Category Archives: Business Brief

Business Brief March 5, 2013

Selling Epiphanies

Volume II, Issue 3, March 5, 2013

A Good Name

Recently I had the good fortune to assist one client with mediating a contract dispute, another client with the sale of his business, and yet another client with reorganization, positioning them to secure a rather large line of credit. Consulting assignments are not out of the ordinary for a consulting firm, however what was out-of-ordinary, and my good fortune was that they didn’t need to be sold … they ask for my help. A good name is priceless!

No matter what the cost is to acquire a new client, whether its $100 or $1000, you can lower it by increasing the number of clients that come looking for you.  What if you could lower your advertising budget by 50% or your R&D by 20% because the latest gimmick wasn’t why a client would chose you over your competitor… would you be interested? Investing in and promoting employee exceptionalism is the answer to driving people to your door and lowering your acquisition cost! A trusted expert is what your clients are looking for.

Here’s a thought… contract a CPA for the day to educate your team on the latest tax laws/changes (too many to list here). You may not want them passing out tax advice, but they would now know enough to raise the right questions with a client to stimulate deeper discussion, and perhaps better equip them for the tax battle ahead. That client tells someone else and they tell someone else… get my point.

Most organizations track the number of referrals an employee “gives” to another employee. I say track the number of referrals an employee “gets”! I developed something called a Personal Trust Ratio (PTR) that tracks how your employees are trusted within your organization and within the marketplace… high PTRs means lower cost to acquire!

It’s tax season, we can all use a little help and a lot of tissue.


Business Tips… delivering success

To Motivate Change, Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate The Negative

Katya Andresen COO and CSO at Network for Good    |    February 28, 2013

Imagine this. You’ve had a bad day at work. For months, you’ve been trying to persuade everyone to use your new electronic form to submit expense reports. No one is complying. In frustration, you send out a mass email. “Only 5% of staff has used our new forms. We need to do better,” you say. Bad move.

Why? When we are deciding whether to do something, we typically look to see what others are doing (“social proof”). As Robert Cialdini has thoroughly documented, we’re compliant creatures. If we see everyone else is ignoring those new forms, we’ll ignore them too.

If you lament that no one is listening, no one will listen. And by emphasizing inaction, you discourage the very behaviors you’re seeking.

So if you say, “Many employees are stealing paper clips, and so we’re running short on supplies,” you can bet the natural reaction will be, “I’d better get mine before they are all gone!”

If you want action, make people feel they are a part of something positive: “We’re aiming for 100% of forms filled out by Friday – and we’re on our way there.”

If you’re at a nonprofit that’s attracted hundreds of donations when you wanted thousands, don’t say, “Fewer people have supported our cause this year. So many kids are going without lunch. We really need your help.”

Say: “Your donation will provide a school lunch to Jason every day this year. Join the hundreds of donors supporting kids like him.”

The power of social norms is why I feel for companies like JCP or Groupon. The negative press about their results creates an impression fewer people are buying, which in turn likely discourages more buying.

Here are three tips for turning your frustration over what isn’t working into a message that compels action – instead of more inaction.

1. The number one thing you can do to overcome resistance is to celebrate and publicize the people who are taking action. It will help inspire the ones who aren’t.

2. If you don’t have enough people to highlight, try getting just one – preferably a person who people respect (or who has authority). Ask that person to explain why he or she is taking action. Maybe you’re not the best messenger and that person would be better.

3. Last, if you can’t succeed on those fronts, try to convert just one regular person. Then ask that person to explain why they changed their mind. Converted skeptics are the most motivating of any messenger for the people who have failed to act. The people who aren’t on your side are more likely to relate to someone who once felt like them.

Bottom line? Accentuate the positive if you want a positive reaction.

Resources… building on exceptionalism

Essortment    |    March 5, 2013

How And Why To Work For Employee Empowerment

An organization can do nothing without productive employees.    A new method of management is employee empowerment.  Engaging the people responsible for the work processes-the people who know the processes best is where quality starts.

Some believe that employees work only to be monetarily compensated.  If they are unable to be an integral part of the organization, this may be true.  Allowing employees to have autonomy and feedback within the organization is what makes the empowerment process successful.

Employee empowerment does not mean that management is no longer responsible for performance or for leading the organization.  Rather, in an employee empowered organization, management’s responsibility becomes to create and foster an environment in which it is apparent that employee input is desired and cultivated.  The management must trust and communicate with employees. 

One of the strongest indicators of employee empowerment is communication.  What is good communication?  Consider what management feels is adequate, then multiply by a factor of ten.  Only a small number of employees will accept the invitation to become more involved in the beginning.  It will take time for others to come around.  Some will never respond.  Management must work to convince the largest number possible.

A key phrase in employee empowerment is participative management.  Participation and satisfaction are strongly linked with motivation and performance.  Small groups of employees who work on solving specific problems (employee involvement teams) are one approach to participative management.  These types of teams have proved effective in many areas, including resolving problems related to quality and productivity, and improved employee morale and job satisfaction.

Empowerment requires management to delegate more responsibility directly to employees.  It recognizes the potential of employees to identify problems and to devise actions to solve those problems.  Workers must be involved in the decisions which affect them.  Empowered employees should know what to do in an empowered business, not expect to be told.

The primary role of management in an empowered organization is to support and encourage employees.  However, many supervisors resist employee empowerment.  They fear it will lead to their losing authority and, ultimately, their jobs.  Most resistance to empowerment comes from middle management.  Managers argue that not all employees are qualified to make decisions, as well as unable to get the big picture of the organization.

There are several approaches to solving the problems of management resistance to empowerment.  One is to provide managers and supervisors with training to cope with the organizational change.  This training should enable them to see that their responsibilities are not being eliminated-merely changing.  Another method to reduce resistance is to allow managers the opportunity of setting, measuring and evaluating performance with their team members.

One of the most important concepts in empowerment is to delegate responsibility to the lowest levels of the organization.  The responsibility for a discrete part of the work process should be assigned to individuals or work-designed teams.  The success of a program is based on its ownership by employees and their power to make changes.  Management must value employee suggestions and input and make decisions and changes accordingly.

Employees are the most important asset in a business.  Empowered employees experience satisfaction in their accomplishments.  They have a sense of responsibility and the knowledge that they are important to the organization, as well as a sense of being responsible for decisions that affect themselves and other employees.  They have a sense of ownership, which is how empowered employees should feel.

Knowledge Sharing… having an edge

There are three primary drivers of competitive actions and responses: awareness, motivation, and ability. understanding a competitor’s competency in each of these drivers will help to predict the likelihood of an attack by that competitor and their response to actions taken against it. You have to know your enemy if you are going to defend against it.Your environment and your customers are always in flux; don’t be caught off guard. Change is constant, but you can minimize the impact of “unexpected” change by staying attuned to your environment. Your framework for success is operating within a HEM; your buffer is establishing and adhering to preparedness benchmarks. Building this buffer around your framework for success will keep you alive when others die.  (Chapter 5)

“Knowledge in itself serves no purpose; knowing what to do with what we know and doing it brings the result.” L.Seamans

In The News

U.S. Consumer Spending Up; Income  Falls by Most in 20 Years

Published March 01, 2013   |   Reuters

U.S. consumer spending rose in January as Americans spent more on services,  with savings providing a cushion after income recorded its biggest drop in 20  years.

The Commerce Department said on Friday consumer spending increased 0.2  percent in January after a revised 0.1 percent rise the prior month. Spending  had previously been estimated to have increased 0.2 percent in December.

January’s increase was in line with economists’ expectations. Spending  accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity and when adjusted for  inflation, it gained 0.1 percent after a similar increase in December.

Though spending rose in January, it was supported by a rise in services,  probably related to utilities consumption. Spending on goods fell, suggesting  some hit from the expiration at the end of 2012 of a 2 percent payroll tax cut.  Tax rates for wealthy Americans also increased.

The impact is expected to be larger in February’s spending data and possibly  extend through the first half of the year as households adjust to smaller  paychecks, which are also being strained by rising gasoline prices.

Economists expect consumer spending in the first three months of this year to  slow down sharply from the fourth quarter’s 2.1 percent annual pace.

Income tumbled 3.6 percent, the largest drop since January 1993.

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Current News & Events

(December 17, 2012) HOUSTON, TX – Seamans & Associates announced today that Human Resource expert Robyn Brend has joined the firm as Senior HR Consultant and Benefits Director.

(November 19, 2012) HOUSTON, TX – Seamans & Associates announced today that financial expert Debbie Hankins has joined the firm as Senior Regulatory and Compliance Consultant and Audit Division Director

Read More