Preparing for the Future, Part 2

L. Douglas Mault

September 2009

This is the second article dealing with preparing for the future. It covers techniques as well as some important characteristics of successful, forward-thinking owners and managers.

Self-Sufficiency, Idea-Generation and Participation
Since it is unlikely that you will be engaged with your employees every working minute of every day, it is important that they are empowered to work on their own, to come up with ideas and to participate in solving problems.

Achievement, Enthusiasm, Excitement and Teamwork
Create a working environment where the team and the organization achieve important goals and those achievements are recognized. The recognition may be monetary, or give a simple "good job.” The achievement and recognition will create enthusiasm and excitement and will abet the growth of teamwork.

Be Flexible and Adapt to Change
It is rare, as we mentioned in last month’s article, that things work out exactly as we planned. In fact, before you even near the goal, the work environment, policies, procedures, products, rules and regulations may change. A successful owner or manager takes these changes in stride and adapts with alternate plans and programs.

Win/Win Outcomes
Sell yourself and your ideas with truth, candor and facts. Point out that the goals of the organization and smaller units overarch individual goals. Your colleagues and employees realize that working in concert toward a common goal is a win for all involved.

Be Decisive
No matter the process by which you reach the decision point, once that point is reached, a decision must be made. Another Mault Maxim of Management: "Good decisions, unlike good wine, do not improve with age.” When the time comes, make the decision and start working on success.

Be Consistent in Actions and Words
At one time or another, most every one of us has worked for the unpredictable boss. His moods change for unfathomable reasons, and he vents on subordinates. Or, a transgression of policy or procedure earns a mild reprimand one day or for one employee, and the same transgression earns a tirade on another day or for a different employee. Don’t be that person. You don’t have to be loved or liked, but you should strive to be respected.

Motivator, Teacher and Trainer
These are the additional roles of a successful owner or executive. There are times for pep talks and they can be quite effective, but they have short half-lives. In many ways the steps outlined in this and the previous article will provide real and long-lasting motivation. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with ignorance (a word with a negative connotation), but it really means "I don’t know.” If someone is ignorant, that’s the time and the opportunity for you to teach him so he does know. It may take some patience on your part, and you may have to not only transfer the intellectual knowledge but train the person as well. That’s your job; but if he fails to learn or refuses to learn, then you must take appropriate personnel steps.

L. Douglas Mault is president of Executive Advisory Institute, Portland, Ore. The Web site is www.consulteai.com; he can be reached at (888) 428.3331.