By Tim J Hillegonds04 March 2008
The dawn of a new year is upon us. We look back at 2007 with a raised eyebrow – some of us wishing we had just a little more time – others of us wishing the close of the year could have come a little sooner. We look back at goals we met and ones we did not, at our successes and failures, and begin to take an inventory of what still needs to be done.
And so it starts – the making of our resolutions.
Every year millions of Americans vow to change their lives in some way and, oddly enough, most Americans seem to make the same resolutions over and over. We solemnly swear to spend more time with friends and family, hit the gym, tame the bulge, quit smoking, quit drinking, get out of debt, enjoy more life, learn something new, help others, and get organized. As a matter of fact, so many people resolve to do the things that I just listed that they are, in fact, widely known as the top ten most resolved things to do almost every year.
But what if we looked at New Years from more than just a personal vantage point and tried to fix more than the just the spare tire around our waists? What if we looked at it from a business perspective or from a risk management perspective and vowed to enhance our business practices and invest in our human capital?
Keeping that in mind, I give you five New Years resolutions that will make a good company better.
1. Enhance your business culture.
When Fortune Magazine named Google the number one place in the world to work in 2007, the world took notice. Google receives 1,300 applications a day and boasts unparalleled perks such as free meals, free doctors on site, a swimming spa, annual ski trips to the Sierra and free laundry service. Google realized early that to continue to be a prominent force in Silicon Valley it needed to recruit and retain top talent, the best of the best. But instead of just throwing money at a bunch of already overpaid executives and future prospects, they changed their business culture – they made their company the most desirable company to work at so that the top talent would come to them. And even though most of us won't be installing day spas in our dispatch offices, offering Gatorade on hot days, monthly company cookouts, small incentive bonuses and overall recognition of hard work help to enhance your business culture and give you a leg up on the competition.
2. Delegate and empower.
When one crane or truck turns into a fleet of 30 and 30 turns into a hundred, it is impossible for the owner to continue to do it all. Delegating responsibility and empowering your employees to make decisions is essential to maintaining a healthy work/life balance. And not only that, it gives you the ability to have that “hundred thousand foot view” that allows you to really see your business in a new light. Contract management is probably not your favorite Saturday afternoon pastime so by delegating it to your jobsite supervisor you give him the ability to take a big responsibility and make it his. Empowerment breeds accountability and trust and those, in turn, breed success.
3. Set realistic goals.
As simple as it sounds, setting goals that are unachievable is a common thread amongst companies that don't meet the expectations they set for themselves. Dr. Vance Havner, a well known Christian pastor and author once wrote, “The vision must be followed by the venture. It's not enough just to stare up the steps.” As a company our goals are ultimately going to be to get the top of the industry that we're in but if we don't climb the steps one at time, we may never get there. Even Lance Armstrong, arguably one of best athletes of all time, had to learn to ride a bike before he could wear the infamous yellow jersey.
4. Don't make do, get a new one.
This can be applied to almost everything in your business from people to offices to fax machines to that 1960 Bucyrus Erie 30B that you have been trying to put to work for the last ten years. The irritation of “just making do” has more of a negative effect that eliminating the problem would. It might cost a little more money but having employees and equipment that functions at the level they need to drive success and boost morale is priceless.
5. If it's not working stop it.
When a lot of energy goes into trying to make the unworkable workable, valuable time and, effort is lost. Being smart about when it is time to pull the plug on a contractor that is not working out, or an operator who is constantly testing the limits both in the seat and back at the yard is just plain old good business practice.
Use the three strike rule if you have to: identify the problem, try and rehabilitate it, and if it can't be fixed quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively, the eliminate it.