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The Enemy Within Your Walls

December 16, 2016 Leave a comment

He is ready to fight for success

This past week, Wake Forest University had to deal with a very unsettling matter. It was revealed that a former assistant football coach turned team radio analyst for the Demon Deacons football program was found to have passed on game plan information from his team (provided to him as part of his job in preparing for games) to opposing teams prior to games.

Let’s make it clear. This guy (for ease of the example) was an assistant coach for the Wake Forest football team. When a coaching change was made, he was not retained as the new head coach brought his own team of assistants with him. This guy was a Wake Forest supporter through and through, seemingly accepted his fate, and then immediately was brought on to the team as the color commentator for the games. Unbeknownst to many, this is akin to be a member of the team. He has access to practices, gets private information on game plans, and is trusted with this material.

After a game against Louisville, it was discovered that game plans had been distributed to Louisville prior to the game. Further investigation found it wasn’t an isolated incident. Long story, short, This guy was implicated and fired. We still don’t know the reasons for this betrayal, but let’s just guess.

Here’s This guy that was terminated. He was allowed to stay in the program because he was deemed “loyal.” Turns out he harbors a grudge and gets on the inside to sell team secrets to opponents. Who knows how long this would have continued if This guy hadn’t been caught.

I know this isn’t national security stuff, but let’s not minimize that these are organizations that employ people. These people keep their positions based on wins and losses. Families are impacted; students are impacted; and the university is impacted. I’ve worked with many small and mid-size businesses that have had similar issues. In fact one small painting business – about 15 employees – had their bookkeeper (acting with CFO functions) steal $25,000 over a 3 year period and used that money to fund her wedding! My client said, “I would have never imagined she would do this.” No kidding! If he had, she wouldn’t have been working there. Problem was, she had done this to a previous employer and my client had not checked references prior. (Yes. She listed the company she stole from. You can’t make this up.)

My question to you is this – could this happen to you?!

The answer is YES. It can and may be to some of you reading this now. While you can’t prevent this in totality, you can greatly minimize the risk to it. Here are three things to consider:

  1. If you terminate someone – or they leave on their own accord, like retirement – the escort them out the door nicely. Do not let them leave with anything that is yours. Cancel their log-in information.
  2. Take care of your client list and proprietary information. That means check their phones for addresses and other important information. If you don’t know how this works, call me and we can discuss.
  3. Be aware of anything that can harm you, including social media.

Bottom line – terminated and disgruntled employees can cause great harm to your company. It happens all the time, yet we rarely hear of it when it happens to small businesses. Protect yourself with a resilience plan that includes this very important issue.

You just may then be able to assure that your “game plan” is safe and secure from This Guy in your own house.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Podcast Interview on Business Growth

November 2, 2016 Leave a comment

podcast-page-option-3-1I was thrilled to be recently interviewed by Shawn Casemore for his “The Growth Inspired” podcast.

LINK to listen

Our topic was how to build a strong team that supports growth and create a strategy around resilience management.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Learn more about Dan, his background and his work
  • Dan’s ‘secret sauce’ to business growth – there are 3 areas
  • Why is resiliency so important to a business?
  • Why you need to grow profitably
  • Dan’s tips you should look into to grow your business

Enjoy and be unleashed!

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Why You Hate Your Boss

September 8, 2016 Leave a comment

20 Under 40 20_3This is the second of a three-part series for my Kitsap Sun business column…

This is the second of a three-part series on running a family business profitably and equitably. Over the past 27 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of family businesses. Even though the industries differ, the challenges surrounding them are very common. In the next two columns, I will draw attention to the three most critical topics that all family businesses need to address for both profitability and family bliss.

So you work for “the man,” do you? Or maybe, “the woman?”

So much of our popular culture revolves around the conceptualization of the persecuted and overburdened employee who works for a horrible boss and uncaring business. A modern day Willy Loman character that is doomed to a dreadful employment while the boss lives a carefree existence carousing on their yacht and mansion.

When it comes to small family businesses, the true picture is often very different.

I find that a very high number of business owners fled one horrible boss for an even worse boss…themselves! So many of you — yes, you — have started or inherited family businesses and find yourselves being treated more contemptibly than you’d accept from any other employer.

Let’s do a quick check:

Do you start work at 6 a.m. and then stop at about 8 p.m. (or later)?

Do you take fewer vacation days than your employees?

