently have a baby? Take a once in a life time trip? Accomplish a certification? Why do you restrict this knowledge to the sales and customer service teams? When your team members know the customers they serve in simple ways, they take what they do more personal and increase excellence.

Team Technical: All falls apart if the machines are not running. Machines run with good files, good process, and good people. Good people are trained. They are retrained. They are over trained.

Train Your Customer

 “Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

 Mission Criticals: Customers must be trained. Men and women around the world follow leadership into life ending battles. They grasp a purpose, attach to leadership, and thrust themselves into the oncoming firestorm. Your customers have a mission purpose. When you show them how their mission purpose connects with your service, you gain customers for life. They want to have loyal and mission attached service and will fight through budgets, purchasing departments, discretionary funds, and idiosyncrasies of their organization to work with you. Connect them. Educate them.

Linked Process: Customer process must be engaged. Discover their process and adapt yours to work with theirs. Educate them on your journey and your excellence. Take time to make them more knowledgeable on your ordering and delivering process than you are. They don’t care how you print it. They care how you interact with them at beginning and end of process. The better they understand, the easier their life becomes and the more they turn to you for service with a smile.

Train Yourself

Be the expert in your industry. Know substrates and capabilities and twenty uses for every machine.

Be the expert in your people. Learn something new every day about a team member. Surprise yourself.

Be the expert in your customers. Study their needs and demands. Know what they need before they know what they need.

Be the expert in your customers industry. Read industry articles and journals your customers read. Get outside your pocket of knowledge.

Be the expert in the mundane. Maybe the numbers don’t excite you. Maybe organization process is boring. Master the mundane. Take a college course. Go interview an executive or manager in another area of the organization and learn what they know.

Train The Board

There are executive stakeholders surrounding every decision you make. Official or unofficial, you have a stakeholder board. They may meet in a room or in the hallway. Get them trained. Keep them updated with quick, pithy mission points of accomplishment and plans. Let them be involved in your decision thinking. You may not have an official board of advisors, but you better have a list for your own reference.

Summary: This is quick and high level. Every organization must train these four and train them well. Skip one and risk failure. Tend to all and move forward.  Overcome your inertia.  Move on it.

ROI - ROECOMMON GROUNDS: These tidbits come out of daily consternations, comments, and concerns of real managers doing what needs done. Executives gain insight.

 This article focuses on the Be Responsible side of the triad and Communications level of the operational pyramid.

Let’s talk: Phil Larson or Shepherd Consulting OK

Presence Communicates Production Priority

Managers and leaders communicate priority by where they spend their time. Production teams make America happen. A walk through a production press room tells the workers they are important and what they do is important. Stopping by the front desk in the morning and looking the receptionist in the eye followed by a specific word of appreciation tells the company that guests are important. Openly discussing decisions and gaining feedback from the team along the way gives them a stake. Presence communicates production priority.

30 years of overseeing production teams 24/7 leaves me with a little insight on helping a shift through their day. Every shift is a day in itself. Each one needs right attention and priority.

Every meeting you attend, every walk down the hallway, every lunch in public communicates your deepest heart. You are being watched. An encouraging word, a kind action, opening a door for someone else, or a playful interchange all communicate compassion and priority.

An ancient proverb tells us to not muzzle the oxen as they tread grain. One visual picture we draw is of an ox pulling along in a field being harvested. He needs to munch a little every once in a while. He needs to gain benefit while working, not just at the end of the season. Your presence and encouragement is one of the daily benefits you can give with little cost and great results. Corporate parties, big meetings and bonuses help. They can never replace personal attention and involvement. Presence communicates production priority every day and communicates concern for the people.

Early In The Day Sets A Tone
A manager starts the day for work teams. A little whistle up the hallway in the morning tells the team it is a bright day. P lesant greetings communicate positive expectation and confidence. It is not just physical presence but emotional engagement that builds a productive team of individuals bound by mission.

