Category Archives: Leadership

Mistake # 100: Living the top business mistakes

BtoB posted 5 top business mistakes of 2009. I happen to agree with all five.

I might even add one more. Remember how this year was a struggle for all businesses? We just experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression. We had hiring freezes, extreme budget cuts, layoffs (well, my company didn’t but many did), and many employees were working three jobs due to not being able to hire other resources. It was a tough year.

Don’t make the mistake of not hiring where the resources are needed. I needed a sales support staff since January. This decision was always pushed off because management always wanted to “see where we are at the end of the month.” Now, we’re at the end of the year and still needing one sales support staff. It takes months to train a person on our systems, get them beyond the learning curve, familiarize themselves with our business, and train them on answering customer questions. Now that things are feeling (and looking) like we are getting out of the woods and business is really picking up, it could be at the end of the first quarter when we finally have someone sitting in the chair.

Good luck to you and your business in 2010!


Mistake # 81: Un-motivate and discourage your teams

Modeling. As a manager, you need to model your behavior to your staff. Motivate them and encourage them in order to drive high performance. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it?

Cripes! I eat lunch at my desk everyday because I never have time to go out with an employee and smell the roses. I jump in when they need me and end up putting fires out all day long. How is that modeling? I am frustrated with myself.

I read the Five Positive Traits that are Exhibited by A Successful Sales Manager. The first one, Lead By Example, is the hardest. You make one little mistake and they all know it and they spread it around in the company like wildfire. It’s so hard to be a manager. As much as I try to get better at it, sometimes I feel like a failure.

Well, enough already!

Here are three ways, and three goals, that I have for the remainder of the year so that I can motivate and encourage my staff:

* Take one employee to lunch once a week to talk. How’s their family? How are things going? What can we do to get better?

* Hold more department meetings – at least twice monthly.

* Develop a sales incentive program to launch 2010 to drive sales, bring moral up, and do some crazy, zany, fun stuff to make people laugh!

I can get myself more focused to do these! Really!

…I’ll keep you posted.

Mistake # 66: Create confusion at all levels

Do you have a boss that gives you a mandate, only to have his superior give another mandate and another direction? Welcome to the club! I was on a path of purpose, and putting together the process and procedures of a workflow (which followed much discussion from chief executives), only to be pulled and told that I was doing that wrong and needed to go in another direction. This creates a waste of time spent on a task, derailing efficiency and effectiveness. 


Need I say more?!

Mistake # 59: When no decision is a decision

Our competition has been eaten up by another company. Now we are facing a goliath. The announcement took everyone by surprise. What will we do to position ourselves against this industry giant?


Our executives came back with “there is no plan…it will sort itself out and customers will find us as the alternative.”


What?! No plan?! No decision?! How can that be?


Is making no decision, a good decision? It may be the wrong move, but it is the move that was made.


Time will tell.

Mistake # 58: Ignore what your manager is saying!

This is an open letter to my company’s CEO.


Dear “Fred”:


I do not, and never have, had a department where it is a “free for all”. There are, in fact, processes and procedures in place that people need to adhere to when dealing with customers, providing a quote, and processing a signed quote.


I do not know why or how you got the impression that there are not any processes in place. However, I do know that, since we have been short-staffed over the past four months (by three people), and cannot hire due to the economy and cautious on the budget, we have had problems.


For example, I cannot hire a mid-level manager who will oversee small accounts. So, I am the account manager for those so that these customers do not fall through the cracks. My sales support supervisor also serves as sales support, since we are so bare-boned in the department. This creates bottlenecks, which result into mistakes, rushed work, stress, increased tempers, etc. And, not to mention the amount of individuals in the office that have called in sick the past three weeks.


All customers need individual attention. In order to do that, it needs an individual to handle the customers for quality customer service. There are cracks and issues during these difficult (and lack-of-human-resources time), but there are processes that we all follow to ensure that orders are produced properly.


I do not know where you came up with the concept that it is a “free for all.” I think you got the idea from the individual (who went into your office crying) that I have been wanting to fire over the past year (with your approval), but can’t since we are so short on people and it would most likely result in other people leaving if that happened.


I would like to invite you into the department for half a day to get a good picture of what takes that takes place, and/or speak with others in the department.



Your sales manager


P.S.: I am so angry I could scream!

P.S.S.: There. I feel better now.

Mistake # 39: Don’t have anyone in charge of a major company effort!

It just ain’t gonna happen. A group that are my peers are launching a new product for the company. Without a timeline. Without a lead person. “It’s a team effort!” Oh, yeah? Well, you can’t always lead by consensus.


“Where’s the spec sheet?”

“ Oh, forgot about that.”

“Well, we’ll have problems anyway when we do a final load before launch.”

“Before lauch? Won’t that push the (non-existing) timeline back?”

“Yes, by a week.”


Really! Sometimes I just feel like the only way to get ahead and not deal with this kind of stuff is to win the lottery. I’m off to buy lottery tickets.

Mistake #33: Don’t anticipate!

The mortgage crisis, the American car companies losing their shirts, and Americans paying $4.00+ for a gallon of gas (and climbing!), all bear the results of one thing: no future planning!


I grew up in the 1960s and experienced the gas conserving under Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.


Blind sighted? I think not. It’s called, “let’s just ride with the tide!” Eddie Lard’s column and blog say it best: “For years, we saw this coming: the perfect storm of fast-rising gasoline and diesel fuel prices, with no end in sight…” Couldn’t agree with you more, Eddie!


I often get from others who obviously don’t pay attention to world news over the years, “well, how did we know that this was coming?” Bad, bad, bad.


Ford and General Motors should have planned for such a time, because, let’s be honest, just how much oil does one think is in the earth? Just how long can that last, when Americans are using 25% of the world’s oil?


How does this reflect how we manage our business? Well, let’s just put it this way: If you can’t create a vision for your company down the road to bring about change, you will hit a problem. Yes, there are still people out there who are buying Hummers. (For crying out loud! These people don’t have a brain cell in their head!) But, IBM relied on the sale of typewriters, and they scrambled when computers became the means of operating businesses.


Are things going well for your company now? Great! Well, how well will it do in five years if there is a crisis in your marketplace?