Business blog series… blog#2

A great book for business leaders is The CEO Next Door. In the book the author describes the characteristics of folks that have made it to the top of the corporate food chain as CEO of the company.

Of the many characteristics discussed the one that stuck with me the most, is that an effective leader helps people reach their full potential.

But first things first. My mind began to rumble with the following issues… When you’re hiring how do you even know if qualified candidates fit the energy of your company? And once you trust your gut to hire the candidate; how can you determine they’re a good fit to be groomed for mentorship to reach that “full potential.”

In my years of managing people, one of the things that you can do to set your search engine to filter, is by giving the potential candidates looking to move up within the hierarchy of the organization tasks to complete.

Time after time, if you give each person enough opportunities, the cream will certainly rise to the top. Do not give meaningless tasks. Everything should count fair and square. With your focus always being transfixed on bettering your customer service and reducing defects for the consumer of your product. Thus, give the employee a task and deadline to complete the project.

And of course simply completing a project is just the beginning.

Do they complete the project with purpose? Do they complete the task in a manner that makes the business better, and fulfills the customer’s need? Is the work sloppy or is the work timely and on point? Thus, as the leader — your job is constantly to be the teacher. Grading out their work. Asking yourself constantly is this bad work, good work, above average, or great? Is this a bad idea, good idea, above average idea, or great idea?

As a mentor and servant leader you hope that they take your knowledge and push forward with their own ideas and fight for the causes that make them wake up early in the morning. All the while, you keep feeding them with your history and understanding of how things work and operate in the marketplace. Understanding that as you help them, they help both you and the customer.

In summary, servant leaders pass on the knowledge to those that are able to retain the knowledge, work hard and complete tasks in a timely manner. These folks are the type of people that push the needle forward to create better products and customer satisfaction for the consumer of the goods that your business offers.

Thus, to keep your business thriving.. you must Keep fighting for your customers business , keep serving the customer as you best know how, and keep sharing the knowledge with your employees that have ears that listen!

Sam Blakemore is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn

Business blog series — blog #1

February 2016 I wrote an email to Tony Hsieh who at the time was the CEO of Zappos. I read articles and viewed videos where he discussed his philosophies on business and the management of people while completing my studies for my MBA.

Of the topics he discussed, The Quit Now Bonus fascinated me the most. The idea was that you would give employees an incentive to quit immediately if they felt as though they were trapped or in search of professional opportunities elsewhere.

From a business perspective this killed two birds with one stone. The business would relinquish an employee that no longer wanted to work at the company on good terms with a bonus payment to help them transition to the next phase of their professional life.

From the employees perspective, you couldn’t blame the employer for not giving you an out. And from the employer’s perspective — they couldn’t be seen as trapping you in a contract that you couldn’t get out of. In effect, employers would be helping the employee secure opportunities elsewhere — perhaps even in another state or country by giving you a “quit bonus”.

Thus, from the very beginning, if you took a job at Zappos, there was an unspoken understanding that the relationship was built on the terms of mutual benefit.

Employees would be compensated at a fair wage and benefits and the employer had expectations that you would provide excellent performance and service. If at any point there was a breakdown in trust, and the employee felt they needed to move on professionally, you would give them the incentive to leave immediately rather than languish on with poor performance.

I never expected an email back from Tony, but I wanted to leave him a note thanking him for his efforts. He was letting his ideas become openly shared for public consumption. Which isn’t the easiest thing to do. And because of his ideas and efforts, he was making the lives of business leaders that much more easy by rendering us pieces of his “playbook” on how to manage people.

The toughest thing that you can do in any business is the management of people. Building a motivated workforce that can meet the daily demands of customers while providing excellent communication and customer service is difficult. And, I felt that Tony was running a business in which he understood that building a happy workforce that did not feel trapped or constrained was a key ingredient in building a successful brand and therefore a successful business.

Two weeks later, Tony’s chief of communications emailed me back. He thanked me for my encouraging words and offered me Tony ‘s book for free. The book that he wrote is entitled Delivering Happiness: a path to profits, passion, and purpose.

Sadly, Tony Hsieh passed away November 27, 2020. However, his legacy and achievements in the business world live on. His business philosophies on how to effectively manage people will certainly be studied and mimicked by future business leaders.

Sam Blakemore is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn

Managing conflict…

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You don’t have to be a manager to run into circumstances that make you want to claw your hair out. Managing conflicts in the retail market space is like pouring a cold cup of water in a glass during the summertime. What I’m trying to get at folks, is that you’re going to have to learn how to deal with the emotions of your staff, your customers, and your family, and most importantly yourself.

First, I would like to come clean… I can be the worse at dealing with conflict. I’ve yelled and kicked many garbage cans.

Any person that is passionate about their craft strives for excellence; and if excellence is not achieved there will be frustration.

Before we get into managing conflict…Let’s consider the following:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 5; how do you manage stress?
  2. Who do you talk to about your stress?
  3. What is your outlet for your stress?
  4. When was your last vacation from your work?
  5. Do you actively take time to de-stress during your workday?
  6. Have you considered quitting your job due to stress?
  7. How often do you raise your voice in a day, a week, a month?
  8. How is your family life; do you spend enough time with friends and family?
  9. How is your sleep? Have you been getting enough rest?

I bring up those questions to lead into how conflict arises. Conflicts arise with much more earnest and ease in times of stress and exhaustion. To ensure you’re at your best; make sure you at least attempt to take care of your daily needs. Eat lunch at an appropriate time, step away for a 15 minute break to clear your mind, or take a brief walk to get away from the office.

