What’s First? Hope or Business?
What Is It About Hope and Business?
Recently I attended an hour long presentation on the progress of a company that I know well. The underlining tones were awful. Here is a company that is 1800 employees strong and they intermingled ancient Chinese Philosophy as a motivating trend…to do what?
Create hope, I think.
It was such a shocking scene that I had the hardest time trying to focus on the financials of the company and direction. It was all WRONG!!!
I am not sure why a CEO of any American company would intermingle Chinese thought patterns as a message of order and hope.
He is not Chinese. He is American. Although that may not matter, the issue was, if HE was trying to instill hope for the company, it failed. miserably.
The fact remains that we need to start with hope in the right place.
You need hope, it is required as some kind of motivator to keep people moving forward. With COVID19, companies across the world are trying to instill hope into their employees.
Here is the sale.
Company sales across the world are down and I do realize not all companies have been hit hard by this pandemic, but I would guess a high portion has. It is this trickling effect that if it is not addressed, companies could go under, and in fact have gone under.
So, how do you instill hope into your pipeline?
How do you tell your employees that, it is going to be okay without sounding all the alarms? That is tricky, in some companies all they hear is numbers that they are down 20-30% in sales and things look really bad.
That is what happened in my opening line. Focusing on what is down, does not give hope on what can be up.
For starters, instilling hope on what is working is a great motivation. You provide hope by redirection in a company. You don’t dwell on percentages down in the company, meaning, yes let people know, but that should not be the focus. People are not stupid, they know that companies are hurting.
You provide hope by talking about what IS WORKING, HOW to expand upon it and HOW everyone can get behind it.
That is a HUGE Sale.
Not all directors, CEO, managers can do that. I have watched many companies lose that hope. I have watched them crash to the ground like a plane on fire.
When is Hope Lost?
This is when you find out if your CEO, manager, director or any leader has real leadership skills.
Employees are not ignorant. They are the ones in the trenches and getting the job done. They know when things slow down. They know when a product is not working. They know when shelves are full and no product is being ordered. Hello, they can see out the window on the plane too, and they see FIRE!!
So what does leadership do when they and the entire plane sees flames outside their window? Well, jumping out the plane, in some companies, believe it or not, is their answer. When I consulted a company not to long ago, I watched a top executive jump out of the plane. (This is all figurative, he really didn’t jump out of a plane) He was not interested in putting out the flames or trying to keep the plane from crashing. What the CEO learned about that man, at that moment, was hard to take. He thought he had a top executive able to handle situations and put out the fire. That makes the CEO look really bad, after all, he is the one that hired the guy.
So, jumping out of the plane…? is that it?
Sure that is one answer.
FIRE!! FIRE!! FIRE!!
Grab your parachute, we are jumping out of the plane!
A really good CEO can sell to their employees that there is hope. It is not all dead. One engine is on fire and we have one good one. We can fix this and make it work.
A really good CEO gathers his/her team together and they analyze.
What caused the fire? What is fueling the fire? How much damage is there? What do we have to do to defuse the fire?
By identifying these issues and talking about it, your CEO think tank will entertain solutions to stop the fire by killing the fuel and then fix the engine… in mid air. (Pretty cool,uh?)
Creating Hope Among Your Work Family
The issue is not just the flames outside your window. It is the effect of YOUR attitude, HOPE, from the employees that can and will make a difference in companies.
Too many CEO’s lose that understanding, especially if they had this great successful run for the last 3 years. CEO’s have a hard time focusing on what got them to that point and then forget all about those out in the field. When the CEO is in this mind set, he/she struggles to connect with the rest of the people on the plane to help him put out the fire. EVEN if the company has done really well, not all employees have been able to share in that wealth. In fact, a CEO may run into more issues on a successful run than a fire sale. Hope is lost on any situation with employees if there is no sign of shared success.
The question will be asked, why would I help when there is fire, when you didn’t think of sharing the spoils with me when it was good?
After I had this one hour of CEO time, I got some calls about what I thought about the presentation. I withheld judgment and then redirected employees to other things. From CEO mindset to, hey, how did that delivery go the other day? But, the question came back, what did I think of the presentation? That was a hard time to spread positive when it was all negative. Most of the issue was the data was well over everyone’s head.
A Story of Hope.