Middle Of The Day Stimulates
By mid day in a production crew, sales team, customer service group, or any other set of individuals bound by mission, there have been problems. Opportunity to turn dour has come many times by noon. This is one perfect moment to inspire and prioritized. Where you spend the last minutes before lunch tells the team where to focus.

A purposeful and thoughtful communication to key team members on priority projects can keep problems from dominating. Customer service needs to keep moving while issues are resolved. Down equipment needs attended. Production schedules may need adjusted considering current availability. Sales teams may need a pep talk to overcome any weight of complaints.

End Of The Day Rules Over Tides
By the end of a good day, there have been powerful moments and struggling moments. Tides have pressed against the team attempting to bring them to defeat. They need presence. They need reinforcement that the customer is king and the team is in your heart. You need to let them know you are one their side. Before you go home, visit the oncoming team and give them the same whistling start you gave the first team.

Summary: Presence communicates production priority. Production is the ox of your company. Sales must happen. Production must run seamless. An ancient proverb tells us to not muzzle the ox as he treads the grain. Consider your time and attention and presence as unmuzzling the oxen. Invest in your people. They are the strength of the company.

Be Busy Building Better Business.  Have a Great Day!

Phil

================================

Make a definitive difference in the community!

I need your help. I need you to join me for lunch.  (It is okay if you want to just give to the work also if you can’t come.)

Register now. http://www.championfatherstourney.org

On Sept 16th at 11:45am join Carey Casey, CEO of the National Center for Fathering, Hon. James Lankford, U.S. House of Representatives, Chuck Bowman, Larry Campbell, Imagenet+ Consulting, R.K. Black, Kimray, Tom Hill, keyevado, Shepherd Consulting, Willow Creek Golf and Country Club and others.

  • Understand the immense fatherless crisis impacting our nation, state, and your neighborhood.
  • Get insight on positive action you can take to change the statistics.

Your registration goes directly to works in progress at Tulakes Elementary in North OKC, Epperly Heights Elementary in Del City, East OKC, West OKC, Dad’s University, and Matamoros families. Through the support of a friend, lunch expenses are covered. That means your registration goes directly to the work.

You can join for golf afterwards, if you would like. But, I need you to join me for lunch.

You can sponsor more, but, I need you to join me for lunch.

Register Now: http://www.championfatherstourney.org/

Exceptions Are Not Rules: 3 Safe Guards

The life of a manager would not be complete without that wonderful day where she finds herself stumped as to why a staff member acted in a certain manner inconsistent with policy.  After several months of training a colleague, you find them going a different direction than guided.  It is inevitable.  It will happen.

The next surprise is when they tell you it was  your idea.  What?  My idea?  What incredible bump do you have on your head that caused such a thought?  Have you lost your mind?  Where did you get that idea?

Then you remember.  You remember the question you answered last week in the middle of a major emergency.  A customer needed an exception to your normal policy for a critical project.  You authorized the team to process the job in a different manner.  It was an exception needed and specific to that day and that job and that customer.  Now, it is a rule.  Now, it is embedded in the minds of staff as the way to cut a job short.

Of course, if you take this exception route on a routine basis you will lose all your profits, mix up customer work orders, and generally destroy the business.  One time on a special project is okay with manager discretion.  Any time on normal jobs with a staff discretion is chaos.

Every manager must understand exceptions, communicate them clearly, and contain expanded usage.

Understand Exceptions

The impact of an exception on the minds of team members is big.  They watch you, manager.  They take clues for action from your action.  When you step out of the normal, they believe it is okay to do the same anytime they so choose.  Get it?  Get it!  Guard it.

Understand your own decision.  You cannot simply make an exception without understanding and being able to explain to someone else.

Exceptions are not meant to be rules; however, if you don’t take the next two steps, they will become rules.

