HerSpectives® on Careers

Monday
Aug062012

5 Signs Of A Weak Company Or Organization

Are you able to flex your company muscles? Or are is your company getting sand kicked in it’s face? If you find yourself pushed around by customers, without a strong plan for growth, easily slowed by the smallest obstacles, you need to read this post.

Today’s post is not from Business Women Rising. It is from another blog called FixBuild&Drive.  I’m re-posting it here because I feel everyone may benefit from this information. Whether you were unaware you were part of a weak company or not. Hope you like it :)

Some companies are powerful and seemingly unstoppable. Others are unpredictable, slow to adapt and, well, weak. These weak companies have a number of signs that you can spot. Whether you are the CEO, a board member or a Junior Manager in training. 

Maybe you are an active job seeker trying to decide if a company is right for you.

About the Author:

Tim Tyrell-Smith focuses on marketing, brand development and business strategy for emerging and established organizations. A veteran executive in consumer marketing, Tim is also available as a professional speaker on marketing, branding and the purposeful use of social networking. Tim started his marketing career with Nestle USA and has since worked in product management on premium brands including Nestle Quik, Tree Top Apple Juice, Mauna Loa Macadamias and Meguiar’s Car Wax. He was most recently Vice President of Marketing for a private equity owned food company in Southern California. He lives with his wife and three kids in Mission Viejo, California.

You can look for these signs in your company:

1. A passive CEO 

Whether it’s your company or one you are watching, you want an engaged CEO. The problem here is the CEO that manages the company via email, conference call and by using messengers. Easiest sign to look for? They rarely leave their office. All meetings happen in there, food is brought in there.  And, depending on the company’s size, the bathroom is in there. While there’s a lot that can be done from the desktop or dashboard these days, you can’t really measure the energy of a business, offer praise or understand who the best people are when you are locked in a bunker.

2. Arms length customer relationships 

Let’s be honest, it’s easier to hang out “at the HQ” and wait for the sales team to provide their quarterly customer updates. Everyone on the HQ end gets to criticize the sales team for their handling of the recent product launch.  But the truth is that customers have somewhat complicated needs. While we’d like to say it’s simply about product quality, fair pricing and quick response, there’s a lot more to the relationship.  Especially if you are the sales person trying to serve two masters – the company and their customer. But this is true for a small business as well (if HQ and customers hang out in the same place – like a dry cleaners). You can build greatloyalty through customer service that engages people.

3. Product lines or services that are no longer relevant

It’s easy to hold on to products for too long. And to offer a service well beyond its value. We do it because of habit, loyalty or emotional attachment.  And sometimes because one or two customers demand it. But if you took the time for a strategic pause you might find that you don’t need them anymore. And you might find that other adjacent antiquities are attached (software programs or inventories) that can also be cut free. You do this through a rationalization program. A project that “rationalizes” every product line or service and forces it through filters to determine whether it can be justified. Often a company cut lines, expense and services with a much smaller loss of revenue than feared. 

4. Bloated and expensive inventories (product companies)

Of course you may need to be in accounting, marketing or warehousing to notice these problems, but they are significant. While they can pop in otherwise strong organizations, they are strongly evident in the weaker ones. These are symptoms of unsuccessful product launches, poor purchasing practices and inconsistent badly informed forecasting systems. These inventories suck up cash and take up valuable space.  Just sitting there.

5. A sales team without focus or training

I meet them all the time. Nice people with or without sales experience struggling to sell. But that’s their job. The lack of focus is obvious when you ask (yes, even big companies) “What is an ideal customer? And what are you doing today to identify and find/engage with more of the them?” And it’s not just about a lack of focus and training. Weak organizations leave their sales team out in the cold. Without the proper training, a clear focus for establishing new business and often, not much to sell (see #3 above). And some companies lack something as simple as a business or brand promise (i.e. a clear statement to differentiate their company from everyone else in the market).

Of course there are other signs of weakness. We could talk about cash flow, a disengaged board of directors, poor or abusive culture and others. If you want to look for a more complete list, you can order a marketing audit. In it you’ll find all sorts of potential areas to mark for improvement.

 

What signs do you look for in a weak company or organization?  Does your company show any of these signs?

Thanks  chrisbulle for the photo via Flickr

About the Author:

Tim Tyrell-Smith focuses on marketing, brand development and business strategy for emerging and established organizations. A veteran executive in consumer marketing, Tim is also available as a professional speaker on marketing, branding and the purposeful use of social networking. Tim started his marketing career with Nestle USA and has since worked in product management on premium brands including Nestle Quik, Tree Top Apple Juice, Mauna Loa Macadamias and Meguiar’s Car Wax. He was most recently Vice President of Marketing for a private equity owned food company in Southern California. He lives with his wife and three kids in Mission Viejo, California.

Friday
Aug032012

Codifying the Correlation of Women Directors and Good Stock Performance

Codifying the Correlation of Women Directors and Good Stock Performance

By Elizabeth DiltsContactAll Articles

Corporate Counsel

August 3, 2012

http://www.law.com/jsp/cc/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202565869692




© Dmitry Sunagatov - Fotolia.com

Investors are better off with companies that have female directors on their boards, according to a new report published by the multinational investment bank Credit Suisse.

