Walking the Talk

October 15, 2011

Okay. I have a confession to make. I’ve been guilty of what I accuse my clients of… ‘thinking about’ but not ‘acting’ on changes I need to make. No, it’s not about my weight, but my use of social media tools. Yes, I’ve started to ‘look’ but I haven’t ‘leaped’. So after thinking about my mindset, I figured out my reluctance wasn’t for all the ‘valid’ reasons I had but more because it was like moving to another planet. I’m pretty savvy when it
comes to computers but something about this ‘social media thing’ felt different than when it came time to learn other computer tools. I think it was because I identified it with ‘the young crowd’ and felt it wasn’t something ‘an old professional guy’ should be doing. How’s that for being nuts? Well, I’m human too!

To add insult to injury, I also realized that I had to set a good example for my clients; so, I decided to follow the advice in my book (below) and change my MINDSET!  I am arranging for a ‘young’ tech savvy social media guru and having her walk me, step-by-step, through the while “social media’ process (this blog is my first venture into that realm). I expect her to enable me to actually DO all the things I should/could be doing to take advantage of the technology… using ‘best practices’ to avoid missing opportunities, and wasted effort. I’m particularly interested in it more for my book than for my consulting practice because I do want to reach ‘the world’ with my book but not necessarily so for my consulting.

My main issue with social media (e.g. LinkedIn) is that I don’t want to share my contact base because every potential vendor would love to get ‘connected’ with my hard-earned contact base. I know there are some controls but I’m not 100% comfortable they will provide the level of security/control that I need and even experts have told me my concerns are not unfounded. So, I’ll proceed cautiously and limit my involvement to my book – even using a separate email account and such. I will NOT invite all my contacts to this account so as to have them ‘private’.

I’m sure that many of you can teach me more about this subject and I welcome your feedback. I hope you will take a look deep into your mindset and see what is holding you back from using the tools (whether computer related, systems changes, or people changes) to achieve your goals. We are the ones who hold the key to unlocking our potential and sometimes don’t realize it.

Wow!  I feel better already. Thanks for listening 🙂

If you want to learn more about how to set yourself free, take a look at my new book, Set Yourself Free – How
to Have A Thriving Small Business… And Enjoy It!
because you do have choices.

Feel free to call me at 518.369.7101 or email me at: stan@fambizdoc.com

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Personality… You’ve got it! So what?

October 3, 2011

That old song, Personality (1959), by Lloyd Price sure gets my feet moving and the words say it all. However, he wasn’t talking about just personality. Yet, isn’t that what we are looking for in the ideal employee … the right personality traits?

Some say, “Hire for personality traits because you can teach skill sets” (assuming that person possesses the aptitude to learn those traits with proper training). I agree with the underlying basis of that statement yet many employers do little to assess those personality traits in candidates before hiring other than to guess from interviews. Even with several people interviewing a particular candidate, there is much room for bias, poor questioning, and poor listening by interviewers. And then there’s a candidate who can ‘play the personality’ during the interview and seemingly provide the right answers. Worse yet, many interviewers are looking for someone ‘just like themselves’ when what they really need (for the best fit) is someone who is NOT like them.

Hiring the wrong people for the job (or good people who belong in a different role) is very common and the cost is much higher than most employers realize… because the cost is not just ‘wasted salary’ but the ‘opportunity cost’.

If you would like to learn more about this subject, and avoid falling into this trap, check out my new book, Set Yourself Free – How
to Have A Thriving Small Business… And Enjoy It!

I’ve taken some very complex subject matter suited to psychologists and philosophers and presented it in a practical and understandable format. You may not become an expert but you’ll surely have a working understanding that can be put to use immediately.

I hope you will take a moment to read more about it. Feel free to call me at 518.369.7101 or email me.


I Can’t Get Good Help!

August 15, 2011

Who hasn’t felt the need to cry out that phrase? I was on the golf course last week when I was put into a group that included a young man (late 20s perhaps) who said he served in a military ‘special ops’ group for 4 years. He also said he owns two businesses and ‘loved his life’. He made it a point to let us know how he was ‘retired’ as a result of being shot in the neck and having suffered damage to his spinal system.  Since his golf
score was 76 (after a rough start in the front 9) and he had the physique and ego of a ‘special ops’ guy, I figured his injury didn’t have an adverse effect on his golf handicap.

His demeanor during the round seemed to center around letting me know how well his two businesses were doing UNTIL he took a call on his cell phone and all that ‘life is great’ rhetoric unraveled. Within seconds, he starts to blurt out “You just can’t get good people…with half a brain,” I’ll spare you the rest of the story except to say you can probably fill in the blanks unless you’ve been very lucky or are making all the right moves to select and develop your staff.