Communicate Clearly

Exceptions will cause a problem.  They will.  You have order and rules to prevent problems.  Okay, accept that and be prepared to contain the problem.  Of course, you accommodate for that in your decision.  Explain the problem.  Explain the accommodation.  Explain why this is a onetime decision.  Be prepared for questions and distrust.  Yes, you worked hard to communicate why you would never do what you just did and then you did it.  But, it was an exception, right?  You really did have a reason other than you just wanted to do it?  Right?

Let your leaders and decision makers know this is an exception, why you made it, and how they might follow your logic in their next decision.  Logic?  You had some, right?

Contain Expanded Usage

After an exception, reinforce the rule.  Take time to pull documentation if necessary and explain why this is a onetime decision and why not to do it with any regularity.  Be honest.  Did you do it for political purposes?  Then explain the urgency of the situation and protocol you followed.  Did you do it to prevent  Don’t hide behind, “Because I said so.”  That is weak and lacks open communication to the team.

Summary:  Do these three things when you make an exception and they won’t become a rule.

Be attentive and cautious when making exceptions that they really fulfill your direction.

Always enjoy managing the exceptions and the disciplines.

Be Busy Building Business  Have a Great Day!

Phil

========================================

I need your help. I need you to join me for lunch.  (It is okay if you want to just give to the work also if you can’t come.)

Register now. http://www.championfatherstourney.org

On Sept 16th at 11:45am join Carey Casey, CEO of the National Center for Fathering, Hon. James Lankford, U.S. House of Representatives, Chuck Bowman, Larry Campbell, Imagenet+ Consulting, R.K. Black, Kimray, Tom Hill, keyevado, Shepherd Consulting, Willow Creek Golf and Country Club and others.

Your registration goes directly to works in progress at Tulakes Elementary in North OKC, Epperly Heights Elementary in Del City, East OKC, West OKC, Dad’s University, and Matamoros families. Through the support of a friend, lunch expenses are covered. That means your registration goes directly to the work.

You can join for golf afterwards, if you would like. But, I need you to join me for lunch.

You can sponsor more, but, I need you to join me for lunch.

Register Now: http://www.championfatherstourney.org/

6 Summer Tips for Business Development

This AP article stimulated good thought.  It is  a quick read.  Take out a piece of paper as you read an write down at least 3 action items you are going to make happen.

What do you do when you are in downtime?

Every business hits downtime.  Sometimes it is planned or seasonal or just happens for no explainable reason.  It can be some of your most profitable time.

This AP writer – Jennifer WitterJennefer Witter does a good job noting six downtime action items:

Grow Your Network – Refresh Your Web Presence (include social) – Assess Goals – Get Staff on Track – Automate – Get Away

Enjoy….The Big Story 6 Things Small Businesses Should Do This Summer

The Rule of Synergy: Three Have to Have Accelerators

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Phil

Engage others in creative and synergistic endeavors.  Purposefully find ways to force team member interplay for power results.  Be sensitive and firm.  This is not a day at the ropes course.  This is in the work place on real tasks that have real risk of failure and real potential for success and reward.

“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.” Steven Covey

It takes a LEADER: Good executive leaders understand this rule.  Leadership is required.  Manager thought tends to avoid this risky behavior. Lead.

Personal Security: The workplace should ooze with personal security and powerful self esteem and a sense of individual dignity.  Of course it might not be happening where you lead.  Then you need to work on it.  People need to understand accountability and responsibility and the safety of making mistakes from which we learn.

Accountability means I understand my actions and results impact all those around me and I account that into my decisions.  Others will hold me accountable for what I do.  They will rejoice in tandem, forgive forthright mistakes, and hold me responsible for results both individual and together.

Responsibility means my action will impact me directly.  I get it.  I understand it.  I welcome it.  Good or bad results, I am responsible for my actions.

Personal security can only be reinforced in such a dual environment.  Many lack personal security and are looking for everyone from mom and dad to the government to supervisors to take responsibility for their success or failures.  Those people cannot thrive in synergy at optimum levels.  But they can start where they are, grow, and experience more daily.

