A leader is one who leads; not one who follows the whims of those led. Leaders deal with the needs of their followers, not their wants. A business owner must lead. Otherwise, whatever happens…well…happens. I was recently reminded that the leader must not only lead, but must legislate. They must legislate what is acceptable and assure followers meets those standards. And they must not violate the standards themselves.
What does that mean in practice? The leader establishes the hours the business needs to be open to attract and retain customers. Let’s say the leader decides that is eight to five, Monday through Friday. So when should workers who serve the customers need to be present? That’s where it begins to get fuzzy.
Is it okay for one press operator to come in at 3:00 in the morning and work until 11:00? Is it okay for another one to work from 5:00 until 1:00? And we have a CSR who has to drop his child off at school, which is a long way away, so he can’t begin work until 10:00, but he makes it up by working through until 6:00 in the evening. And, oh yeah, boss, I don’t want to stop and eat lunch, so I will just work on through and leave early, okay? Is it okay for another to take off Fridays so she can visit her family every weekend in another state, and, after all, we aren’t that busy anyway?
The worker’s logic is usually, “Since I don’t deal with customers, then as long as I put my eight hours in, then what’s the difference? After all, eight hours is eight hours.” This is when the leader’s legislation is needed. The leader, in allowing such behavior, is organizing around what workers want, not what they and the business need.
What is the business of your business? According to Al Ries, it is to attract and retain customers. Why do we have business hours? We establish hours in which to do business with customers and they usually are set at the convenience of the customer. And it is up to the leader to determine what those hours are.
Now, does it make sense for your business to open at 3:00 a.m. and close at 11:00 a.m.? Does it make sense for the business to be open Thursday through Sunday and closed Monday through Wednesday? Most of us would say no. That is because we need to be available when our customers want to buy what we produce. If we aren’t, then it is logical that they would go to another supplier who is open when they want to buy.
The Concept of Team
“Yeah, but,” comes the cry from the back room workers. “What’s that got to do with us? We don’t see the customer.” In many cases that is correct. The press operator does not see the customer, but they do serve the customer.
My wife, Pamela, has a great analogy for this. She says, “In football games, the field goal team is not used that much; maybe three or four times in a game at most, and usually, but not always, in the third or fourth quarter. So why does the field goal kicker have to show up for the first half and just sit on the bench? ‘Coach, I’ll come in at halftime and do my job, but there’s no need for me to just sit here.’”
Or is there? It seems pretty obvious in football that you really don’t know when you will need the kicker. So when do you think you will need the typesetter? Do you need them during business hours or outside of business hours? Beyond that, there is the concept of team. They call it the baseball team, the football team, or the basketball team. Do you have a printing team? Or do you have a collection of individuals who do their job and nothing more? “After all, boss, you pay me to do my job and I do it. So what’s the beef?”
A team is supportive of each other, meaning we don’t do just our job. We support, interface with, and even do tasks of others when appropriate. The points that go up on the scoreboard aren’t the number of impressions; rather they are total sales. We aren’t individuals; we are members of a team. The team puts up the sales number. The press operators don’t do it by themselves.