Optimizing Strengths

Yesterday, I received this encouraging note from a friend of mine who is a very successful entrepreneur:

“Hi Robin, I just read your Eagle Attitude article and you are right on. I always make asset vs. liability calls. Recently one of my staff did considerable damage to our main computer and database by going to inappropriate places on the internet. Certainly grounds for firing, not too mention suing for damages. Instead we are reworking his job description to take advantage of some obvious talents. There are some penalties he is working through, but there should be some substantial benefit to the company long term. It’s nice to read that a risky decision is sometimes the best decision.”

That reminds me of the time I was a manager in a large, resort hotel and we learned that one of the staff members was secretly running his own little room service business inside the hotel. He diverted all the orders to his cousin’s café on the corner. The thing was that he gave excellent service and guests were delighted with the quality (that’s how we caught him – compliments from guests about dishes that weren’t on the room service menu!) So instead of firing him, we created a joint venture: we saved his salary, cut overhead substantially and continued to provide the service to our guest, while his own business flourished. Win/Win!

Savvy entrepreneurs look for ways to capitalize on the strengths and resources of their partners, associates, employees and vendors. They focus on what does work instead of what doesn’t work and, most importantly, keep their egos in check. Take the time to listen carefully and discover hidden assets like skills, connections, resources and information. Sometimes, opportunities take a little while to appear and options take time to become apparent. Patience and good communication skills, as well as being prepared to generously share the profits, are essential. Think outside the box and keep your eyes on your common goals. Be flexible and open to new ideas. Good people are hard to find.

Sales Tip

The better you know your salespeople, the better you can channel their energy, interests, skills and time. Don’t make the salesperson fit the job; rather, make the job fit the salesperson. Take time to listen to their opinions and suggestions, encourage sharing and reward innovation and risk.

Management Tip

By clearly defining the parameters of your employees’ jobs, you remove fear. Show them what they have to do to get fired, and you reduce any reticence to innovation. Fear stunts creativity and openness. People who feel secure will be more productive and honest with you. Spend more time developing relationship with your staff than you do with your customers.

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