Many years ago, while I landed a job to manage my very first fleet, I had the most wonderful experience of hope.
This business owner was involved with all 200 plus employees. He knew their name, he knew their work ethic and showed gratitude on many occasions.
This company resided just outside of Los Angeles California.
At some point, the company that his father had started many, many years ago, was getting into trouble. Lack of contracts caused lack of work and much worry among employees. If we didn’t have trucks running, that meant we needed less drivers, and I needed less technicians to service trucks. Drivers knew that, I knew that and my maintenance crew knew it.
He did not have to tell us the seriousness of the situation. It was obvious.
What he did tell us, he was about to close a deal that it would provide plenty of work for everyone. To instill hope, he made a point on Friday afternoons to walk out into the yard where drivers and maintenance people were and handed out $50.00 bills. (He did not lay or cut hours back for employees, he gave them other duties)
He did not focus on what was wrong but what the future looked like ahead. He did not pull out spread sheets and show us numbers.
He did this every Friday after that.
I asked him one time, why he didn’t stop it.
Even after we had now secured the new work and everyone was back to normal routine.
His answer has stuck with me for almost 35 years. Because a paycheck is not enough thank you. Because it is not just the employee, it is his family too that pays the price for them working with me. Because he wanted to show gratitude for his employees family by giving extra. Not everyone would get the money on Friday. He would come out at odd times, sometimes the yard was full and other times it was partially full.
I remember this clearly as if it was yesterday. He would not just hand me 50 bucks, he would extend his hand. While in a hand shake he would tell me thank you, and extend appreciation for my work. He would tell me the money is to treat my family or wife to a Friday night dinner. It was a rarity then, and it is a rarity now to see such things in business.
People did not get angry if they didn’t get the money. Just knowing this is how he felt was a huge difference.
Buy doing this kind act, he had instilled more dedication, more effort, harder working employees. VERY little turnover and a list of 90 applicants begging to work for this company.
He didn’t end it there either.
He extended more money on a few occasions.
He picked up an extra contract. It was voluntary only. IF you were willing to work extra, it was available, but if not. That is okay.
Then he said, I cant pay much, but I need your help. It may mean, you work 18-20 hours and then come back again for your normal job. I appreciated the man so much that I said, I want to help. Some did and some didn’t.
BUT, what happen was unexpected. At the end of this grueling week. I counted an extra 20 hours of work that I did, he still gave out a pay check. I said thank you, but I did it to help you out and the company, because that is what you did.
He said take the check and walked away.
I was SHOCKED when I opened it up!!
He paid an entire week of wages. Not the 20 hours I did, but for 40 hours. EVERYONE got paid the 40 hours, no one worked an extra 40, but he paid it.
I worked 60 hours, paid 80 hours!
He later sent out a letter to all employees that it was only fair that he shared in the earnings. It would not have happened without the extra employee work, therefore they were vested into the project like he was and received extra as proportioned to the work load.
The other awesome part of it, he vested much of it back into his company. He made enough to purchase two brand new semi trucks. Did I feel cheated? I only got an extra week of pay?
We got the best of both worlds. more money at home and better equipment at work.
Let’s Answer the FIRST QUESTION.
I want to answer the first question, because most likely you’re not in big business. How does hope and business work for you?
Let me make it simple, you need a few ingredients to make a business work, and you need them upfront before you start.
- Desire and determination
- Belief in what your doing.
- Hope. Hope that they will all come together.
Notice I never said anything about money?
We cannot put HOPE first. You cannot hope for something you do not have a desire, no passion, no belief and no knowledge about.
Money is the easy part.
I have learned that if you have all of the 5 items above, you find the money. You make it happen. I have done it on many occasions my self. I figured it out, found the money and then made money.
This leads me to my final thought.
Knowledge and Desire are important. That is why I have invested so much time and energy to the book “Iceberg Effect”
The Iceberg Effect that is a FREE book, it provides for you all 5 items. Once you read it, you will gain the desire, passion, knowledge and belief, creating hope that what efforts you do, will continue and produce results that you want. To increase hope, you continue to learn, which is added knowledge. Knowledge instills more desire and passion and gives more hope. You feed it over and over again.
I cannot get any more simple that this.
Tell me what you think. Give me some feed back and share your thoughts.