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spike bullet October 2011 ~ 10 Commandments for Business Success

1.  Set clear goals
2.  Communicate the goals
3.  Teach/coach employees to understand the goals
4.  Help everyone realize the benefits
5.  Hire the right people
6.  Reward people and teams
7.  Re-train or fire when necessary
8.  Monitor success against goals
9.  Adjust/re-adjust as necessary
10.  Set a good example
Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side)
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color bulletOctober 2011 ~ 10 Commandments for Business Success

Our 10 Commandments come from a variety of training programs and books that we have developed over the years.

1. Set clear goals

Executives and Managers must be clear about what they expect.  

If they want to increase profits, they must be clear about that goal.  If they want to reduce costs, they must be clear about that goal. 

In the public sector, instead of increasing profit, goals might be to increase revenue, increase efficiency, improve customer service, reduce the tax burden on the public, reduce service fees, reduce complaints or reduce overall costs.  Some of these goals apply to for-profit businesses as well.  

Too often, "management" has expectations of employees, yet employees do not understand those expectations.  The goals and expectations must be spelled out clearly for employees.  

Remember, most employees have not been leaders, managers, executives or supervisors and therefore, do not have the perspective that leaders do.

2. Communicate the goals constantly and consistently.

Letting employees know the company’s goals is an ongoing task, not a once-in-awhile pronouncement.  

Goals change as people change, circumstances change and ideas change.  It is important to be clear about what a goal means and what results are expected.  

When leadership says they want to reduce costs, do they provide proven methods and examples for employees so they clearly understand the goal?  Do they ask for employees’ suggestions and opinions on opportunities for savings?  

By allowing employees to have input to the process, they gain the enthusiasm of employees and are able to use their ideas.  Who better than the front line staff know where the opportunities are?

3. Teach / coach all employees to understand that they are responsible and accountable for the goals of the company.

Involving employees in the goal-setting process helps them to feel responsible for the results.  If they feel responsible, it is much easier for them to be accountable for results.  When someone else sets the goals and expects employees to follow along like sheep, it is very hard for employees to feel responsible and to be accountable.

Collaboratively working with employees to agree on goals and to agree on how they can be implemented provides a strong foundation where employees can work together with each other and with management to accomplish what is needed.

4. Help everyone realize the personal benefits to meeting the goals.

"What’s in it for me?" or WIIFM is a buzzword.  And, it is what most people think about when someone wants them to do something.  "What do I get out of this?" they ask.   Therefore, it is important for management/leadership to actually explain why, how, when, where and what benefit the employees can expect if they meet the company goals.

For example, if increased profits and/or reduced expenses are goals, what benefit do the employees receive?  Management should explain exactly what is expected and what they expect the results to be.  Some examples: 

  • Will bonuses be larger?  
  • Will employees have more work with less money?  
  • Will the employee health care package be better or not?  
  • Will the company have more customers?  
  • Will layoffs be avoided?  
  • Will new people be hired?  
  • Will there be promotions to handle the increased workload?  
  • Will there be a party?  
  • Will there be more or less money for things the employees want?  
  • How will their individual or collective lives be better, richer or happier if they go along with these new goals?

All of those questions are going through employees’ minds as they evaluate goals presented by management.  

If management does not provide answers, employees will "make up" their own "stories" about what the end results will be, or someone who is cynical or critical about management will supply their negative view on the situation and erode employee enthusiasm for the goals.  

The result of employees "making up their own stories": employees will not be overly enthusiastic or will unconsciously sabotage the efforts.

5. Hire and keep the right people. 

        Establish clear boundaries for hiring and firing.  

What qualities are important in people you bring into your company or organization?  Have you taken the time to really identify those?  If not, you may be hiring "warm bodies" — people who take up space yet may not be in alignment with your company’s culture, goals, methods, processes, etc.

By clearing identify the cultural values and qualities that are important to you, you can screen applicants in or out based on clearer definitions.  In addition to the normal things like job experience and specific job skills, other qualities can make the difference between a good employee, a marginal employee or an outstanding employee.  Examples of qualities to look for: 

  • Honesty 
  • Integrity 
  • Clear ability to work with others 
  • Personal initiative 
  • Willingness to take responsibility for their own actions 
  • Willingness to participate in making the company a better place to work
  • Strong workplace safety attitude,
  • Good customer service attitude 
  • You may want to add others.

