Archive

Archive for September, 2011

Business Resiliency Video

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

A clip from my latest Executive Breakfast for CEOs held in Seattle. This clip highlights business resiliency.

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

What are your Employees Tweeting?

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Okay…now read this. This is important.

I just was scanning Twitter and saw a post by one of my favorite sports reporters, Danny O’Neil from the Seattle Times. He posted a blog on the Aaron Curry situation and how it’s trending on Twitter. For those of you not following Seattle Seahawks football, Aaron Curry is the team’s recently benched linebacker who was their first round draft pick three years ago. Curry for all accounts is a hard worker, good teammate, and a physical specimen. He just hasn’t gotten it done on the field and it cost him his starting job. O’Neil points out that Twitter is going gangbusters on Curry’s demotion with Curry acknowledging friends, foes, and fans on his account.

For his part, Curry has been gracious. He doesn’t engage the loudmouths who heckle him from behind the cyberspace curtain. He has kept his composure and professionalism You can read some of the comments on O’Neil’s blog. That being said, Curry has also acknowledged that he would welcome finding a new home, specifically back in his home state of North Carolina with the Panthers. And the beat goes on as does the trending on Twitter.

Here is why you need to take notice. Curry is an employee under contract with the Seattle Seahawks. He is engaging in real-time conversations with both people he knows and doesn’t know regarding his job on Twitter. He also openly agrees that he would be willing to find a new situation. This will undoubtedly continue. You have employees who have access to Twitter. They may not have the same high-profile as an NFL player, but they probably have an account and use it as a tool at some level.

  • What if they got on their Twitter account and started talking about their job?
  • What if they started openly soliciting their services to others?
  • What if they were unhappy and unlike Curry were willing to voice that displeasure?
  • How would you know it was happening?
  • How could you mitigate damage to your reputation?
  • Do you have a communications plan that includes the personal and professional use of Twitter?
  • How long are you willing to keep your head in the sand?

Here is the bottom line. If you don’t have a plan for dealing with social media and your business, you are going to be as obsolete as the iPhone 4 will be in about a week. Your employees can Tweet, Friend, Post, Blog, Like, Look, Poke, Prod and a whole bunch of other things all from the comfort of their office chair on their own personal phone. They can talk about you, your business, your clients, your prospects, and anything else they want. What have you done to protect yourself?

Here’s what you need to do. It’s painless and free.

  1. Create a social media plan for your organization. Do a little research and find out what the “hot” social media platforms are. I guarantee you that they are changing and shifting constantly. Start with Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google +, and You Tube first and then move on.
  2. The plan should identify potential perils, what you consider to be professional etiquette and expectations, professional reference during personal use, and disciplinary actions if violated.
  3. Engage your employees in the process. Have them craft it. If you cram it down their throats it will come across as threats and Big Brother-ish. If they are part of the solution, you may find that they do a better job of policing themselves!
  4. Find someone in your organization who will be responsible for monitoring social media platforms. This need not be a full-time job. You might just find someone who likes doing it, is good at it, and will watch out for your backside.
  5. Monitor and maintain. Once you start this process, make sure it stays relevant. Technology changes and so should your policy. review and update it every 3-6 months. Continually ask for feedback from your employees. Be consistent in discipline, but also reward for good behavior. Find ways to leverage social media for good, not evil.

Bonus. You may not be covered for claims arising out of social media issues. Your Commercial General Liability policy excludes coverage for personal and advertising injury arising out of “electronic board and chat rooms.” That’s social media platforms and your blog. You can find coverage through special policies and most professional liability policies. Your next step should be to contact your insurance broker and ask the simple question, “Am I covered for liability arising out of social media?” If it takes him or her longer than about 3 seconds to answer, you may have a problem.

Take note of what’s happening to employers around you (like the Seahawks) and how their employees (like Curry) can impact the organization and then look inward. You may need to work on your own game!

You may now return to your regularly scheduled day…

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

 

What Insurance Do You Need?

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I was speaking to a group of CEOs last week on the topic of risk management and insurance. A good question came from one of them that required a little too big of a list for the time allotted. I promised her a write-up on my blog. The question was, “How do we know what kind of insurances to be concerned about? Is there a list we can use?”

