Tag: business decision making

A few New Year’s resolutions for the irresolute

Well, here it is the New Year again, that magic moment when we are supposed to drop all our bad habits and institute perfect new ones. Are you a natural at this? I’m not. And frankly, by January I’m exhausted. We’ve just been through six frenzied weeks of either celebrating holidays or preparing for holidays. We’ve had guests come and go. And to top it all off, the New Year in Minnesota is dark. And cold. How do you choose the right route in that frame of mind?

Most of us from time to time will reach a point where we are unsure how to act or proceed. Not sure how to go forward? Here are my proposed resolutions for the irresolute, for those times when you just don’t know what to do. Feel free to co-opt one or all.

  1. I resolve to get some data so I can reduce the guesswork about which way to proceed.
  2. I resolve to trust my intuition – if something feels like the right course of action, I will take it.
  3. I resolve to ask my customers if I have a question about my products or services.
  4. I resolve to ask someone for help if I cannot make my decisions alone.
  5. I resolve to remember that if I make a mistake I can take actions to correct it.
  6. I resolve to forgive myself for not always having the right answer.
  7. I resolve to use hindsight as a tool to learn, not beat myself up for the decisions I’ve made.

Happy New Year, everybody. I wish you peace, prosperity, and joy.

Have a resolution (past or present) that you’d like to share?

When your efforts aren’t appreciated

When you’re a parent, eventually you have to accept that a vast majority of the things you do for your kids will be ignored, resented or taken for granted. It doesn’t feel fair. I kill myself day and night only to get a shrug at best, outright hostility at worst. Honestly, it’s as if my kids think I wake up in the morning thinking, “How can I make them miserable today? I know, I’ll make them wear winter coats!”

Managing employees can feel a bit like that, too. Sometimes it seems that no matter how hard you try to be fair and friendly everyone has a complaint. This is particularly true when the business is going through a change of some kind. You know how much everyone likes change!

I’ve worked with many a business owner who feels resentful, alone and frustrated when that happens. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Be friendly but know that your role is not that of a friend. You have to balance your employees’ interests with those of the business and your own. Not easy, but that’s why your name is on the building.
  • Sometimes all people need is to be heard. Listen to what they have to say and respectively disagree if you need to.
  • Stand firmly behind your decisions. Don’t waver. If you don’t seem committed to them no one else will be either.
  • If you find you’ve made a bad decision fix it and move on. Acknowledge the change but don’t apologize for it. Everyone, even the boss, makes mistakes from time to time.

I would love to write more but I’m traveling this weekend and before I go I have to complete my scheduled work, clean the house, finish the laundry, pick up some groceries, and produce  a helpful household schedule that no one will read. A good day’s work – not that anyone will appreciate it.

Feeling unloved? Share your stories with sarah@dayonebusinessservices.com – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.

When priorities differ

We bought a vacuum cleaner today. Actually, we bought two. My husband deemed this a complete waste of time and money for what seems like an obvious reason…we already have three vacuum cleaners.

Before you immediately side with him let me explain that one of the vacuum cleaners is a canister vac that dates back to Reagan’s second term in office (no kidding). The second is an upright behemoth that seems to weigh about 400 pounds. It’s so heavy I can barely use it and more importantly, my kids can’t use it. The third, while newer, is so gutless it’s a wonder it can pick up anything at all.

And anyway, should you really get a vote if you only vacuum twice a year? In other words, the person who uses the vacuum should get to decide, right?

Well, we all know that’s not always how decision-making works. When you’re running a business some of the requests you receive seem ridiculous, particularly when it comes to technology. Having been, at various times, both the manager and the managed, it can be frustrating to both parties. What seems like a gaping need to the individuals doing the work may seem like a luxury to the person managing the budget. But I can tell you I’ve experienced situations where lagging technology severely affected output and productivity. If you’re faced with a decision like this, ask yourself:

  • What can I expect to get from an upgrade? Will I see an increase in productivity? Shortened timelines? Better quality output?
  • How long will it take me to see a return on my investment? Will there be a return?
  • If I were doing this job what would I want to have at my disposal?