Also, it is important to set clear criteria for firing and let employees know that certain behaviors will not be tolerated.  Examples of firing offenses: 

  • Violence 
  • Drug use 
  • Aggravated assault
  • Disrespectful behavior to coworkers or management
  • Harassment 
  • Bullying 
  • Dishonesty, lying
  • Stealing 
  • Unethical behavior 
  • Bribery 
  • You may want to add others. 

When those negative behaviors are seen in employees, they should be put on probation for less serious ones or fired immediately for egregious offenses or repeated serious violations of your policies.  

Investigate complaints immediately and deal with problems quickly.  Bad employees are like "rotten apples" and can contaminate a good working group if they are not removed.  Taking care of those bad employees properly will also gain respect from the good employees that you want to keep.

6. Reward employees who are meeting goals.  Reward teams who are meeting goals.

As mentioned above, setting goals is important.  Rewarding employees and teams is just as important as it rewards the behavior you want to encourage.

There are many ways of rewarding employees from small day-to-day kindness and respect to elaborate parties or bonuses.  Make a practice of thanking people every time they do something well.  Plan team celebrations for larger accomplishments like completing a project. 

7. Re-train or fire employees who are not meeting goals.

If employees don’t have the skills you want or need, training may fill in the missing skills.  Taking the time to match up the needed skills with a person’s interests and attitude can go a long way toward making sure they are suitable for the job needed.

When it is clear that an employee is not going to fit into your company or is unable to successfully meet the company’s goals, keeping them is only a waste of time and energy for them and for you.  Sometimes, they can be successful in a different job within the same company, so consider that before firing them.  If not, help them realize that this is not a good fit and move them out.

8. Monitor success of the company against the established goals.

Goals are wonderful things.  Someone needs to pay attention to what is happening with progress toward the goals.  

Maybe, several people are responsible for monitoring progress towards goals.  For example, the Finance department may be responsible for monitoring how revenue compares to revenue goals.  Technology may be responsible for monitoring progress for large technology projects or monitoring how well the company website is working.  Human Resources may be responsible for monitoring progress for hiring and performance reviews.  Marketing may be responsible for monitoring advertising campaigns.

All of those monitoring points can then be summarized for the company/organization’s management team that gives them a "snapshot" or "dashboard" to quickly know where the company is at any time. 

9. Adjust and re-adjust as needed.

All plans and goals have to adjust periodically as new situations arise, as conditions change and as goals are met. 

New goals need to set.  Old goals need to be retired.  Other goals may need to be modified to meet new demands and events.

This is a constant process.  Some companies do it quarterly, others annually.  Some, only when they feel it’s right.  The size and maturity of an organization will determine the right timing.

10. Set a good example at all times.

Does management set an example by their actions that they really believe in a particular goal?  For example, do leaders say they want to reduce travel costs yet they continue to fly first class or travel to exotic locations for reasons that employees think is frivolous?  Or, do leaders change their habits to match the goals they set?

Management and leadership are being watched closely by employees at all times.  Think of it as an "on the job interview" every single day.  

What leaders DO says much more than what they write or speak about.  Be sure that your actions are consistent with your words.  

As Emerson said, "What you do stands above you and shouts so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying."  

  Internet Resources

book graphic  Books

world wide web - articles  Articles

Related newsletter articles:
    February 2004 - Corporate Integrity & Credibility: Why it is so important
    July 1998 - Developing and Using Intuition
    December 2000 - Sponsoring Successful Projects
    August 2008 - Secrets of New Project Success
    June 2004 - Successful Stakeholdering
    June 2001 - Successful project Management
    September 2000 - Climbing the Ladder of Success
    May 2000 - Case Study: The Birth of NetRam Computers

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

  • The man may teach by doing, and not otherwise.  If he can communicate himself, he can teach, but not by words.  He teaches who gives, and he learns who receives.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • If a teacher has any opinion which he wishes to conceal, his pupils will become as fully indoctrinated into that as any which he published.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • It is a vain attempt to keep a secret from one who has a right to know it.  It will tell itself.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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Page updated: May 26, 2015      
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