Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hey Leader - Show Me Your Numbers!


As an IBM Futurist, I've had the opportunity to get an inside of view of the fantastic work IBM is doing with analytics, big data, cognitive computing, machine learning and AI, all encompassed in the wonderful world of Watson. These capabilities frankly are mind blowing.


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One significant take-away from my exposure has been the role numbers play in our everyday lives and particularly in our businesses. I wrote about this in the post entitled Have You Experienced The Power of Numbers?

I shared: "Numbers can tell a story. Numbers can amplify a need. Numbers can help us see truth. Numbers are a reality check."

In fact numbers "inform"...they give form to what initially cannot be seen or difficult to identify -- they can make tangible, the intangible.

I'll admit in the past I've taken numbers and the value they offer forgranted. Mostly recently I've tried to bring that value to my clients through my latest executive briefing Show Me The Money!

My journey with numbers has lead me to conclude that numbers are an non-negotiable partner to any leader. In the most obvious ways, its through accounting and yet there are many other ways numbers are not being acknowledged or utilized.

I love the story in my post, referenced above, about the tech firm's response to their recruiting numbers. The numbers motivated them to creatively act.

In my executive briefing, Show Me The Money! , I help decision-makers apply numbers to employee performance so that they can create profitable strategies to grow their companies by way of improving employee performance and growing their capabilities. I call it "strategic talent development".

Many leaders hesitate to invest in this way because they don't know how to calculate or apply relevant numbers to performance or determine ROI, even when they begrundingly decide to invest.

In fact, many make decisions against their own self interest and that of their company because effective use of numbers is not in their toolkit.

So, what's the point of this post? After my completing my recent briefing, I felt compelled to ask again, "Have you experienced the power of numbers in your leadership and for your organization?"

Beyond accounting, ask yourself...
What numbers am I using to run my business?
What numbers do I need?
What systems or tools do I need acquire them?
How can and will my decision-making change with better numbers?
How can and what numbers will help me grow my business?

In the arena I work (business growth through effective talent mangement), for sure quantitating employee performance should be one of them. 

For example, a common challenge for many organizations is underperforming managers. As the discussion begins with a potential client, to determine how much to invest to address the concern, I ask, "How much is this costing you?" I've rarely had a client know the answer. 99% say and then ask, "I dont' know." "How would you determine that?"

Being able to answer that question is a capability essential for every decision-maker


How to determine the impact of an employee's performance to profit/loss is both a human resource and finanical resource competency.

If that's not present, it will adversely affect the management of their talent (which really is business management) -- beginning with how they frame and diagnose issues and the subsequent decisions made.

For this post, let's look at the power of numbers through a common business example:

A 100 employee company is growing rapidly. More employees are needed to take on increasing business. But before that is done, (and because strategic planning was done vs. a rush to hire) current employees could "grow their capabilities and capacity" with some development, some could be assigned to different positions and new roles could be created to leverage capabilities not being used. (By the way, this strategic plan has already saved money while positioning their "human" resource to accomodate more growth).

Related to growing capacity, let's use the operational strategy of improving time management as one element of  development. Time management/productivity training and coaching (which I see as process improvement by the way) can get tangible results quickly.

Note: The kind of thinking that sees employee training as just that and not connected to operational improvement to serve the greater goals, really undermines the ever-present opportunties to leverage the human side of the enterprise.

So with a small investment, let's say each employee comfortably improves capacity by 1 hour a day.  For 100 employees, that's 100 hours in a day for that company.  

Think about that for a minute. It's one thing to think,"Oh 1 employee improved by 1 hour a day."  That, perhaps, doesn't sound like a big deal. Yet, the cumulative number sounds impressive and this is where we begin to experience the power of numbers.

Now, add the multiplier effect. Let's take 100 hours a day x 5 days = 500 hours for the week for the company as a whole, and 2,000 for the month (considering 20 business work days).

Again, stop and think about how those hours can now be recaptured and reallocated (terms I use in my time management workshop).

Now let's add perspective. Let's translate these numbers into days and weeks.