Do you accept and return work calls and email until you go to bed?

Do you go to work sick, even when you’d not allow employees to do the same?

Do you fear leaving your business unattended by you for more than a week? So much so that you constantly are checking in when you’re away?

Do you hate your boss?

Let’s be clear. I’ve seen all of these iterations in small family-run businesses over the past 27 years. I’ve heard all the usual excuses:

“I have to make sure the work is done to the company standard…”

“No, I really thrive when working in chaos for 12 hours a day…”

“I have to set a good example of work ethic or else nobody would work hard…”

“I’m not a micro-manager; it’s just that I need to know everything that goes on in my business…”

“My employees feel empowered when I’m always around. They hate it when I’m gone…”

“Oh, I’m only being controlling until (fill in the blank)…”

I could go on for the entire column. In fact, you may have others to share, especially if you are employed at a family business!

Here’s the stark reality of the situation — if you own and operate a small family business and can’t walk away for two months without touching it, then you don’t have a business, you have a job! In my experience, entrepreneurs start their businesses not to have a job, but to create jobs; create value; do what they love; and eventually sell that business to fund the rest of their lives. If you work yourself to the bone and create a condition where you’re always stressed out, burned out, and dreading your work, you may not have a much of a life left to enjoy.

The answer is to stop hating your boss. Here’s my five-step process to doing that quickly:

1. Empower your employees: That means train and then trust them. They want autonomy and the permission to fail and learn. That means delegate things that you shouldn’t be doing anymore. It means that you must create a culture and operation where you’re working yourself out of a “job!”

2. Take time off: Force yourself to take vacation time. You can still make yourself accessible in the event of an emergency, but in most cases it won’t happen. Your life balance requires relaxation and recharge. Take it.

3. Give yourself a break: Too many CEOs by their own actions seem to require perfection in themselves. If you do that, stop. You don’t require perfection from employees (and if you do, stop that, too). Allow yourself to be human, to make mistakes, and to be resilient. By doing this, you’ll alleviate stress and anxiety in yourself and your employees.

4. Ferociously guard your time: I cover this in my book, Unleashed Leadership. Learn how to prioritize by triaging what is urgent, important, and normal. The bulk of the time will actually be spent on the last one. Your time is extremely valuable. Save it for what only you can do and what you want to do.

5. Commit to having fun: That’s right. You can have fun. What does this look like? For the savvy CEO of a small family business it looks like actually enjoying what you do and manifesting it through your self-talk, your behavior, and your leadership. You must have a passion for your product or service; must enjoy people; must be a lifelong learner; must be a risk-taker; and must be an encourager. You must be able to reward and forgive yourself; seek out new challenges; create and innovate; and be a positive influence in your company.

People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses. You’re stuck with yourself. You’d better come to a lifelong “employment agreement” where you wouldn’t even dream of working for anyone else.

Next month, Part 3: Dysfunction junction — What’s your function?

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

What’s My Lie?

August 18, 2016 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40It looks like the story of the four U.S. swimmers being robbed is a fabrication. If that is clarified, it takes on the impact on the grand scale of former NBC news anchor Brian Williams and his expansion of the truth dealing with his involvement with enemy fire in the Middle East. Believe me, the new “enemy fire” will be aimed right at these four swimmers and will haunt them for years, if not their entire lives.

This morning’s NY Times story – read here – is shedding light on what really happened a few nights ago in Río de Janiero.Ryan Lochte is the most well known of the quartet of athletes and he served as the poster boy for the media. His tale is all about having a gun pointed to their heads and fearing that they wouldn’t make it out alive. Well, he made it back to the United States before his buddies, who were unceremoniously dragged off the plan by Brazilian authorities for more questioning.

You can read the entire story for yourself. Suffice it to say, there appears to be some monkey business going on. This “tall tale” looks like it’s been invented to cover up for some misdeeds committed after the swimming competition was over, and the Americans shone as one of the brightest stars.

How does this affect you?

As a business leader (owner, manager, executive), you deal with people all the time that have reason to be untruthful. Your biggest concern should be with your employees. While I believe you should begin any relationship like this as trusting, you need to be vigilant on what the truth is becasue it affects your company. While you may never get into fabrications as large as this one, small white lies can cost you money. They can range from untrue resumes, explaining why someone is consistently late to work, to thievery (I have one client that had $25,000 stolen over time from their bookkeeper).

