Business Transformation – Popeye, Quick Fixes and Stomach Stapling

The past few weeks I’ve been blogging about pork products. So, in an effort to move to the healthier side of things I bring you…
Spinach! Well, spinach as a metaphor for quick fixes thanks to the dwarfish sailor with huge forearms, Popeye. You remember…”I’m Popeye the sailor man…toot toot!!!”
When there were problems or he had to beat up Brutus Blutarski, to save Olive Oil, he’d chug a can of the leafy energy vegetable and WHAM! POW! He’d make things right.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how we humans love to take the easy way out like Popeye. Overweight? No problem…get your stomach stapled. Need 6-pack abs? Strap a vibrator across your chest. You can eat all the pork products you want. In no time at all, that vibrating belt will transform your mid-section from a spare tire to a ripped grill.
Do you have business problems that keep you up at night? No worries. Use the “EASY” button as your get-out-of-jail-free card. You get an automatic do-over, at least that’s what the commercials would have you believe.

Have a failing business? No problem. Fire some of your workers.
It won’t hurt at all. Right? You’ll achieve immediate short-term results. Who cares? After all, you might think most of your people are lazy, complain too much, watch the clock, waste precious time and productivity by searching the Internet, right?
Jack Welch said it was critical to get rid of the bottom third (“C” people) in your organization. Heck, you may be thinking it’s time to churn your staff, like pro football teams churn the bottoms of their rosters.
Don’t worry. You have your own personal can of business owner “spinach.” Its the employees you choose to keep. You can dump the terminated employees’ work on your remaining workers. They’ll be happy to kick in, work those extra hours, see their families less, even take a pay cut…right? They’re “thrilled” to help, just to still have a paycheck these days.

We are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that these myopic, narrow-minded management decisions have had on America’s workforce. Four years of layoffs, down-sizing, right-sizing, re-engineering, and reductions in workforce have effectively beaten down the OVERWORKED, OVERSTRESSED, EMOTIONALLY DISENGAGED American workforce.
Those easy to implement short-term policies that were instilled in most American organizations have taken a huge negative toll on our workforce. I see it countless times in my work with job seekers. Many people who are still working are highly resentful of their employers. they are burned out, beaten up, and looking to leave. There isn’t an ocean of spinach large enough to fix the damage done, especially to the people who were out of work and have given up looking for jobs.
Workers are now even MORE motivated to leave and many are planning to do just that…quit your organization EVEN THOUGH the job market is so weak.

Now is the time for business owners, managers, and executives to start considering a path to implement really tough decisions to save their organizations.
NOW is the time to unleash their people’s full potential. The quick decisions that achieve drastic positive results are NOT going to be easy to make. For consideration, I present some strategies that I have been implementing with my clients:
* Treat your best clients like your employees: Ask them what you do that’s working for them. Ask them how you can improve. Take them to breakfast. Why not implement a “best customer” quarterly appreciation breakfast.
* Treat your employees like your best customers: It’s time to do what President Reagan said in his speech at Brandenburg gate in 1987: “Mr. Gorbachov, tear down these walls.” Remove the barriers that CONTROL your people. Let your employees determine your policies, procedures, systems and products.
* Ask your people to engage like never before: Ask your employees what you’re doing right and wrong! Let them design their workflows, schedules. Offer job-sharing, telecommuting. create a committee to develop an ongoing idea generation program to solicit the ideas from all of your people. Make their voices heard, and implement their suggestions.
* Fund a new business incubator program: Your best people are planning right now to leave you. Put aside money in your budget to fund their ideas, so they stay in your company and work on new products and services you can integrate into your offerings. Otherwise, they’re going to leave you to start their own business and do it themselves.
* Act like Mayor Ed Koch of New York City: He was famous for always asking: “How am I doing New York?” It’s time to have that conversation with your people. What do they like about you? What do they hate? What benefits do they want? Are you coaching, mentoring, rewarding, training, recognizing, and providing the resources they need?
* Make every goal a STRETCH goal: Every single employee goal should be a challenge. They should have to strive mightily towards achieving every goal. Meet with your people weekly to ensure they have what they need from you , in order to be a success. Celebrate failures where people take calculated risks to achieve tremendous results.
* Fail GREATLY: It’s not too late to change your business model, organizational structure, products and services, and your culture. There are no easy quick steps, or short-cuts in today’s global competitive climate. The quickest road to long-term success is to embrace failure as a learning endeavor.