We'll use 8 hours:
Day #   =>   100 hours / 8 = 12.5 days (2 1/2 weeks) gained from 1 hour per employee 
Week # =>   500 hours / 8 = 62.5 days (12.5 weeks) gained
Month # =>  2,000 hours / 8 = 250 days (50 weeks or 12.5 mths)

That's appx.1 year of increased capacity! What could that mean for opportunties to increase profits?

Now let's translate those hours into dollars. You can simply average, by hour, the total compensation of the 100 employees. Let's say $15.00 (totally random here and for many reading this, the number is probably low). 

Day #       $1,500 (100 x $15.00/hr)
Week #    $ 7,500
Month#    $ 30,000
Quarter#  $ 90,000
1 Year      $ 360,000

Now...when someone tells me they can't afford a time mangement workshop or productivity coaching for key leaders...all one can say is, "Are you kidding me?" And this spotlights a very important point - decisions surrounding employee performance and development tend to be very short-sighted -- long term impact or ripple effect are generally not considered.

This is a very simple example of the power of numbers. Numbers are an essential business partner! Consider, what numbers can do for you?... for your business? Also consider what competitive advantage other companies have that have and are better utilzing numbers.
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The Human Sphere is a business growth, talent management consultancy that helps senior leaders rapidly connect people, performance, and profits.

Learn more about our lastest executive briefing: Show Me The Money!

If you need help with improving your leaders, managers or overall employee performance, don't hesitate to connect for a brief introductory discuss. We'd love to hear what's on your mind.
joann@thehumansphere.com | 888.388.0565

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

8 Ways Your Business Birthday Can Boost Your Business Success

Editor's Note: Phil Symchych is a colleague of mine and a an inductee in Alan Weiss's  Million Dollar Consultant Hall of Fame. His wisdom and expertise is referenced several times in my latest executive briefing, Show Me The Money! Unlocking the Mystery of ROI to Unlock Profits and Increase Company Value. He is the financial guru to small to mid-size companies. I receive his newsletters and though I always feel tempted to share each one, this one in particular was stuffed with great, actionable advice and insights! Take the time to learn more about his work. His contact info. is at the bottom! For now, thoughtfully consider and take action on his great business advice!

One Year Wiser
Our eldest daughter Anastasia just celebrated her 19th birthday. Over dinner, we discussed her experiences, what she saw as the highlights, and what she's learned in the past year.

In your business, do you celebrate your birthdays, think about what you've experienced and learned, and plan for the next year?

Entrepreneurs and their privately held companies drive 54% of the GDP in the top 17 economies in the world, according to the World Bank.

As a business owner or leader, can you imagine the impact if you improved the performance of your company by just 2%? If everyone could do that, you would all lift the global GDP by 1%!! (wow)!

That's why entrepreneurs are the modern-day heroes of our economies. They also aim for a lot more than 2% growth.

Let's talk about how you can celebrate your business birthday.
  1. Identify your anniversary date and let everyone know how old your business is. This gives you something fun do once a year. And, it shows credibility and stability. When you've been in business for 40 years and have 354 employees, like EMW Industrial, you've helped a lot of companies feed the world. That's a great message to share with the market.
  2. Hold a party and share stories. Another client, MuniSoft, holds an Annual General Meeting and brings everyone together from across the country for training and team building. They have a great culture and a great business.
  3. Ask your leadership team, individually and as a group, what their biggest accomplishments and learnings were from the last year. Their answers may surprise you.
  4. Drill deep to discover the experiences gained and lessons learned in the past. This helps you codify and share the lessons throughout your company. And it helps to prevent repeating the mistakes. (New ones are much more interesting!)
  5. Celebrate the mistakes and new perspectives gained. Your employees will take chances and not hide information from you.
  6. Try new things that might delight your customers. Just don't bet the farm. This is strategy at its best. Protect and strengthen your core while developing new valuable offerings for your best customers.
  7. Prepare an annual report. You can share whatever financial information (or none) that you want. You can talk about your strengths, industries served, strategies, risks, and goals. In other words, run your private business like a public company. That will strengthen your credibility with your shareholders and partners.
  8. Blow your own horn. If you don't, how will we know how great you are?
Celebrating birthdays and accomplishments are important in business. Learning from your successes and experiences will help you to be even wiser and more profitable next year.

If you'd like to discuss how I can help you celebrate your business, prepare an annual report, or plan to have your best year ever, please give me a call.

You can reach me at 1-306-992-6177 or by email at Phil@symcoandco.com.
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The Human Sphere is a business growth, leadership development consultancy that partners w/ senior leadership to increase profits through human-centric, results-based leadership Learn more here

Monday, February 20, 2017

Does Your Leadership Have Your Talent on Lockdown?

I love getting random calls from clients -- who actually want to talk with me (without me initiating). I so much enjoy the partnerships I experience. I particularly enjoy when they are anxious to share good news resulting from the work we've done.  Recently, I had that kind of call.

The president was one year into his role after taking over for a leader that had been removed. One of the main reasons for the dismissal was the overly oppressive, out-of-control micro management style by which this person lead.

Consider for a moment the potential conditions and results of this kind of style. In this particular situation, it was abundantly clear it had a substantial negative impact to the leadership team and ultimately the entire company.

The most impactful result, with the greatest consequence, was fear!
Imagine for a moment a leadership team consumed with and controlled by fear.

I heard it once said that managers will either unlock or lock down their team's talent. For sure, this president has his team's talent on lock down, Alcatraz style! They were afraid to speak up, afraid to offer suggestions, afraid to independently problem-solve, afraid to sit in a different place at a meeting (no, I'm not kidding). They were told what to do instead of being asked for ideas and there was plenty of blame to spend around when outcomes were not achieved. This was control on steroids!

It resulted in a supressive leadership culture which generated distrust, resentment, frustration, defaulting to worst intention instead of best intention, back-bitting...you get the picture.  

Finally relief came! It came in the form of a leader who was exactly the opposite! You could sit where you wanted in a meeting, lead your departments as you saw fit, ideas were welcomed, collaboration was encouraged, blame was seen as unproductive.

Of course adapting to this new leadership style did not happen over night. It took a while for the team to get use to what this kind of leadership style offered. And this offers an important leadership insight: behavioral conditioning is not automatically undone just because freedom is pronounced.

It can take a while (and did) for the reality of a new environment to be realized and for the conditioned fear to subside. In fact actualizing the new leadership culture, collegial relationships of trust and respect (remember, they were very practiced in self-protection by throwing each other under the bus), initiating operational performance improvement had to be continuously nurtured and reinforced. 

So, it was just coming upon year one when I was asked to do a leadership roundtable to formally align values, culture expectations, mission, vision, ground rules for communication and managing conflict (a must have with every team!), as well as facilitate an active discussion assessing how the first year had gone under new leadership.

Back to the call, which I received a month and half later, continued progress was discussed and described this way "They are taking initiate, they are demonstrating a real desire to improve, they are taking ownership, I am letting them think for themselves, they feel their own sense of authority and capabilities by exercising their own leadership with their departments, I try to support and coach." (There are some real human behavior insights in those statements).

The result?  In an attempt to improve operations an idea, implemented with a collaborative effort between departments netted a $60,000 savings -- an improvement that could have been detected years earlier. It's a fixed yearly savings going forward. Imagine the money wasted because it was not detected earlier.

Additionally, they are now receiving a major award with one of their key customers, now servicing the customer's entire operations of 800 locations.

One thing for sure, certain leadership behaviors will impact your profits -- one way or another.

I know for a fact there are many company leaders and managers who lead in such a way that "lock-down" talent -- that suppress great, needed performance as well as growth. It is a blatant waste of money.  In my latest executive briefing, Show Me The Money!I identify that as loosing "return-on-compensation."

In fact, it's a deeper issue. The very managers who are loosing "roc"are continually being paid and in fact receiving raises. Think about this for a moment...

Managers are being paid to help a company lose money.

I have been in the talent management industry for a generous amount of years and am still continually baffled at the amount of money wasted and lack of attention given to helping managers and leaders to be competent business partners.

Ask yourself, "Is this a condition we are facing in our organization?" If so, please reach out for help.
call 888.388.0565 or email: joann@thehumansphere.com. Every day not action is taken, money is being lost.

========================================================================================== The Human Sphere is a business growth consultancy, that partners with senior leadership to bridge the gap between talent, performance and profits.