Openness: Every team has to find the place of what Jim Collins calls, “brutally confronting the facts.”  It is not negative.  It is a direct and non-personal approach to dealing with the blips, glitches, misstatements, wrong turns, customer complaints, and missed deadlines.  Dancing around the issues because a team member is overly sensitive inhibits synergy.  You have to want synergy.  You have to desire synergy.  You have to yearn for synergy to get past covered conversations into open, intelligent discussion.

Spirit of Adventure:  A community leader speaking at a business leaders’ lunch asked for a show of hands.  “Who loves to do things with uncertain results and a high risk?”  Only one hand among 450 went up.  “Well”,  he said, “that is the definition of adventure.”  Among all of these senior executives, bankers, lawyers, CEOs, and wizened warriors of the workplace, the sense of adventure had died.  For synergy to happen every day, the third ingredient is a spirit of adventure.  Individually and together the team needs to led into a continual spirit of adventure.

On a powerfully synergistic team, a client came with a bothersome technical improbability.  Theoretically, what they were doing should work.  But, it was failing at several levels of production and the supporting vendors had sent them to us for resolution.  After some frustrating attempts, one of the team just would not let it go.  He tested and tried and worked with the other members to come up with a solution.  At first, we discovered how to force it through our production engine, but only with effort.  Then synergy exploded.  A simple solution was implemented that allowed the originating production shop to perform without having to upgrade their equipment or outsource the job to us.  Our team invented themselves synergistically out of a job that was highly profitable.  Openness means honesty.  Sense of personal security means do the right thing for the client.  Spirit of adventure means taking on the improbable and finding a way to do it anyway.

Excellence Starts Here! Three Tips For Top Performance. Engaging Ingenuity.

IMG00354-20100730-0810

These two gentlemen represent a great event in a production shop.  What really is the beginning of such powerful events?  Oh, the event?  The team had kept key equipment up and running and productive for 30 days with no vendor calls.  Amazing.  Especially considering the fact that prior to this the equipment required calls every 2-3 days for many years.  They are holding an award for the historic event.  Now, back to the question.  What really is the beginning of such powerful events?

Think about why you need these events?  A friend used to call them “Big Days”.  Big Days build strength in an organization, overcome defiant obstacles, and release energy of the team in a positive manner that is brooding in a negative manner.  For those reasons alone, you need to engage the next three points.

One: Get dissatisfied.  Yes, that is the beginning of all great change.  If you are comfortable and content, change is a threat.  You must engage vision for the future with passion and be dissatisfied with the status quo.

Two:  Spread your dissatisfaction.  Now, you don’t need to get people upset over nothing.  But if the people you are serving can’t get their jobs done or their product delivered or their services received on time, you need to get some partners in your dissatisfaction.  Other managers, co-workers, staff, key customers, executives and others probably are already dissatisfied.  Let them know you understand and listen to their view points.

Three:  This is where real change starts.  Pick a key point over which everyone is dissatisfied and attack it with passion and purpose.  Dig for a root cause that will help everyone in the process.  The theory of constraints explains that when you dig out a major point of constraint, you loosen up other constraints to become visible so they can be resolved.  In other words, break the dam!

You will be amazed.  This team went into overdrive for customer satisfaction when they found this one barrier to productivity resolved.  They annihilated this bothersome downtime issue on key machines, developed new procedures for maintaining the equipment, gained independence from the vendor, improved production turnaround times, and improved the entire shop morale.

Just a thought today for those looking to do something good for themselves and those they serve.

Exec/Direct: Effective In House Printing: Customers Are People

Image

Changing Views

A large retailer directed that every time the word “customer” appears in their marketing it was to be replaced with “people”.  Dehumanizing people is a common characteristic of service organizations.  Historical IT organizations like the term “user” for those that come to them for service.  In Plant and other inside department service teams can get lax in how we view those that provide for our livelihood.  Maybe over time the word “customer” has become too common.  Smart organizations serve people.  People need relationship.

