In business, as in life, there is generally a hierarchy and structure for how things run. Leaders are identified. Departments are established. Managers are appointed. Processes are set. And, if all is as it should be, all of the cogs fit together and run like a well-oiled machine. The best organizations even create redundancies to ensure that when key personnel are out sick or on vacation for a few days, there are other knowledgeable individuals who can step in temporarily to ensure that operations continue smoothly.
However, many companies fall short of actually creating a full Succession Plan in case a vital cog in the machinery breaks and must be replaced. Most organizations do not have any preparations in place that will go into effect if a vital member of the team is suddenly gone either by choice or chance. For example, Business Week magazine featured an article questioning why Herb Kelleher, CEO of Southwest Airlines, had not designated and groomed a successor. This exposed a weakness that exists in many companies’ strategic thinking. Indeed, many companies lack ‘bench strength’ or sufficient ‘ready now candidates’ to replace planned and unplanned losses of key leaders and staff. As a result, the future continuity and performance of the business is at risk. While it may seem grim and cold, a Succession Plan is actually one of the most responsible and considerate things any business can do for the good of the company. Here’s how. Continue reading
At this time of year, there is a natural tendency to get a little more introspective. Folks will reflect on the past and contemplate the future. Some may stop to consider what has happened, both good and bad. They may think about what they have, don’t have, or what they want. It is natural to do a personal inventory of one’s life during meaningful holidays or after milestone moments or major events.
However, in tough times, there is a danger that such an exercise can do more emotional harm than good. Anyone that has experienced a major loss – due to a natural disaster, illness, career setback, business challenge or personal problem – may find taking a personal inventory depressing. It doesn’t have to be. In fact, some deep, personal reflection can help bring into focus what is most important and provide fuel to move forward with purpose. As Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.” Even in tough times – especially in tough times – it is important to look not at the doors that have closed but at the ones that are opening. Here are 10 tips to help with the process.
To gift or not to gift, that is the question. For the last five or six years, companies cut back on the quantity and value of corporate gifts given to clients. It was understood that times were tough and businesses could scarcely justify giving gifts to clients when they were laying off staff, freezing hiring, cutting salaries and increasing workloads. The economy could legitimately be blamed for a reduction in gift-giving. After all, corporate profits in the first quarter of 2009 hit its lowest level in a decade.
However, the economy seems to have turned a corner. According to a recent report from the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. corporate profits for the third quarter of 2012 reached a record high, even adjusted for inflation. Moreover, the increase was entirely a result of stronger business at home. Likewise, the real estate sector seems to be bouncing back. The current share of non-distressed sales is at its highest level since August 2008. With these positive signs, businesses are once again contending with the annual discussion around client gifting. Should we or shouldn’t we? If we should, to whom do we give? Who will compile the list? How much should we spend? What level of gift should go to which people? Must we match or up the ante over what we gave last year? These can be tricky questions. Here are some suggestions for creating and fulfilling the shopping list for clients. Continue reading
The old adage of ‘practice makes perfect’ conveys the idea that with enough practice a person’s performance can achieve perfection. Yet, the term ‘perfection’ itself seems to fly in the face of the essence of being ‘human.’ It is universally understood that to be human is to be imperfect. So if that’s true, just how much can practice improve a person’s performance at any given task or skill?
The issue of ‘practice’ has been examined and re-examined by teachers, industrial psychologists, and coaches the world over. Does practice make perfect? It is certainly the question that anyone trying to achieve an exceptional level of success would want to know. And certainly any business owner or entrepreneur should wonder just how much ‘practice’ do skilled employees need to achieve mastery in their profession. If practice makes perfect, just how much practice is that? Continue reading