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Joining the Best in 2014

Posted: December 30, 2013 4:06 p.m.
Updated: December 30, 2013 4:06 p.m.

Ken Keller

 

As the year comes to a close, it is appropriate to look back and ask why some businesses have survived and others went by the wayside; and to understand why some businesses have done well.

Two factors can make a difference between survival and success: how a business is structured and operates; and how the owner chooses to lead and manage. This assessment compares “the best” versus “the rest” with the objective being a recipe for improvement in 2014 for your company if you chose to do so.

The Best have strong business models. These companies have clients, not customers. The best have ongoing revenue streams and strong relationships with clients and suppliers. The relationship could be with the brand name, the products and services or the people that work in the business. The rest have “hope is our business model” clarified to mean that “we hope customers do business with us.”

The Best create and work from a written plan. The plan is long term, strategic in nature, and includes an annual plan with all departments and people expected to execute. The rest have a plan somewhere in the owner’s head.This plan is impacted and changes often depending on emotion, relationships, stress, lack of sleep, trust in others, poor delegation, weak follow-up, an overflowing calendar and relies on the owner’s memory.

The Best delegate responsibility to management to get things done. This does not mean giving up financial control; it means managers are trusted and empowered within pre-established guidelines. The rest suffer from ongoing underperformance because people lack the authority, responsibility and tools to execute properly.


The Best continually evaluate people. Performance reviews are scheduled and held; the people in these companies know what is expected of them. When goals are achieved, rewards are given to reinforce performance. The rest don’t believe in performance evaluations because they take too much time, aren’t done well and don’t work. No one considers that the excuses for not doing these evaluations have any impact as to why evaluations don’t work.

The Best believe in “sharpening the saw.” From the owner on down, people are learning all the time. The better companies see themselves as learning organizations. Continuing education is considered a sustainable competitive advantage. At the rest, learning is optional; almost everyone opts out. The owner is a lifetime student of the school of hard knocks and the rest of the employees suffer as a result.

The Best don’t make excuses; people accept responsibility, learn from what happened and move on. The rest get caught up in the “blame game” pointing fingers resulting in punishment but not always of those responsible.
The Best focus on results. Trying doesn’t count. The rest spend their time focused on everything that keeps people from achieving results.

The Best hire the best. The rest are hired by others.

The Best are always in search of a better way; they are never satisfied with how things are. The rest are satisfied with what they have; good enough is just that. The rest don’t understand that fair, okay, good and pretty good are the enemies of great.

The Best weed out underperformers at every level because it is understood that allowing people who aren’t working to a high standard lowers the standards for every employee. High performing employees resent the presence of those who do not keep up. The rest tolerate underperformers and poor performers.
Will 2014 be the year you join the best, or remain one of the rest?

Ken Keller facilitates The Wise Owners Advisory Boards, bringing business owners together for education, sharing and on-going success. Contact him at KenKeller@SBCglobal.net. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

 

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