Celebrations of 100%

The phone call was from the manager of one my largest customers.  Usually that call meant some service glitch had occurred.  This time it was different.  She called to tell me that her group had been doing 100% of their business with us for the last six months.  She had not told us.  She had just done it.  Her team loved it.  They loved our people.

Could she come and have a surprise party and celebrate with the team?  Her team and my team together?  Of course.  I love the pictures of that moment.  The smiles had taken years of service and listening and adapting.  But here they were.  These moments are repeatable.

Organizations Are Different

In the university organization relationship development with Athletics, Admissions, Administration, Alumni, and Academics brings big results.  A good friend with over twenty years of good success in a private university taught me that cultural specific.  People have cultures and ways of grouping themselves.  Be attentive.  Both at the executive and ordering customer level, this is critical.  Universities have their own culture that needs stroked and attended.

In corporate America relationship development can vary greatly.  But every organization has the C Suite.  CEO, COO, CIO, CTO, CSO, CRO, CMO, and CFO have some commonalities and some differences.  Executives look for risk reduction, human resource optimization, cost containment, budget stability and predictability, and revenue growth.  Those are common concerns.  Yet, ever executive has a focus area.  Marketing, finance, sales, information, security, risk, operations, technology, and the Executive Officer each have nuances of interest alongside the commonalities.  A smart In Plant studies and meets the needs of the executive organization.

Family companies can differ from stock public owned companies.  The dynamics are different.  The people act differently and have different priorities.  Get specific to your organization.

Industries can differ.  An insurance or finance oriented company looks at minute details and tends to attract analytical managers.  A retail organization is geared for change and adaptation.  Smart departments adapt to the differences evident in the people in the organization.

So How Do You Humanize the Customer?

Working with a university in-plant, my estimate is that they can double and even triple effectiveness and “share of wallet” in existing relationships by tuning into the “voice of the customer”.    Too often, we get focused on the differences we have with those that come to us for service.  Why not look at the similarities?  Why not find the connections we have and commonalities?  Humanize your view of the people you serve.

They have a message to deliver to a group and a response they would like.  Whether it is a course pack for a law professor or a direct personalized mailer for a sales organization, there is a reason for the communication going out on paper and a response that is wanted.  Isn’t that what all of us do all day?  We communicate in order to get a response.  Focus on what that person is looking to accomplish.

The people you serve have demands and pressures.  Sound familiar?  The In-Plant is constantly pushed to deadlines.  It is the last lap in a long race for any organization or company.  The people who we serve are under similar pressures to perform.  Relate.

The people you serve have families and lives outside of their work.  When working with one marketing manager, it was joy to listen as she shared about her husband and children and community activities.  They were different priorities than my life, but most similar in many ways.  The relationship built understanding from family to the work place.

Gain Efficiencies on Trust

Steven Covey is known for his premier work on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  His son is known for his work on the Speed of Trust.  Trust built through relationship can enable great communication between “customer” and “service team”.  End to end high speed communication chains in a print service team and customer relationship ensures minimum loss of time and minimum waste in execution.

Enabled service that lives in a humanized relationship with those served provides a value to an organization that is inestimable.  The value of those that serve with the maximum vested interest at heart of those they serve as people not “users” cannot be measured in dollars.  The people served are empowered at a new level that just is hard to convey.  Those people end up bringing double to quadruple the business to the service team.  Maybe you can have a 100% party.

Light Bulb Moments – Empowered In-Plant Printers

What was that “light-bulb” moment that had the greatest success on your operation?

People serve people?

Online really does work?

I can help others grow?

What Makes A Successful In-Plant Printer Successful?

Finding the right mix of product and service alongside an appreciative customer base helps every in-plant prosper.  Listen as these successful managers tell their stories.  This is one of an insightful series filmed at GraphExpo in 2012.

How can you make the changes needed?

Where will you get the people?

How will you train them?