The Coach's Corner

Archive for March, 2018

Finally, a Positive Story About Corporate America

March 19th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

If you are like me, you’re probably getting sick of reading and listening to negative stories about corporate America. Even hearing those two words together can be a turnoff.

Well, the other day I was with a client who shared a very positive story.

In his industry, there’s a growing shortage of independent installers for their product — and, you guessed it, installers are very critical if the manufacturer and the distributor are going to be successful. A huge problem is that fewer workers are entering this field, since it’s so physically taxing, and most installers burn out at a relatively young age.

My client shared how the manufacturer has responded to these concerns by developing a new product that’s less complex and easier to install. Since its introduction, the new product has resulted in a 50 percent increase in productivity. To the customer, the changes have no affect whatsoever on the look, functionality, or pricing of the product. Environmentally sensitive customers, meanwhile, have been happy to discover the new product is manufactured from fully recyclable materials.

To my client’s surprise — and mine, too — the manufacturer’s representative, who is promoting this product, says, “We recommend the installers continue to charge the same price to install the product.” As a result, younger, stronger installers are able to increase their income by 50 percent, while older, experienced installers can keep earning the same income with significantly less wear and tear on their bodies.

Wow, I just got re-recruited — here’s a business that truly cares about its workers.

I hear and read a lot of similar stories indicating there’s a shortage of skilled, manual laborers. Are you in one of those industries? Is there an innovation in your industry that would be customer-neutral, but would improve your workers’ lives?

Do You Want to Turn Followers into Leaders?

March 5th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In Turn the Ship Around!, L. David Marquet, a retired Navy nuclear submarine captain, proposes using a leader-leader model rather than a leader-follower model in the workplace. If you know anything about the military, the power of his contrarian point of view is revolutionary.

Based on firsthand experience, having survived U.S. Army basic training at Fort Ord a few decades ago, it seemed to me that the Army’s goal was to get us to do whatever they told us to do, no matter how stupid or unreasonable it may have been. Some of the absurd things drill instructors said to us were laughable — although, for self-preservation, no one would dare laugh out loud. I recall coming home on leave for the first time and Barbara asking me, What’s the matter? The opinionated fellow she had married suddenly wasn’t able to make any decisions for himself. That’s when I realized that, in order to survive, I had put myself in a mental state where I just did whatever my superiors told me to do, no matter what I personally thought. As a result, I had become — and remained throughout my military career — a really GOOD follower.

In his book, this former captain is proposing something very foreign to the military. Marquet says leadership in the armed forces has historically been all about controlling people, but he goes on to admit that there’s a vast untapped human potential being lost under  the leader-follower model.

I know you’re trying to figure out the business application. Well, if you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve commented many times on the importance of listening to your team members, even when you don’t like their input, and creating an atmosphere where team members at all levels are encouraged to share their ideas. Marquet offers an interesting point of view that I believe applies to businesses as well as the military.

In addition to the above, Marquet provides some insight into the how the leader-follower model is only effective in the short run. He gives examples of submarines with effective leader-follower captains who failed under a new captain. In the past, I’ve addressed the importance of business succession; Marquet believes the leader-leader model is best for succession.

If you’re like many of us who prefer to control, I would suggest reading Turn the Ship Around! I’m certain you’ll be encouraged by Captain Marquet’s revolutionary ideas.

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Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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