Back to conflict! Haha…

When facing conflict with customers, employees, peers, or even family— the first thing you should do is pause. The second step should be to gather your thoughts. The third step should be to listen before speaking. Pause, gather, listen. 

What does it mean to pause you ask? The pause should be intentional. It helps you to refocus your energy into not speaking. Oftentimes I’ve found that immediately speaking, only pours fuel on a “gasoline conflict”.

Gather… To gather means to collect your emotions, your feelings, your worries, your fears, your anxieties. Conflict is an adrenaline rush. Having someone out the blue, just begin yelling or cursing can be a shock to your nervous system. Thus, gather yourself and consider why you’re standing presently in conflict. The pause allows you to actively choose to gather your thoughts and emotions.

Lastly, listen with intent. Your mind will without a doubt be racing toward the hills. This person did me wrong. This person is not right. This person is crazy. Be an active listener in the process towards solving the underlying issues of both your customers and staff. I’ve found that 9 times out of 10 a customer or staff member just needed a moment to be heard. It’s easy to underestimate the value of listening. It’s very easy to want to solve a problem; oftentimes the problems are simple problems that can be solved in 30 minutes or by the end of the business day. The big problems that can lead to conflict often are the problems that have been festering for months.

Conflict is around the corner. But…

  • Reflect and honestly evaluate your personal stressors

Next, when presented with conflict: 

  1. Pause and breathe
  2. Gather your thoughts and emotions
  3. Listen with the intent to understand

 

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Sam Blakemore is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn

 

 

Considering “workplace levers” in managing office politics…

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Management can be difficult. As you have read from my previous posts the most important resource of any business is its employees. If a manager is unable to effectively communicate and utilize their employees, he or she will not be managing for very long.

Leverage is a principle often utilized to discuss financial debt in the world of business. Financial institutions and businesses can utilize debt to take on more risks in the hopes of increasing revenue and profit margin. In that same respect the employee and manager utilize forms of “workplace leverage” to ensure status and influence within the organization. Both the manager and employee use various levers to elicit a response.

The manager’s “work place levers” 

  1. Hire versus Fire to influence employee behavior and decisions
  2. Praise versus Write Ups to influence employee behavior and decisions
  3. The power to increase salary and dole out bonuses to influence employee behavior and decisions
  4. Positive evaluation versus Negative Evaluations of employees to influence employee behavior and decisions
  5. Internal politics with ownership and co-workers to maintain status and position while influencing employee behavior and decisions

The employee’s “work place levers”   

  1. Underutilization versus over-utilization of sick and paid days off to effect management behavior
  2. Gifts and Praise of management/co-workers to effect management behavior
  3. Positive versus Negative Evaluations of management/co-workers to effect management behavior and decisions
  4. Habitually early to work versus habitually tardy to work to effect management behavior and decisions
  5. Internal politics with ownership and co-workers to maintain status and position to effect management behavior and decisions

I won’t delve to deep into the details of how these actions can be utilized by both the manager and employee; but briefly review each point. Consider the names and or faces of the people that you can associate with each variable. In short, both the manager and employee utilize forms of leverage to elicit responses.

As I’ve mentioned previously, people are as important as financial capital in maintaining a functional organization. For those in management; please take the time to consider these 10 key points to ensure a functional work environment.

  1. Be upfront and honest about the role each person plays in maintaining a functional business.
  2. Value the opinion of every member of the team, and actively demonstrate this by listening to their opinions and actively considering these opinions when creating changes within the organization.
  3. Even in times of disagreement; work diligently to maintain a level of respect for that person
  4. Focus on the value created for the shareholders when trying to create a unified vision between management and employee.
  5. Focus on the quality of the product created for the consumption of your customer when trying to create a unified vision between management and employee.
  6. At a minimum evaluate employees biannually; when evaluating always have a third person involved to witness. This reduces the possibility of arguments and misunderstandings.
  7. Be respectful of the goals your employees have; most likely they do not want to be employees for life. And that is fine. Work with them on creating a 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year plan so that they don’t feel stuck in a rut.
  8. Create rubrics to grade yourself and employees; this shows thoughtfulness and reduces bias when grading employees on their abilities.
  9. During reviews, offer each employee a time to have a moment of reflection. Ask them, “do you have an issue with management, a co-worker, or the organization that needs to be resolved?”
  10. Practice being able to discipline without bias; this practice helps maintain uniformity in the organization, and builds a level of trust for the employee in relation to management.

You will never be able to keep people completely happy. And following this plan will not eliminate every employee’s discontent. I still implore each manager to have a plan, and  stick with that plan during both the good and bad times. Work with diligence to ensure the employees you manage have enough space to consider their place and role in the organization.

We work and work till we are tired. The days and months will pass us by, and before we realize it our most important employees are desiring to leave the organization and often we don’t even see it coming.

Please review my 10 key points; by reviewing these points I hope that you’re able to improve employee satisfaction. It is important that managers ensure that an employee’s concerns are heard. There should be open lines of communication in all phases of hierarchy; ownership–>management—>employee. Communication is paramount to ensuring business success.

A company can quickly collapse under the duress of organizational stress. To prevent this collapse managers must pride themselves on using “workplace levers” in an appropriate manner to maintain balanced scales of power in these “workplace courtrooms” that house office politics in every business and industry.

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Sam Blakemore is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn