(Time to read this Blog article is about 4 minutes)
This Blog is a little longer than usual, but it’s one of the most important Blogs I’ve ever written.
In last week’s Blog I wrote about the fact that most outside Accounting Firms fail to deliver the business analysis and advice that they say they will. I received a ton of great feedback on this, some of it from Accountants who completely agreed with me. If you missed last week’s insightful ‘straight talk’ Blog, you can access it here. Click Here
One Blog reader wrote to ask, “If I can’t get good management input from my current Accounting Firm, what should I do? Great question! So, I spent hours creating 16 tips to improve the level of management effectiveness in your business. Here’s what I came up with:
First off, it may be that you need to demand a higher level of management insight from your ‘outside Accounting Firm’. Check their website or advertising (and that of their Accounting Association) to see what they promise to deliver and compare that to what they’re actually delivering. Then, have a frank conversation with them about their lack of performance and specifically how they commit to correct that.
But, frankly, as I wrote in last week’s Blog, your outside Accounting Firm may be incapable of delivering the management insight that you need. In that case, you need to adjust your expectations of them and develop a higher level of management insight in other ways (see my extensive list below), or you need to find a new outside Accounting Firm that can and will provide the level of business management insight that you need and deserve.
There are several ways to improve management effectiveness in your business. They can be embraced individually, but a combination of some of the ideas listed below will be most effective. I’ve divided the 16 ideas into 3 categories to make it easier for you: Which of these ideas can work best for you?
Category #1: Improve your own management ability:
- Join a local support group of business owners and top managers in non-competing industries who meet once a month to help each other with their management challenges. Of course, there is a fee to join. One of these groups, operating worldwide, is called Vistage. In Canada, it’s called TEC (The Executive Committee).
There’s another group that operates similarly to Vistage called TAB (The Alternative Board). It’s for business owners only. You can find info about both Vistage, TEC and TAB on Google. These groups have local Coaches / Organizers who also provide individual coaching between meetings.
YPO is a well-known global support group for CEOs. Their very specific membership criteria can also be found on Google. A number of our Biz Coaching clients have found Vistage, TEC, TAB or YPO to be most helpful.
Join or create a Mastermind Group of non-competing successful owners of businesses in your industry. Meet quarterly for a few days to ask questions, compare operating numbers, discuss challenges and share solutions. If a specific problem comes up between meetings, you can phone your Mastermind Group members, individually, for advice. There’s generally no fee to join but, of course, you pay your own expenses to attend the quarterly meetings. You’ll find info about creating Mastermind Groups on Google.
Get management mentoring from a (possibly retired) friend who has been very successful in your industry. Often people in this position love being helpful just to keep active and engaged. Make sure they’re up on the latest technologies and innovations in your industry. Some mentors will happily mentor you for no fee and others will charge for sharing their wisdom, experience and connections.
Take advantage of all the management education available from your industry Association, for both you and your team.
Many of your suppliers will have formal or informal management and technical training available…no charge.
Listen to your team…including your front-line people. They know stuff about what needs to be done to improve the business and they hate it when you don’t ask. When you don’t ask, they assume that you don’t care. And, if you don’t care, why should they?
There are many ways to get input from your team, individually and as a group. Create an environment where ideas are welcome, acknowledged and rewarded. Ask individuals for their thoughts on how to do their job more efficiently, more accurately or more safely. Ask them what’s preventing them from being more effective. Then listen and take action.
Another idea that has worked for hundreds of our clients is to create an ‘Idea Fest’ 3 times a year. Each team member is responsible for coming to the event with at least one idea to operate more effectively, work more safely, create a better culture, serve customers more wonderfully, save money or be more environmentally friendly. The team votes on whose idea is best and the winner gets a cash prize of $50 or $100. Be sure to acknowledge, thank and fairly reward folks for the ideas that you implement.
- Attend live or virtual Seminars or Boot Camps offered by experts in your industry or subject experts. These events could be on overall management and leadership…or on one specific aspect such as financial management, HR, technology, staff empowerment, or marketing.
- Attend Management Courses offered by the Business School at your local College or University.
- Hang out with people who are smarter and more successful than you. Listen and ask questions. Who we choose to spend time with and how intentional we are about becoming ‘smarter’ has a huge influence on our personal and business success. If you’re always the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
- Read some of the top-rated management books. Google search ‘Best management books of the year’ and pick a few. Read Business Magazines like Fortune and Fast Company.
- Invest just $24 to purchase my 34-page ‘Vision Critical Guide’ at donaldcooper.com, or Click Here. This step-by-step Guide, 7 years in the making, has helped thousands of clients create insight and a clear, specific 3 to 5-year Plan for the future of their business. It comes as a downloadable PDF.
- Invest $40 to purchase my complete set of 45 ‘Business assessment & management implementation Tools’. These Tools and Templates have also helped thousands of clients around the world to determine where their business is now, where it needs to be…and how to get from here to there. To purchase as a PDF download, Click Here or go to donaldcooper.com.
