Firehouse Blog

From the Chief

On Small Business Management

terryblogIn a very famous book on business, the author argued through his research that the most important action that a business executive could do is get the right people on the bus. Initially, it’s far more important than where the bus is going. With the right people, you will get excellence whatever the destination. From my experience, that is terrific advice. However, getting the right people on the bus is the (relatively) easy part of the job. You interview, take referrals, talk to references and make the best hires. The very difficult part is getting the wrong people off the bus. And this difficulty, this reluctance to terminate employees, is often the root cause of poor performing businesses. And the root cause of all the other related bad news that comes with poor performance. Here’s why.

There may be little that is more important to the productivity and success of a business, school, or not-for-profit than the culture of that enterprise. Culture can be constantly improving, or it can wane and become a problem. Poor performing employees, negative employees and cynical employees destroy successful business culture in thought, word and deed every day. A business executive that fails to immediately deal with that situation is leading the rest of the business to poor performance or worse. It can mean reassigning their seat on the bus to a better match, dealing with the root cause of the negativity, or, ultimately, termination.

FirehouseBusStudies show that one negative comment from what we call ‘saboteurs’ will lower the emotions and productivity of a normal employee until they have had six positive interactions during a day. Constant negativity from one ‘saboteur’ in a department will lower everyone’s expectations and work performance. Yet, executives everywhere tend to gloss over, put up with and bargain with the wrong people on the bus.

Business culture is supremely important. Negative people ruin good culture. And the reality of people and personal interaction is that it’s simply easier to leave them on the bus.

Only the truly great companies get the right people on the bus and handle the very difficult and painful work of dropping the wrong ones off at the next stop.

 

Terry Corman
Firehouse CEO

Your Own Final Four

terryblogWatching college basketball at a very small, local university has become a welcome routine over the years. A couple of years ago, at the start of the season, the basketball coaches of all the teams put out their predictions. Our team was expected to finish sixth in the league that year. Ours is not a very strong or well-known league in college basketball.

As expected, our local college basketball team started the season like a second-rate team in a second-tier league. The wins were few, and the losses mounted until one particularly awful defeat against the worst team in the league. Our team was beaten badly, and the five-hour ride back from Detroit, I am told, was in total silence. That night, after the silent bus ride, one of the sophomore players stood on a chair in the locker room and offered up his appraisal of the team and the players.

By the post-season, our little team was on national TV facing Duke University in the final game for the NCAA National Championship in front of 70,000 fans!

YourOwnFinalFourHow could such an enormous change happen? What could transform a nondescript, losing basketball team into a powerhouse that beat every major university it faced in its trip to the Final Four? The truth is that the little basketball team had a lot of hidden talent. The starting center on the team went on to play professional basketball in Europe. Two of the other starting players are now enjoying careers in the NBA. The other truth is that the individual players didn’t recognize their own hidden talents. They didn’t know how good they were until they fully committed themselves to being the best basketball players and the best teammates they could be.

And so it is with so many teams and organizations and businesses. There is an incredible amount of hidden and untapped talent in this world. Most people are capable of so much more in life than they know. It’s just that they have never worked hard enough and long enough and with concentrated effort to see just how good they are.

Imagine now your own teammate standing on a chair in your locker room. Imagine that right now. He’s saying to you quietly, “I know we just lost to Detroit. I know they beat us bad, but get over it. We are going to the Final Four if you will just commit to it and work like never before.”

Your Final Four can happen! It can happen this season. You have to commit.

 

Terry Corman
Firehouse CEO

The Key to Success

terryblogImagine two planks of wood that are four inches thick, twelve inches wide, and each twelve feet long. One of those planks of wood is right at your feet in front of you, and the other is suspended between two ladders 70 feet above you. The plank on the ground ends on the ground twelve feet from where you are standing. The plank in the air ends twelve feet from the ladder you must climb to reach it in order to walk across the plank to the other ladder to bring you to the ground.

Walking the length of the board on the ground from one end to the other is no problem for most people. But the majority will never try to walk the board that is 70 feet above the ground. The skill set to walk on both boards is the same. The cost of failure on one is insignificant. The cost of failure on the other is catastrophic!

TheKeyToSuccessThis analogy holds true for much of what we do in life. The actual doing of most any project may not be that difficult, but most people are not willing to pay the price of failure.

There is another factor at work for an effort to be successful. Once a project is fully engaged, and lip service has been given to the price of failure, a trade-off has taken place. The trade-off for becoming successful is that you will have to give up something else you value.

So now we are going to describe the key to success. To be successful at any endeavor you must be willing to completely pay the price of failure, and you must be willing to accept the trade-off of time, money or personal relationships to meet your goal.

The price of failure, and the trade-off from current lifestyle enjoyment, are the two factors that prevent most everyone from living their dreams.

Dreams are all about outcome. Achieving dreams is all about paying the price.

Dreamers walk the plank on the ground in their minds with ease, over and over. Achievers climb the ladder knowing their lives will never be the same… one way or another.

 

Terry Corman
Firehouse CEO