Your wish is my command as one genie once said…

This list is fairly exhaustive and certainly every policy here is not needed by every business. That being said, it acts as a good checklist to get you started:

  1. Commercial Property (including Business Income)
  2. Commercial General Liability
  3. Commercial Auto (including liability, medical payments, uninsured motorist, physical damage, and non-owned and hired auto…but that’s it)
  4. Workers Compensation (in WA State you get it through the state under labor & Industries)
  5. Commercial Umbrella
  6. Employment Practices Liability (you being sued by an employee)
  7. Employee Dishonesty Bond (an employee stealing from you) Read an interesting article in Puget Sound Business Journal on this from a Microsoft employee stealing from them
  8. Cyber Liability – This is the new hot policy. Very important – ask your agent!
  9. Professional Liability (aka Errors & Omissions)
  10. Liquor Liability
  11. Pollution Liability (perhaps including Underground Storage Tank if applicable)
  12. Inland Marine Floater (for unusual property items or instruments of communication and transportation)
  13. Fiduciary Liability
  14. ERISA Bond
  15. Products Liability (for those that can’t get it through the General Liability)
  16. Reputation Risk
  17. Motor Truck Cargo (if you haul goods owned by others)
  18. Aviation
  19. Flood & Earthquake (see Difference in Conditions – DIC policy)
  20. Key Person Life Insurance
  21. Group Medical (including Dental & Vision)
  22. Short and Long Term Disability for group or key people
  23. Long – Term Care for key employees

This is off the top of my head. There may be more specifically needed for certain industries. They often get lumped into Inland Marine. Like I said, you definitely don’t need them all. The question is – are there one or two that you don’t have, but need?

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Instinct

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Instinct.

Aaron Curry is a linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. Three years ago, he was drafted by the team with the #4 overall pick in the NFL Draft. This week, after 35 games started, he was benched in favor of a rookie taken in the 4th ROUND. Curry has it all. Physically, he’s a beast. He works hard and seems to be a team player. The one thing he lacks according to the experts is instinct. You can have all the talent in the world, but in the National Football League, if you can’t read plays, react quickly, and play with instinct, you’re just another guy.

Instinct is a skill not just required in sports. In business, you must “play” with instinct as well. Your gut feelings, your experiences, and your training will mold your instinct. In the end however, the speed and accuracy of your response and how you deal with challenging situations will ultimately determine whether you’re an All-Star or just another guy or gal.

This week’s quote –“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”
– Julia Child

Your Red Truck Plan

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Over the past several months, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dave Shapiro on a series of joint seminars. Dave is a guru on leadership and CEO development. One of the topics he talks about is “The Red Truck Plan.” Dave explains that if you or a key employee are carted off on that big, red truck, then who is in charge? Who knows the passwords? Who has the keys to the kingdom? How will your business respond and continue operations?

It’s a great question that for many business owners and executives means business resiliency and survival.

On Saturday night, my wife Barb went out with a girlfriend to see a movie. It was one that she knew I had no interest in, so she went and I stayed home with my mom (yes, I still live with my mother – or she lives with us!) and watched Romancing the Stone on Netflix. I enjoyed watching Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner slog through the jungles of Colombia in search of fortune. But, I digress…

As the evening came to a close, it was time to give my mother her evening medicine. I went to the place we keep it, opened up the tray, and realized that the next week’s medicines had not been distributed in their weekday holders. I had no idea what or how much to give her! I called Barb and caught her on the way to dessert with her pal. She already knew why I was calling and guided me through the process. Crisis averted.

Here’s the problem. I have no “red truck plan” for my mother’s medical care. All that vital information lies solely in Barb’s head. What if something had happened to her and that information was not readily available? Yes, I understand that if something terrible had happened to Barb, she would be the priority. But, think about it. Wouldn’t Mom also be a priority? Doesn’t she need her medicines to stay healthy and safe, even overnight? The answer of course, is yes.

Think of your business. If something terrible happens to you; or your person who keeps all the company passwords; or your CFO; or your best sales person; then what happens to that area of your business and what are the ramifications? Just because someone is no longer there (temporarily or permanently) doesn’t mean that other needs don’t need to be met.