Decision making always involves a trade-off, and sometimes compromise. I admit, I did let my husband choose one of the vacuums today. He was really impressed by the wide array of attachments it had. Who knows, maybe he’ll vacuum four times this year.

Facing a technology upgrade? Send your stories to sarah@dayonebusinessservices.com  – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.

How to make everybody happy (hint: you can’t)

My daughter has a dance recital this weekend. She works all year to be ready for it, and it’s a great chance for us to see how much she’s progressed. But this year, we have a dilemma. The dance school scheduled her two recitals for Saturday afternoon, right smack over two of our sons’ baseball games.

My daughter wants the whole family at the same recital but that will be physically impossible unless one of our boys misses a game. A sticky problem, and the only known value in this equation is that at least one person – and probably more than one – will be disappointed.

Decisions are often like that. Sometimes the only way to satisfy one person is to disappoint another. Only one person will get the promotion. Only one person will be the MVP. Only one person will get the last popsicle.

Several years ago, a business owner confided in me about a problem on his staff. He had a high-performing sales team that was 100% travel and 100% commission. They were kicking the lights out of their quotas, the company was making money, and everyone was happy – well, everyone but the payroll administrator who thought they were overpaid.

She had sown so much dissent among the office staff that he was actually considering a change to the sales compensation just to keep the peace. That would surely have caused an uproar with the sales associates who had a certain expectation of what they would earn in exchange for the risk they assumed on commission, and the time they spent away from home. I understand the business owner’s uncertainty. It’s easy when faced with continual pressure to bow to the wrong opinion – but it’s critical to make sure that the path of least resistance doesn’t lead off a cliff.

We’ll resolve our upcoming conflict in the only way that really makes sense – half of us will go to one recital and half of us to the other. One of the parents will attend our younger son’s game and the other will attend our older son’s game. No one will like it, because nobody gets to win – but then again, nobody’s really losing either.

Have a tough decision to make? Send your stories to sarah@dayonebusinessservices.com – if I use it I’ll feature your business.

“But I don’t like borscht” and other opinions I don’t care about

My family doesn’t really like borscht. Even my husband (whose main positive attribute, in my view, is that he’ll eat anything I decide to cook) shakes his head a little when he hears that it’s on the menu. But I keep serving it for two reasons. First, it’s good for them, full of vitamins and fiber. Second,  I happen to love borscht and I figure since I do 110% of the cooking we ought to eat what I like.

If you’re running a business and managing employees, you likely run into situations on a regular basis that make you doubt your judgement. There are plenty of things for employees to disagree with and in a small business, they often feel it easier to express their opinions to you and to their co-workers.

I once had a client who, after much consideration, moved to a direct deposit payroll system. She knew that not only would she get some efficiencies from this move, but it would be easier and faster for her employees to get access to their earnings. But despite her careful preparation and extensive communication, when the first direct deposit payroll rolled around she nearly had a mutiny. She received enough negative feedback that she called me to ask if she should revert to her old system.

My answer? “Absolutely not.” Why? Because despite the fact that the employees reacted to the change, it was still better for the business and better for the employees to continue. And additionally, since her name was on the building, she got to decide.

Last night as I ladled up steaming borscht I encouraged my 7-year-old (also known as “He Who Eats Almost Nothing”) to give it another chance. “You like cooked celery,” I said, “cooked cabbage is even better.”

He apparently was in a mood to humor me and gave it a try. “It’s not bad,” he said, and he took another spoonful, not only validating my decision but giving me something to hold over the heads of the rest of the family – a huge bonus!

Trust your instincts and be willing to take charge. Nobody said leadership was going to be easy but if I can get my kid to eat beet soup you can surely win over your employees.

Have you ever second-guessed one of your decisions? Send your stories to sarah@dayonebusinessservices.com. If I use it I’ll feature your business.