You also have an obligation not to be untruthful with employees. There’s ample opportunity to withhold information or stretch the truth for your own purposes.

Look, the bottom line comes down to trust and transparency. This incident is going to have serious ramifications on the swimming program and the United States. Lying is most often used to cover up something that is awkward, unpleasant, or embarrassing. If we are honest, at some point in our lives we have all been guilty to some extent. However, creating a culture of playing for each other (as outlined in my book Unleashed Leadership), will prevent the really embarrassing and potentially damaging consequences for you and your business.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Family Matters: Part 1 – The Corporate Conundrum

August 17, 2016 Leave a comment

20 Under 40 20_3This is the first of a three-part series on running a family business profitably and equitably. Over the past 27 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of family businesses. Even though the industries differ, the challenges surrounding them are very common. In the next three columns, I will draw attention to the three most critical topics that all family businesses need to address for both profitability and family bliss.

Corporations use boardrooms to create initiatives, develop strategies and settle disputes (among other things). Family businesses frequently use kitchen tables, backyard decks and hospital waiting rooms to do all of those, including determining perpetuation and ownership. The biggest problem I’ve encountered in working with countless family businesses — regardless of success level — is that they don’t treat themselves as a corporation, but rather an amalgamation of family members that all have an interest (and often an agenda) for the family business. Without a process and culture of a corporation, at its best it’s adequate, but not as efficient as it could be. At its worst, it’s a dreadful comedy of errors that merges the Corleone family and Modern Family.

Family businesses are typically founded by someone with skill and passion around a service product and the courage of entrepreneurship. At certain points in the life cycle of the business, spouses, children, siblings and in-laws are inserted into the mix. Frankly, that’s one of the ways that this country has grown and prospered. The problem is that, unlike major corporations that require it, the process of developing and implementing “rules of engagement” around succession, company shares, employment, and individual rights gets tossed to the back of the priority list. They tend to rear their ugly heads at the worst possible moments, leaving the family members scratching theirs.

So without belaboring this issue any further, allow me to dive into ways that any family business can rapidly improve the easily fragile dynamics of their business. It simply falls under the heading of “going corporate.”

Far too many family businesses treat the business — and each other — like family. That’s fine for the Thanksgiving gathering but not for the non-family member employees, the customers, and the partners. Here are my Seven Simple Rules for Converting From Family to Company:

1.    The CEO rules. In any corporation, there is a boss: the CEO. Your family business requires a boss. It’s where the proverbial “buck stops.” It’s the final say; the vision; the voice. It might also be the father, brother, sister, son or daughter. Everyone must disengage the familial relationship and respect the position and person in charge.

2.    Family members must get a job. The best dynamics I’ve seen are when family members must get a job outside before being eligible to join the family business. This improves diversity of thinking; reduces entitlement; accelerates skill development; and improves profitability.

3.    Create a clear path for perpetuation. This is all about “inheritance.” There must be clarity around succession. Having this conversation in the midst of a crisis hurts the entire company. Because this can often be an emotional and difficult conversation, I recommend hiring a facilitator to help with the process.

4.    Never talk about the family outside of the family. Don Corleone made this clear in his family business; you should, too. None of the employees care about the family dynamics. In fact, it makes them uncomfortable. Someone should be able to walk into a business and not be able to identify that it has multiple family members.

5.    No perks allowed. My wife worked for a family-owned bank 30 years ago. She recalled to me the founder/chairman’s wife being incensed when her adult son was properly charged overdraft fees, and then insisted they be waived. I’m pretty sure that advocacy was never passed on to the other customers. While this example sounds extreme, what seemingly unobtrusive perks are taken in a family business that can lead to discontent from employees or customers?

6.    Preparation for the separation. Ever see the founder “retire” but keep coming back and giving “suggestions?” The irony is often the successor to the patriarch takes the company to greater heights! There must be corporate rules about interference from retired family members, regardless of what their role was. The company must prepare and set policy on this and then communicate it.

7.    Perfect the balancing act. As much as “going corporate” relates directly to the business environment, likewise it pertains to family time. There should be a clear delineation and rules about what is appropriate in family gatherings. Just like employees don’t want to hear about your family issues, family members not involved in the business don’t care to hear about the business. In addition, everyone needs a break from the business to secure a strong life balance. Employees get to do it; so should you.

