This is the 2nd of a 5 Part series on getting and keeping your business organized
Have you ever heard the statement, “If it wasn’t for the people, this business would be a breeze!”
It seems that running a business has challenges on its own, but add people to the mix and it can become down right frustrating. Whether the people are employees, customers, vendors or even friends who seem to know it all, having a staff adds a whole new dimension to management and leadership. They can be time-consuming and frustrating. So what is the answer? Here it is.
One of the behaviors that seem to cause confusion and send people in a tailspin is “do what you say you will do”. If everyone did what they said they would do, life would be good. Unfortunately, many set unreasonable expectations that depend on everything going absolutely perfect. That doesn’t happen too often. They set expectations based on what their manager wants to hear. Then they come back with excuses of why it couldn’t happen assuming it was beyond their control and not their fault. When I ask you a question, give me the answer that includes the anticipated obstacles. Tell me you’ll get it done by 4:00 PM if you think it can get done by 3:00 PM. I’d rather be surprised with an early response than a late one.
Don’t give me excuses for why you didn’t get it done and don’t throw your employees under the bus. You’re in charge of them and you’re responsible. Take ownership of your reports and your department. Excuses are just that – reasons why you didn’t get it done. Plan carefully and if something comes up beyond your control, let me know there will be a delay and when you expect to get it done with the delay.
This is an important one. Be straightforward with the people you deal with. Don’t try to play head games to get what you want. If it’s an employee, tell him or her exactly what you expect of them. Don’t try to be their friend or get them to like you. Stick to business. You’ll be able to recognize the day you can let your guard down with them. You can do that in an assertive way without being mean about it.
If it’s a customer, find common things you can talk about. The most important thing you can do with a customer is earn their trust. That is all they want. They want to be able to trust you so they can say they are getting a fair deal. Be their business partner. Some customers keep their guard up in fear of getting taken advantage of. It may take time to get their guard down, but you have to communicate with them to disarm them.. When you do earn it, be mindful that the tide can turn easily. Be consistent in treating them fairly.
With vendors and suppliers, establish partnerships. They need to feel a part of your business and vice versa. Find suppliers that will support your business. Do they back their products and warranties. When something goes sideways, they need to be there to help you. If you miss-order, do they take they honor an exchange? The same thing goes in reverse. They will want you to honor their needs when they ship the wrong products. That’s a partnership.
In both cases, customers and vendors/suppliers, the relationship will last as long as the trust will last. To get there, refer back to the first three items. People who are treated with respect and fairness appreciate the relationship. Showing gratitude for their honesty, service and trust goes a long way.
I’ve always wondered about vendors/suppliers that offered trips, game tickets and other gifts in exchange for loyalty to their products or services. Why do they feel they need to do that? Is it because they are not the best pricing and need the extra oomph to keep your business? It’s the same with employees. If you need to throw money at them to get them to stay, then then they are not loyal to you. There’s nothing wrong with rewarding them with bonuses or tickets or trips, just make sure they understand your message of gratitude, appreciation AND trust.
A critical part of relationships in business is the relationship you have with your bank or the financing arm of your business. Often, these boil down to the particular bank representative you deal with. Is the relationship open? Are you able to call and get his or her support for non-financial as well as financial issues? The mark of a good banker is their ability to listen to your challenges, ask you questions about them and the conversation that follows. While bankers may seem guarded about how they lend you money, their interests are usually protected. They protect the bank, but they will also protect from over-extending yourself. If you have any doubts about whether they are being too guarded, consult with finance professional outside of that bank. Bankers must understand your business to be able to help you.