Not recruiting (which is ONLY scouting—not hiring) on an ongoing basis AND not using all the tools available,  coupled with less than stellar interviewing skills, are among the main reasons why this complaint is a plague for small business owners and managers.  As well, a lack of ongoing training and development programs is sure to create a situation that will ‘trap’ you. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim. Take steps now to address these areas while it may not be a problem. Proactive effort in this area ALWAYS pays dividends.

To avoid being trapped like this, you may want to learn more about it in my new book, Set Yourself Free – How to Have A Thriving Small Business… And Enjoy It! because you do have choices and there is an effective process to get out of this dilemma.

I hope you will take a moment to read more about it. Feel free to call me at 518.369.7101 or email me at: stan@fambizdoc.com

NEW NEWS:  The Kindle version of the book is now available at Amazon.com ($9.99).


Drama… Small Businesses Should Have An Emmy Award!

July 23, 2011

I know this may come as no surprise, but the amount of ‘drama’ one can find in even the smallest of small businesses would put most soap operas to shame!  It never ceases to amaze me how much ‘stuff’ becomes the subject of internal conflict and other dynamics which have one common result… NO GOOD. While there is a place for constructive conflict, there is no room for the kind of drama that comes from such things as poor communication, hidden agendas, egos run amuck, employees on a power trip, owners/managers who are either permissive or abusive towards
employees and poorly selected and lead employees (or owners). Be assured this is not an exhaustive list because the reasons are only as limited as the imagination and personalities of the participants. The number of possibilities becomes endless when you add the component of ‘family dynamics’ to the equation!

Small business owners (SBOs) pull their hair out (if any is left) because it’s one of the most common causes of mental fatigue in their lives and often makes them feel more like therapists than entrepreneurs. As many SBOs have said to me (indirectly if not directly), “I’d love owning my business if I didn’t have to deal with employees.” The sad truth is that ‘dealing with employees’ is part of that responsibility and when that becomes a ‘nightmare’ it is usually a sign of leadership gaps – which includes ‘getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off… as noted by Jim Collins in his book, Good To Great. Another common mistake I see is keeping the wrong people on the bus far too long and
not having a recruiting program that gives you choices to bring the right people on the bus.

Many SBOs and their managers don’t realize they are ‘beating a dead horse’; i.e. trying to change people who have neither the capacity to perform nor the desire to behave in a productive manner. Terri Kabachnick, author of ‘I Quit But Forgot To Tell You, describes the ‘disengaged employee’ who is not unlike a zombie; i.e. you can see them moving about but they are not really ‘there’ at the same time. These folks take up space, contribute little… and often get away with it.

If you feel trapped by people like this, then you may want to learn more about it in my new book, Set Yourself Free – How to Have A Thriving Small Business… And Enjoy It! because you do have choices and there is an effective process to get out of this dilemma.

I hope you will take a moment to read more about it. Feel free to call me at 518.369.7101 or email me at: stan@fambizdoc.com


Are Things Slipping Through the Cracks?

June 27, 2011

If you’re like most small business owners I’ve worked with, you probably find yourself wondering how it is that no matter what you say or do to clearly communicate, motivate and reward people, there is always someone who ‘drops the ball’. Oftentimes, the common REACTION is to consider such ‘bad behavior’  as either intentional, or simply unintentional neglect, oversight, or  just attitudinal.

In fact those might be the cause; however, my experience is that the most common reason is SYSTEMIC. In other words, the people don’t have the right systems in place or don’t use them – to avoid such ‘slippage’.  W. Edwards Deming, noted international consultant, made this point by saying “… the fault lies not within the people, but in the systems they use.”

This is not to excuse people from the responsibility of their assigned duties, but it helps us to focus on what is usually the ‘cure’ to most
‘slippage’ situations I have seen. Oftentimes, ‘lack of training’ is a part of the ‘system’ that is missing. Likewise it may be the lack of ‘reminder’
systems; e.g. something as simple as a calendaring or contact management system… or the failure to use it!

All that being said, I believe the root cause begins with the mindset of the owner and/or the individual who is allowing things to slip.  I was once given a lesson by a former boss (who eventually made me his partner) that “People do what you INspect… not what
you EXpect.” At first I thought he meant I had to micromanage everything I delegated. What he meant was that there is a combination of things needed to avoid things slipping through the cracks: mindset, processes and systems.

So I always recommend that everyone adopt the concept of ‘delegation’ (still owning the responsibility for the outcome) as compared to ‘relegation’ (washing your hands TOTALLY of it). Equally important, make sure you have a system in place that will provide periodic ‘follow up’ and/or feedback. This is especially true when you are working with someone with whom you have not had a lot of experience. No sense learning the hard way!

