How to Kill a Company
These are true stories of how companies are managed, and the mistakes that I learned from them. I did not, at the time, enjoy these experiences. At times they were painful, backbreaking, demanding, and inexcusable. I believe that there are companies that have some dysfunctions – whether it is a result of their human resources, functions, products, processes and procedures, customer service, product development, delivery, or a combination of all of these. Although my experiences impacted my life (sometimes to the tune of loss of a job, loss of vacation time, loss of time with my children and family, loss of time in my career), I have grown into a more experienced and sought-out person. In spite of these experiences, I pushed myself to grow professionally, and maintain my contacts. I now have an incredible large group of industry colleagues and close friends that give me advice, insight, feedback, and a shoulder to cry on.
I am giving you this shoulder and blog in order to learn and grow so that other people and companies learn from my experiences.
You are about to enter the world of work, and the mistakes that companies make in order to grow sales, gain recognition, build brand of their products or services, and maintain loyal, dedicated, and dynamic employees.
Mistake #1: Be complacent when things are going well
First of all, if you are the leader of a company, division of a company, or head up an entire department, be sure to let your middle managers tell you what you want to hear. You can rely solely on what they tell you, and it will make sense. Why not? They are doing all of the heavy lifting and have their head down in the trenches, so they must know what the customers are saying, thinking, eating, and smelling.
It also means that you don’t have to push people to grow in their jobs, stretch in their goals, and grow the company. In fact, let your middle managers allow their direct reports do the same job for so long that they don’t have to ever consider the question, “why are we doing this?” If sales are coming in, what’s the problem? We’re doing just fine with the customers we have. That way, Suzie Que can still leave at 3:30 in the afternoon to meet her kids after school (even though they are now seniors in high school and getting ready for college), and Brownie can take her full three weeks of vacation all at once to Europe – at the busiest time of year, of course.
And by the way, don’t call or email Zippers in customer service after 5:00 pm ET. So if you are in California and need something from Zippers, you better contact Zippers by 2:00 pm. In fact, just drop everything by 1:30 and think real hard about company ZEE so that you can place all of your orders at at that time. Make sure you do so at the beginning of the week, because Zippers usually calls in sick on Fridays so that she can take a three-day weekend. Then, you’ll end up with another customer service rep who doesn’t have a clue of your account, your invoice, or your product that just shipped yesterday. Otherwise, you’ll just have to call Zippers again on Monday (because her co-worker forgot to give her the message that you called. A cake was being served in the conference room for Barley’s birthday and that was more important than you)
Top level company managers and executives need to get out into the trenches just as much as the lower level employees. Otherwise, they do not have the credibility needed to lead a team. That way, executives can either confirm or discount the excuses by middle level managers on why sales are low, why a particular account was not won, why customer service needs to be more responsive to the West Coast, or why Zippers takes more Fridays off than anyone else in the company.