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The Good Jobs Strategy/in Ideas to help you build a solid team/by Tom Doescher
As I reflected back to the 1960s and ’70s, I thought of communities like Warren, Michigan (where several of my relatives lived). The city was filled with neighborhoods where at least one parent — and often both — worked at one of the Big 3 auto plants. They could afford a nice house with a garage, two cars, maybe a boat and/or a travel trailer, and possibly a cottage in northern Michigan. Many of these jobs were unskilled manual labor, and today those jobs have been replaced by automation. For example, an automaker’s body shop typically encompasses 40 percent of an assembly plant, and it’s where the actual body of the vehicle is built. In today’s body shops, you’ll see robots assembling the sheet metal parts and welding them together. There are actually very few workers, and the ones who are there are mostly highly skilled and responsible for keeping the robots maintained and functioning. Across America, there are many similar manufacturing facilities in a wide variety of industries.
So my question is, where are the jobs for the children and grandchildren of the auto workers?
At the same time, many of my current clients are complaining that they can’t get workers. Many of their unfilled jobs are entry level, with minimum skills required. I think Ton may be identifying a solution to match these two groups. She labels it the “good job strategy.”
Editorial Comment: Ton’s book is focused on fewer than 10 companies and features a variety of anecdotal stories. It doesn’t include the same type of rigorous surveying and data-gathering done by Jim Collins, Daniel Pink, Adam Grant, or Simon Sinek. Despite the limited research, however, she still provides a clear path forward for employers who want to adopt what she calls the good job strategy. The examples Ton bases her findings on are primarily retail, but as I read her recommendations, I believe they would apply similarly to many industries employing relatively unskilled workers.
So what is a good job? Among other things, it would pay enough to support a family (like those in Warren, Michigan, in the 1960s and ’70s); provide a stable and predictable work schedule (and, therefore, a more certain income); offer training; arrange for good benefits including health care; and make available opportunities for advancement.
Another Editorial Comment: Twenty-five years ago, Robert Kiyosaki, in his famous book Rich Dad Poor Dad — which is still the No. 1 personal finance book of all time — made the statement that history proves that great civilizations collapse when the gap between the haves and have-nots is too great. He goes on to say that, sadly, America is on that same course because we haven’t learned from history. (Wow, this is coming from a very well-known, successful capitalist!)
Ton expresses her observations with the following cycle: High labor budgets produce a good quality and quantity of labor; in turn, that results in good operational execution, yielding high sales and profits — which then enables great companies to experience high labor budgets.
Based upon her studies and those of other researchers, Ton offers four operational recommendations that she believes increase great companies’ profits to allow them to provide good jobs:
1) Offer Fewer Products/Services,
2) Standardize and Empower,
3) Cross-Train, and
4) Operate with Slack.
Here are just a few comments on each:
Offer Less — Ton makes a very compelling case to offer fewer products/services. Her reasoning reminded me of Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink — Why 40% of Your Business is Unprofitable and How to Fix It, by Jonathan Byrnes.
Standardize and Empower — These two approaches seem mutually exclusive, but Ton provides some very compelling examples of companies, like Toyota, that have successfully deployed both.
Cross-Train — This one is obvious, but often overlooked.
Operate with Slack – This recommendation suggests a bias toward overstaffing vs. understaffing. I can personally relate to this one, since Plante Moran very successfully adopted this approach. It is almost imperative in a growing company, which I believe most of you want to be.
In conclusion, this is a very complex, multifaceted business issue. If it was easy, I wouldn’t be posting this blog. But I’d like to appeal to all of you great employers to get the book, read it with an open mind, and implement the concepts in your company.
Successful Business Executives Don’t Need Positive Feedback/in Ideas to help you build a solid team/by Tom Doescher
The above statement/headline is a lie. In the past several years, I’ve become aware of a number of successful business owners/CEOs who aren’t feeling very good; in fact, they wonder if what they do really matters. From the outside, they appear to have their act together, they seem confident, and their results are spectacular. But something is missing.
I believe that “something” is positive feedback.
Some might say they’re making a lot of money, and that should be the only feedback they need. I don’t agree with that premise.
There are many situations where a CEO’s success is unknown, often due to confidentiality, even though they do many things deserving of public notice.
I’m not suggesting that more people should be brown-nosers. All I’m saying is that a simple note or verbal acknowledgement can make more impact than you may think.
Over the years, I’ve sent such feedback to extremely successful executives, and I admit I’ve been shocked at the obvious appreciation for my mention of their accomplishments.
I’d like to start a movement to provide private, appropriate feedback to business leaders, including those who appear to have their act together. We all need healthy, motivated business executives to lead us through these tumultuous times.
Trust me, it’s the right thing to do!
Rethinking Success/in Sharpening Your Personal Leadership Skills/by Tom Doescher
On June 8, Doescher Advisors was honored to have Doug Holladay, author of Rethinking Success, make a presentation to the Flint Business Executives Forum via Zoom. Holladay was actually in Manhattan, speaking with a group of successful business owners/CEOs, and stepped out of that meeting to spend some time and share his thoughts with us. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him on several occasions, and I always find his message challenging and thought-provoking. This time was no exception.
Here are four major takeaways and/or homework assignments he gave us:
1. Personally and/or professionally, you’re either having trouble, are just exiting trouble, or you’ll be entering trouble soon. To support his observation, Holladay quoted several sources, including the Bible, where Jesus said: “In this world, you will have trouble.” In other words, since trouble is inevitable, be prepared to deal with it and don’t be surprised when it happens.
2. Be your imperfect self. Take off your mask. Don’t try and pretend you’re someone else. Holladay provided several compelling stories to support his advice.
3. Holladay says he’s frequently asked, “What should I do with my life?” He answers that question by saying: First, think about what you liked to do when you were young; then, think about what other people said you were good at. Design a life that includes those interests.
4. Finally, Holladay challenged us to think about our moms and dads, and had us write down their individual strengths and weaknesses. Wait a day or two, then circle the traits that apply to you. Follow up with actions that will help you become the best version of yourself.
I believe Holladay’s book is a must-read for all business owners/CEOs. After you finish reading it and want more, check out his organization, PathNorth (pathnorth.com). You may have heard some of these thoughts before, but Holladay definitely manages to get my attention every time.