You can learn more about this (especially in the section dealing with personality types) in my book, Set Yourself Free – How to Have A Thriving Small Business… And Enjoy It! because personality type is also part of the ‘human system’ that you need to work with.

If you want to learn more about this subject, I hope you will take feel free to call me at 518.369.7101 or email me at: stan@fambizdoc.com


Taking the Guesswork Out of Sizing Up Employee Candidates

June 13, 2011

“Getting the right people on the bus” (from Good to Great by Jim Collins) is one of the toughest jobs small business owners have. Sadly few owners are familiar with a valuable tool that helps remove much of the guess work of knowing the ‘natural personality makeup’ of candidates. Some owners think they have a knack for figuring out what type of person they are interviewing (driver, amiable… and the many labels described in the various personality profiles). While they may be close, they get ‘no cigar’ because it’s far more complex than that if you really want to make an intelligent choice among two or more qualified candidates.

The purpose of this brief blog isn’t to teach you all there is to know about ‘personality profile’ tools (manual and electronic/online) but rather to make sure you know how beneficial they can be in helping you to AVOID bad choices. Too often we (unknowingly) favor a particular candidate for purely emotional reasons and we overlook (negative) traits that are evident during the  interview. Worse yet, we overlook traits that we can’t spot during the interview/assessment process. That’s a kiss of death. Even worse is NOT hiring a candidate that we incorrectly assess. For example, we might take ‘directness and a little assertiveness’ as AGGRESSIVENESS simply due to the situation or the type of question posed… or a myriad of causes. Yet the candidate was actually the right one if we understood his/her makeup more accurately.

Simply put, it takes a lot more inquiry and observation than most interviews will allow to truly figure out a candidate’s personality type. Yet, there is ample evidence that personality makeup can impact how well one will succeed in a particular role and in a particular environment. So, why do it ‘blind folded’ when there are many legally-validated tools to help nail down that one element in the selection process.

To learn more about this, you can read about some of the most common personality types and some popular profile tests in my new book (below). You can also do a web search just using ‘personality profile tests’ as the key word(s).

Some small business owners don’t want to spend the money or take the time to familiarize themselves with this concept and the tools for such. Their inaction stems from one or more factors; e.g. 1) fear of the unknown;  2) penny-wise/pound foolish cost-savings attitude; 3) skepticism about the validity of these tools and whatever!

Their mindset about this subject could make a huge difference in unlocking the full potential of their business. As I say in my book, Set Yourself Free – How to Have A Thriving Small Business… And Enjoy It!, you must be ‘open to discovery’ and learn from experience (even if you’re certain it’s a predictable failure!) so long as you are not betting the ranch.  I call it a ‘calculated risk’ – not suicide.

I hope you will take a moment to read more about it. Feel free to call me at 518.369.7101 or email me at: stan@fambizdoc.com


What Dinosaurs Could Have Learned From Us…

June 6, 2011

I remember seeing a cartoon many years ago depicting two HUGE dinosaurs (like there were ever any small ones?) looking at each other  dumbfounded. The caption at the bottom said, “If dinosaurs could have communicated, they would have ruled the world!”

I’m sure we all know the feeling of what happens when we fail to communicate properly… not unlike a bunch of huge dinosaurs or bulls in a china shop. No doubt you had that experience using our wonderful email technology… an accident waiting to happen on each press of the SEND button!

I cannot but shake my head in bewilderment each time I see (and have sent!) an email in lieu of just getting some exercise by picking up the phone. They say that act (of picking up the phone) does wonders for your forearms, shoulders and jaw muscles…

If I were to give any lessons on improving communication in viewing the ‘drama’ that is created by the use of technology, it surely would have to be the use of email to communicate about sensitive matters in lieu of picking up the phone. You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that most times it’s simply a lack of courage to confront the issues in a 2-way manner.

It’s so easy (and habit forming) to haul off a strong message that you would probably never say on the phone and surely in person. And if you would, it probably would be posed in a much softer manner.

Being known as a rather ‘direct’ conversationalist, you can take the above from me as a confession – and they tell me ‘confession is good for the soul and may get me redemption. I suspect I’ll be waiting a long time for such at the rate I’m going. So learn from my experiences as an observer of other sinners… and myself!

Your mindset about this subject could make a huge difference in unlocking the full potential of your business as I say in my book, Set Yourself Free – How to Have A Thriving Small Business… And Enjoy It.

I hope you will take a moment to read more about it. Feel free to call me at 518.369.7101 or email me at: stan@fambizdoc.com