Bonus: You can still enjoy a “family atmosphere” by acting like a corporation. In fact, it’s more likely to be achieved that way!

It doesn’t matter if you’re five or 50 employees in a family business. Do yourself, your employees and your profitability a favor by acting like a corporation. You might be amazed at the results of reduced drama, increased engagement, less strife, improved employee morale, and more enjoyable family gatherings. Owning a family business is a wonderful thing as long as its shadow doesn’t own you.

Next month: Family Matters, Part 2: Why you hate your boss

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved

Dangers to 2nd/3rd Gen Family Biz

August 5, 2016 Leave a comment

20 Under 40 20_3I was just interviewed for a newspaper article on the topic of the dangers to 2nd and 3rd generation family small businesses. The question was – What characteristics or temperament does a second- or third-generation small-business owner need to survive? What challenges do they face?

Allow me to share my response with all of you…

  1. Must have worked somewhere outside the family business before coming back. Diversity, different ideas, and making it somewhere outside the family circle will all bring a perspective and depth of business acumen that often is lacking in family that never “leave the nest.”
  2. Must be able to effectively create a transition point from past to present. This includes past generations of family that at what time were the bosses, AND importantly the employees that have spanned generations. There needs to be clear messaging on who’s in charge.
  3. Must be a strong communicator and influencer.
  4. Must be able to separate family from business. I call it the “Godfather” trait. It’s not personal; it’s business. Not allowing family members to feel entitled, or allow them to not do good work is critical to creating a string employee culture and business reputation.
  5. Find expert help. Consultants, coaches, mentors, mastermind groups, executive groups, and associations all can provide help to avoid stagnation in thinking and ideas.

 

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Just Doing It

August 4, 2016 Leave a comment

TWoodsNike just announced that they are dumping their golf product line, which means no more manufacturing of golf balls, bags, or equipment. This has stunned the golf world, especially the tour players that are under contract for them. The three biggest names that featured the equipment and the swoosh are Michelle Wie, former World #1 Rory McIlroy, and of course, the once invincible Tiger Woods. Heck, Nike even named a building on the campus after Tiger.

The fallout has created confusion among the profile athletes in the golf world, and unfortunately has cost many Nike employees that were representative of Nike Golf, their jobs. As an avid golfer – and actually a guy that plays Nike golf balls, sports a Nike golf bag, and hits a Nike driver and hybrid – I have been more than intrigued and fascinated by this sudden and unexpected turn in events. In the process of learning more, I believe there is a lesson here for small and medium size enterprises and the CEOs and Presidents that run those companies.

The golf industry is highly competitive. Nike was much more significant when Tiger was prowling in his decade long run as arguably the greatest golfer ever. However, He now has nearly a 10-year drought in winning a major championship, hasn’t won any tournament in three years, and hasn’t played due to injury in one year. Rory McIlroy hasn’t won a major since 2014 and Michelle Wie has been under-performing for over a year. This doesn’t help the brand and even though it sounds like they make a lot of money from golf, Nike has been hitting out of hazards over the last several years.

Their decision and verbiage on the press release is telling. They state that, “We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel…” Basically, the golf equipment game was a risk they were willing to take when they had the biggest name in golf. Without him, it began not making economic sense. So they decided to “just do” what they do best. According to Trevor Edwards, president of Nike Brand. “We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf.”

They will focus on what they do best…

I talk to my clients all the time about their value proposition. The value proposition defines what you do best and how you improve the condition of others. Be it product or service, what is the one thing that you excel in? What are you the undisputed leader in doing?

Many small and medium size businesses will take forays into new ideas, new products, and new services. Innovation is great and I endorse that type of thinking. However, it better still be around your value proposition. It should still feed into what you do best. If it doesn’t, you may find that you lose a lot of time and money.

If you want to profitably grow your business, determine what you do and do more of it in a myriad of ways. Dump products or services that no longer work or showcase your value. Nike realized that the run was over. It truly ended being artificial because it was fueled by one profoundly valuable asset in Woods. Without him, they are just another “name” in the game, and well down the list. In their eyes, their value is in clothing and footwear.

Take a few minutes and look at your business. Are all your efforts focused on your value proposition and being an undisputed leader in your field or industry? Or, are you still dabbling in things that distract, confuse, or lose money? It’s better that you stay in your own fairway by improving your strengths and building a profitable and fun business.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved