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Winning management strategies.

DURING CHALLENGING TIMES, SUCH as the current tepid economic recovery, a business's performance is determined by the habits and attitudes of its work force. The same is true during good times, but poor productivity and ineffective practices tend to be overlooked when profits are plentiful. By fostering the right attitude now, managers can position their companies for maximum results as the economy rebounds.

While business is slow, managers can encourage employees to give more attention to previously neglected duties, such as long-range planning and organizational improvements. Managers should also emphasize the importance of networking among professional counterparts, both internal and external.

Develop a team. The best staffs function as a unified team, and management should seek ways to create a team approach to tasks. A team is made up of people who may not be equal in experience, talent, or education, but who are equal in commitment and value. The supervisor may want to hold team meetings, but such a gathering should not be permitted to deteriorate into a forum for complaining; it should be focused on developing a strategy to tackle department responsibilities or problems.

Every staff person should be encouraged to contribute to developing long-term goals. A good question to start this brainstorming session with is, "How do we develop the perfect working environment for us and for our clients?"

A good example of the team approach occurred at one company with which I consulted. The company's market went from zero to 200 competitors in one year. To deal with the problem, management decided to get everybody involved in making the company more competitive. The firm used a program called Just Imagine to build the team spirit.

Just Imagine gave each employee the opportunity to meet once a week with seven or eight other employees for an hour of brainstorming. In three weeks, two of these groups had come up with ideas that would save the company $250,000 each.

Get involved. Slow times are perfect times for a manager to chair a committee at the chamber of commerce or head a project for a professional society or association. The more involved a manager gets in the community is to support his or her company.

Network. There is no point in an employee going to trade shows and association meetings if no one is going to remember that he or she was there. When networking, managers and others should work to meet their peers and establish business relationships. It is important to shake hands, talk, and look at people's business cards. A name tag should always be worn on the right shoulder so it is easy for people to read when shaking hands. The manager should come up with interesting ways to introduce himself or herself. For instance, in response to the typical "what do you do" question, a manager might casually include substantive information that could generate interest and ultimately business.

Keep in touch. Calling or writing former prospects to remind them of the company's function, location, area of expertise, and competitive edge is a good way to pick up some business. It is the company's obligation to keep its services fresh in its clients' minds. Clients should be contacted regularly with status reports while a project is in progress. If no project is being worked on, the manager should contact the client periodically so that there is an open line of communication with the company.

A former sales manager for 3M Company used to get teased by his colleagues for writing so many notes. He replied, "Everyone I've done business with hears from me at least once every three months. While my competition is calling my clients asking for their business, they're reading my notes."

Be accommodating. The manager should make a rule in his or her department that whoever picks up the phone owns the problem. Owning the problem does not mean solving it, but the people who answer the phone should be responsible for more than just taking messages. They give clients and prospective clients the first impression of the company.

Anyone answering the phone should be well trained and know how to respond appropriately to requests. For instance, if a client leaves a message for Mary Smith, who is expected back at 4:30 p.m. but has not returned by 5:30 p.m., the person who took the message should return the call to let the caller know that Mary will not be in until the morning.

Life is a series of sales situations. As Woody Allen said, "Eighty percent of life is just showing up." In challenging times it is easy to become depressed and not get involved. Managers must overcome that tendency and instill in their staff the urge to do the same. Managers and their departments should make commitments to themselves during slow times just as they set goals during good times.

Patricia Fripp is a professional speaker and trainer. She is the author of Get What You Want as well as many audio and videocassette programs. For more information, contact Patricia Fripp, 527 Hugo Street, San Francisco, CA 94122; phone 800/634-3035 nationwide or 800/553-6556 in California.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Managing
Author:Fripp, Patricia
Publication:Security Management
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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