I love the use of analogies. One of the prime examples I use is a owner of a contracting company as being the captain of a ship. As the leader you may find yourself heading towards “stormy business weather.” This storm is approaching as your sales revenue is lower than your overhead, field labor and material costs can substantiate. When this happens, you start to take on water. (Go into debt) Soon the whole ship is in danger of sinking.
When you finally wind up in the worst part of the storm the telltale signs are all around you as the captain. The rain of phone calls from vendors looking to collect on what you owe or the lightning of your having to consider a loan, line of credit or even take money out of your own pocket, just to make payroll this week are just a few of the signs that your ship is indeed in trouble.
All Hands On Deck
As the captain it is your duty to get your ship and the crew out of here and into clear waters and blue skies. “All hands on deck!” you scream. As you look around your “ship” you see that some of the crew members are not pulling their weight while others are doing all they can to help. And that is the problem in a nutshell.
Take a walk around your company and look at each employee. Sure when the “sales weather” was great, you hardly noticed some of the crew taking a break on the sun deck while other rowed away. Now, when it is slow, there is no room for slackers. EVERYONE must pull the oar and get us out of the storm. Ask yourself while examining each person in your company, “Is this employee an engine or an anchor?”
Your Instincts Are Evidence
I really believe that an owner or manager “instinctively” know when an employee is an “anchor” that is holding the ship back from sailing into clear waters. I have to tell you that I believe that instincts are over-rated when it comes to management. I believe that instincts are really the feeling you get when faced with small bits of hard evidence that the manager or owner has observed.
Some of the hard evidence I am talking about is an employee who…
- Routinely comes in late or goes home early
- Shows up absent with no notice or phone call
- Doesn’t bother to wear the “whole” company uniform
- Rarely brings in enough revenue to even cover their own wage
- Specializes in creating call-backs
- Blows off company meetings
- Talks bad about other employees behind their back
- Shows no respect for their truck
- Bring more excuses than results
The answer to your problems is to release all anchors now and activate all engines to propel your ship. I always framed this problem as an opportunity. After all someone who is not happy following all your “silly rules” would be happier an more productive working somewhere that excellence doesn’t matter. Once you decide to not tolerate poor performance you will find it easy to steer the course to beautiful, sunny and profitable waters.
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