Tuesday, December 18, 2018

That’s the way we’ve always done it!

During college I worked in a restaurant that had just hired a new general manager. He had trained at one of the large hospitality companies and wanted to work at the unit level until he went off on his own.

He was what you would call a very “new broom” and the one thing he made clear on his first day is that if he heard anyone use the phrase “we’ve always done it this way,” he/she would be well advised to start scouring the classified ads.

This restaurant had been stumbling of late, and if we were to fast forward to today’s reality television it might have been a candidate for chef Gordon Ramsey’s trademark wrath to help turn it around.

Within one month, the new GM had let go three servers and two bartenders he felt weren’t pulling their weight and had changed both the meat and seafood purveyors. Within six months the business had done a near 180 reversal and was even written up in the local paper.

One day between shifts I got up enough nerve to ask him the secret of the turnaround. To my surprise he asked me in the office, sat me down and proceeded to draw a clock on a piece of paper.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

It Always Catches Up with You

During a business law class in college, the professor said something that not only would remain with me the rest of my life, but I would experience in person several times.

We were dissecting a case study on a Fortune 500 company that he was not impressed with despite a better-than average track record on Wall Street and rising demand for their products.

He cited several infrastructure problems that scant few analysts had identified and told his captive audience “remember, volume hides many ills.”

Nearly 20 years later I experienced that first hand. I had just come aboard a B-to-B magazine as an associate editor. But there were problems - we were third in terms of revenues and readership in our market and the publisher was getting constant pressure from management.

But within two years, via a series of strategic hires, laying off ineffective ad salespeople and restricting travel, the publication not only turned itself around, it recorded the best year in the company’s 60-year history.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Five Most Hated Words

I once had a boss who, shall we say, lent new meaning to the word “impatient.”

His management style was from the old school – like Charles Dickens old school - and chances are when he asked you a question, he, like a good attorney, already knew the answer.

But if there was one phrase that ignited his temper like no other, it was someone offering the following as a defense for a miscue – “I didn’t think of it.”

When he once assigned a reporter to investigate why so many accidents seemed to be occurring at one intersection, and the completed story did not include quotes from either a local highway official or someone who had been involved in an accident, he heard those five most despised words.

The next assignment for that reporter was a local PTA meeting. And if any of you have ever had the misfortune of sitting through one of those, you would quickly understand what a field demotion that was.