My solution is writing down all Mom’s medicines in a secure and accessible space where I can always find them, if needed. Added to that will be making that available to other key “stakeholders,” like my children or neighbors, in case something happens to bot Barb and me at the same time (after all, we are together a lot).

Your solution may be similar. You may need to create redundancies, plans, and back up plans. Whatever those may be, now is the time to do them. BEFORE you open up your medicine tray and find it all empty and not knowing what to do, create your “red truck plan” and be ready to respond.

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

 

Extra Points – Inspirational Leadership

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Inspirational Leadership.

My wife Barb sends me (and I think my daughters) little quotes she finds every morning as a bit of inspiration. You will find one from last week listed below. These often come at a surprisingly appropriate time in my day. Perhaps a bit of serendipity, or a higher hand; regardless they are always appreciated.

Inspiration is often an overlooked quality of leadership. I’m in the beginning stages as a member of our school board in searching for a new superintendent. As we begin to list qualities we are looking for, I can’t help but think the ability to be inspiring should be near the top. This encompasses so much – skill in communications; empathy; humility; and vision.

Who did you inspire last week, whether in your personal or professional life? Maybe the better question is…who will you inspire this week and perhaps even today? In our fast-paced world of instant gratification, the “fruits” of our inspiration may not be readily apparent. However, it I can guarantee you that it’s always noticed by those receiving it.

Be inspiring today…

This week’s quote -“When one door closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us. ”
– Helen Keller

Categories: Extra Points Tags: ,

Crisis Response to Tragedy

September 16, 2011 Leave a comment

There was a terrible tragedy at a construction site in Seattle yesterday morning. A construction worker was killed on the job site Details are limited, but the reality is that a life was lost and it affects a great number of people ranging from family, friends, and co-workers.

Last month, when I was in Bogotá, Colombia at the Occupational Health and Safety Summit, I discussed how management’s response to crisis has a trickle-down effect on the entire organization. I have never been a part of an organization who has lost an employee, while at work. However, I can imagine the impact. Just a few months ago, a member of our Rotary Club and a friend died at his business from a massive heart attack. His employees tried to save him, to no avail. Now you have a crisis and the leader is gone.

These two examples lead me to pose some questions to you…

  1. How do you respond to a tragedy like a death of one of your employees? Who is in charge of reaching out to employees, family, and the media? Has this person (who now becomes the face of the business) been trained in speaking and able to empathetically respond to hard questions while emotions are high? This isn’t easy in any way and going out there cold without any training or practice can be overwhelming. Not only is it difficult for the spokesperson, the opportunity to not deliver a message that should be is high. The solution is simple. Whoever is designated the spokesperson for the organization needs to have at least some training in communications; how to deliver a message; be empathetic; and be able to deal with the media. This takes practice and role-playing and should not wait until the event happens. This type of “on the job” training is dangerous.
  2. What kind of services do you have ready for your employees. Grief and shock follow tragedies like this. What can you do to alleviate that grief, anxiety, and sadness? You can’t take it all away, but you can provide help to your people. Solution – be proactive. Have a name of a group or service that provides grief counseling and develop a relationship. You hope you will never have to use them, but the reality is at some level you might. If you already have a relationship, understand their role, and have them on call when you need them, the results will be quicker and better service for your employees, which leads to improved morale and a quicker return to work. That and you’ve helped them immeasurably deal with a terrible situation.
  3. What if it’s you? What if like my friend you are the one carted away in the big red truck? Who is in line to take your spot? These are important questions…do you have answers? I understand these aren’t “fun” topics to discuss, but the continuation of your business if you become disabled or unable to work either temporarily or permanently is important. Solution – Determine your plan of succession and communicate it. People need to know the world won’t implode if you’re not there. They need assurance and a plan. Make sure everyone is on the same page and then fund it with insurance so it doesn’t become a financial burden.

Unfortunately, tragedy at work happens. It just happened in a big way here in Seattle. Not being prepared as an organization to deal with it is negligent. Your employees, their families, the community, and your supply chain deserve it.

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved