Direct Marketing, Mail Order, and E-commerce News from the National Mail Order Association
Anyone Can Captain a Ship in Calm Waters:
As a leader, you provide and maintain momentum within your company. While guiding your employees during recent times was easy, today you may find that the momentum is moving in the wrong direction. So the question is: “How does your company adjust and move forward to greater success?”
1. Analyze the Initiative
As you analyze any initiative that you’ve set for your company, you need to ask yourself three key questions:
Before you attempt to move your company forward, you need to have a clear picture of where it stands today. For example, if you have successfully built a strong product line, you might believe the addition of a new product line makes sense. But you have to look a little closer. Will some employees walk from their established streams of revenue in order to try what may look like a new “magic pill”? Do the employees pride themselves on being “niche” specialists and therefore revolt about diluting the brand? Truly analyze where you are and where you want to be before introducing any initiative.
2. Build Team Support
You’ve likely heard the phrase: “That which they help create, they help
support.” In leadership terms, that phrase reminds us that we need to
include everyone in the organization when we are planning any new
venture. To begin, get input from the entire management team. Even if you
have a single office or locations, you have people there who help you
“manage” the organization—for example, the experienced employee who everyone
respects and views as an informal leader or the longtime staff person that
everyone trusts. Whoever those leaders are, you must include them in the
Next, bring in all staff personnel and tell them the plans. Whether you want to believe it or not, your staff is central to your success. Whatever the initiative, effective follow-up will be crucial. Your staff will be responsible for providing accurate data so you can gauge your progress. Finally, get employee buy-in, and don’t jump into this. Garnering buy-in is a process. Start by testing the idea on a very small group of the staff. Get their opinions and concerns. Analyze those concerns, and then massage your message. Try the new message on a select few. Once you are comfortable with the message itself, you can introduce the initiative to the entire group.
3. Introduce the Initiative
The two main elements to introducing an initiative are venue and format.
First, never introduce an “extremely important” project in the same location
you hold every other meeting. If the idea is important, then make sure the
organization senses that from the beginning. You could hold the meeting at a
local restaurant or a movie theatre (both are inexpensive during certain
daytime hours). Just make it special.
The format of the meeting should also be more powerful than your normal
get-togethers. Leadership must be visible. The room must also reflect the
message in terms of décor and music. If you are introducing a program to
drive revenue, then make sure the music is upbeat and fills the room. If it
is a cost-cutting initiative, keep it modest—no balloons or lobster! Also,
make sure that the leadership is dressed appropriately and is mic’d. More
formal speeches require a podium; less formal speeches need lavaliere mics.
In his book Leadership is an Art, Max De Pree claims that the first
responsibility of a leader is to “introduce reality.” In other words, your
first job is to let the organization know how you have gotten to today.
Don’t be afraid to tell the “bad” news. Remember that employees are aware of
what is taking place in their industry. Be honest and trust in their concern
for the group.
Also, do not be afraid to ask for sacrifice. Most great leaders became famous by asking for sacrifice (JFK, Gandhi, Vince Lombardi, to name a few). Prepare for questions you know will arise. Have third party endorsements at your fingertips (a Wall Street Journal article, a speaker who is an expert in the field, etc.). If there will be a training component, and with new ventures there almost always is, announce the schedule that day. Make everyone in the room feel comfortable that they will be able to participate.
4. Instill Follow-up Systems
Always inspect that which you expect. Your follow-up systems need to have
four elements. The first two are structuring the follow up and centralizing
the reporting. Leaders must delegate efficiency. Therefore, you need to
delegate both of these items to staff personnel. They will relish their part
in the plan and also do a much better job than the management team on these
management team needs to be concerned with step three: evaluating the data.
No initiative is successful unless change transpires. Therefore, charge your
managers with the responsibility of culling over all the data and evaluating
whether movement in the desired direction is actually taking place.
Delegating efficiency means that you need to deal personally with effectiveness. For that reason, you must take responsibility for the fourth and final step: making prudent adjustments. These adjustments will determine the eventual success of the program.
5. Reward Success
Obviously, you can’t reward failure. So if you are at the reward phase, that
means success is taking form. Here are a few guidelines:
A Bright New Future
The American economy will forever continue to cycle. Tony Robbins says, “The size of the hero is determined by the size of the evil they struggle against.” Would we know Helen Keller were she not blind and deaf? Would we know David if not for Goliath? Would we know Lincoln without the Civil War? Great leaders develop through adversity. They do not cave in to circumstance. In the toughest of times they stand up, and through their hard work and perseverance, they become true heroes. As times get tough, remember … now is your moment to shine.
Who is Steve Harney?
Steve Harney is a residential real estate, mortgage and leadership expert who specializes in implementing effective management practices. He authors a monthly informational slide presentation for top professionals and managers titled, “Keeping Current Matters,” and travels the country as a sought-after public speaker and trainer. Please contact Steve at 631-834-7000 or visit www.steveharney.com.
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