Category #2: Hire, challenge, engage and reward top quality people to manage each Department or function in your business:
As a business owner, leader or manager, you should be hiring department or task managers who know at least 5 times more about the specifics of that area of the business than you do. ‘We become what we hire!’ If we hire 1st rate employees, we become a 1st rate business, one recruitment at a time. If we hire 2nd rate employees, we become a 2nd or 3rd rate business, one recruitment at a time. It’s your choice.
There are many excellent articles, tips and videos on Google to help you get better at hiring top performers. Just type, ‘How to hire the best people’ into Google.
Sadly, many business owners and leaders are reluctant to hire smart, experienced, talented experts to manage each department or function in their business. They need to always be the smartest person in the room and they feel threatened or intimidated by talented experts. This is often because these business owners, leaders and managers don’t understand what their real job is. They think their job is ‘to do stuff’ and, if they hire folks who can do that stuff better than they can, they’ll have no ‘useful purpose’ in the business.
I had a Biz Coaching client a few years ago who bragged to me that he could do every job in the business better than any of his staff…and I knew he was in big trouble. It turned out that the one job he couldn’t do was to manage and lead his business. It was a disaster!
It takes guts and confidence to surround yourself with people who are smarter in their specific area than you are…but that’s your 2nd most important job.
Note: So what’s your #1 most important job? As a business owner, leader or manager, your #1 most important job is to be ‘clear’ about 10 things. I’m sorry that there are 10 things that you must be clear about and not just 3 or 4…but business is complicated. You can download my Biz Tool on ‘Business Clarity’ and take the ‘Clarity Test’, no charge, by Clicking Here.
After creating ‘Clarity’, your 2nd most important job is to build a world-class team, to create a business culture that listens to, engages, respects and rewards that team and then to coach and challenge that team to grow the business.
So, do you see yourself as a player or a coach? In sports, the difference is clear. Players play and coaches coach. You never see a football coach run out on the field in the middle of a game, take the ball from a player and run down the field himself. Why? Because there are clear rules about coaching and playing and there’s a referee who will blow his whistle if coaches try to be players. Sadly, in business, there are no clear rules on coaching and playing…and there’s no referee. So, bosses (coaches) often grab the ball and run with it while the players stand on the sidelines. As the people in charge of the rules, the bosses are also the ones with the whistle…and they never blow that whistle on themselves!
One more thing, don’t just hire people who can help you with today’s challenges and opportunities. You need people with the skills, expertness and drive to help get you to where you need to be in 3 to 5 years. If you don’t have a clear Vision for the future of your business or department, your business as you best understand it is your business as it just was, last year. So, you go out and hire people for the immediate past…not for the future. I see this happen over and over. This is why it’s so important to have a clear Vision for the future of your business and your industry. See point #11 above re my $24 Vision Critical Guide.
- ‘Rent’ experts for the time you need them. Depending on the size of your business, you may not need, or be able to afford, top-notch full-time managers in certain areas like HR, system design, website development & maintenance or managing social media. For these kinds of functions, you can hire an ‘outsourced expert’ on an ongoing basis for the exact number of days a week or month that you need them. This very clever strategy allows you to have the benefit of high-level experts that you could never afford on a full-time basis.
Category 3: Get short-term outside help:
Hire world-class expert Consultants who are specific to your industry. These folks will not be cheap, but they’re incredible value. Last fall I worked with a client based in a small town in Kansas. This is a manufacturing business where 100% of their production is high-end, custom and labor-intensive, using natural and variable raw materials. Typically, this combination of factors is a nightmare when it comes to efficiency and quality. But, this factory was amazing! It was so well laid out with world-class technology, machinery, processes and people. I was blown away.
They’re committed to their customers, they listen to their staff and they’ve created an incredible culture. But they do one additional thing. Every few years they bring the two sharpest production consultants in their industry, all the way from Germany to their small town in Kansas for two weeks to advise on how to do it even better.
- Hire top-notch task-specific Consultants or Freelancers who are not necessarily experts in your industry. Branding, graphic design, certain technology design & installation functions, specific staff training and ‘succession & exit planning’ are examples.
So, there you have my 16 suggestions on how you can strengthen management effectiveness in your business or department. Which of these will be most helpful to you …and when will you start?
That’s it for this week…
Stay calm…live brilliantly…and do at least 3 important or kind things each day!
How Donald can help: Until it’s safe for groups to meet in person, we’re offering remote Business Coaching to business owners and managers around the world who want to improve performance in some or all of these 5 key areas:
- Create compelling customer value and experiences that give them a clear competitive advantage.
- Market and promote more effectively in a crowded and cynical marketplace. There’s no point being the best if you’re also the best kept secret.
- Attract, lead and retain a dedicated and top-performing team. The real battle in business today is the battle for talent.
- Manage smarter and improve long-term profitability…and to,
- Create a clear direction for the future of their business…and a clear Action Plan to get there.
To chat about how I can be helpful, just email me at email@example.com, or phone us at 416-252-3703 in Toronto, Canada.