The finding was echoed by similar reports from at least three other organizations, all published in the last few months, giving the movement to get more women directors on the boards of public U.S. companies its biggest boost of legitimacy yet.

“Credit Suisse has said it, McKinsey said it, Deloitte has said it,” Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane notes, referring to a report that focused on the same issue for European companies by the international management consulting firm McKinsey & Company [PDF], and Deloitte’s report on corporate gender diversity in Australia [PDF]. Laurent-Ottomane is a leader with the 30% Coalition, a group striving to get the percentage of women directors to reach 30 percent by 2015. “Who else do we need to say it for it to be true?”, she  asks.

A third report [PDF], by the Committee for Economic Development, was released in July.

Just over 16 percent of directors for Fortune 500 companies are women, according to a 2011 report by New York-based nonprofit Catalyst, which works to increase opportunities for women in the workplace. Only 10 percent of directors worldwide are women, according to a report published by GMI Ratings, an independent research firm that addresses issues of corporate governance.

The Credit Suisse report, which references the studies by Deloitte, McKinsey, and others, analyzed the performance of 2,360 global companies over six years, focusing on one key question: Does increased gender diversity within corporate management correlate to better company performance? When like companies are compared, stock performance is better and less volatile for companies that have at least one woman serving as a director, it found.

Companies with at least one woman on the board averaged a return on equity that was four points higher (16 percent versus 12 percent) than companies without, and they also saw better average net income growth of 14 percent over 10 percent. For stocks with a market cap greater than $10 billion, “companies with women board members outperformed those without women board members by 26 percent,” according to the study.

However, the report stopped short of concluding that women on boards necessarily cause stable or better share price: “None of our analysis proves causality; we are simply observing the facts.”

“It’s a little easy for some who wants this argument to work to say these studies prove that board diversity is going to make shareholders more money,” but it’s more nuanced than that, according to Tim Smith, senior vice president and director of ESG shareowner engagement at the Boston-based Walden Asset Management. Smith is also a representative for institutional investors signed on to support the 30% Coalition.

But reports like this legitimize the perspective of groups like the 30% Coalition that there is a quantifiable financial benefit to gender diversity in the highest reaches of corporate leadership, Smith says. The bigger challenge is to sway directors who frequently say talented women aren’t available.

Beth Brooks, the global vice chair of public policy at Ernst & Young wrote about raising the presence of female directors in a recent post on the website for Business Ethics magazine: “Yet to bump the percentage of U.S. board seats filled by women up by one percentage point, it would only take about 50 women joining the boards of these companies. There is no doubt there are far more than 50 qualified women interested in U.S. board seats right now.”

Brooks couldn’t be reached for comment, but her post was in reference to a report published in July by the Committee on Economic Development [PDF], which argued that U.S. companies stand to fall behind European ones because their lack of female directors makes them less competitive.

Six countries, including Norway and France, have mandatory quotas for female directors. This spring, the European Union started a comment period to assess public opinion for an E.U.-wide quota. Not surprisingly, the Credit Suisse report found more European companies have three or  more women in boardrooms than North America companies. This is significant because proponents of gender diversity say that three women in a room of 10 directors is the proportion at which the behavior of a group begins to change [PDF]. Fewer women in a group of 10 have less impact on the group.

While few 21st century businesspeople would say women executives harm a company’s performance, how much they help increase value is still debated. In a paper published in January, “Does Gender Matter in the Boardroom? Evidence from the Market Reaction to Mandatory New Director Announcements,” researchers from universities in New South Wales, Queensland, and Hong Kong found “no evidence that the market reacts to female director appointments.” However, where that information is highly publicized or mandatorily disclosed in the company’s proxy statements, like in Australia and the U.S., market reaction is positive and significant.

It remains to be seen if this latest report will be interpreted as a true bulwark of support for groups lobbying for more women directors or if the status quo will remain. But Smith said directors’ attitudes towards groups like his have changed since even 10 years ago, when it was common for directors to blame all-male boards on a lack of qualified women candidates.

“In spite of what I consider a perfect storm of factors, you’ve seen the statistics, and they’re flat,” Smith said. The report found more than half of the world’s IT companies have no female directors, for example. “What gets us from here to there without having quotas like European companies?”

It’s individual groups like his, he says, that politely but firmly tell directors, ”We’ll be on your doorstep, respectfully pushing you to make this change.”

Monday
Jul302012

Top 10 Reasons To Promote From Within

What is the purpose of working extremely hard everyday at work, being the first one in the office and the last one to leave?  Do you do it hoping your boss will just “notice” all the hard work you are doing and that it will eventually pay off with that big promotion?  It seems that nowadays more people are being recruited from outside the company into higher positions, as opposed to promoting from within. Are you aware that one major difference between men and women is that men tend to ask for promotions, while women don't tend to ask? Rather, women expect to be recognized for their contributions...they expect their astute boss to offer them a promotion in recognition of a job well done. We know that isn’t always the case.  

Here are the Top 10 Reasons for managers to promote from within:

1.  The first and maybe most obvious reason is the employee excels at their current job.  This may be based on objective performance reviews and measurable results.  It is apparent that they consistently perform.

2.  The employee has earned the respect of their coworkers. Someone who is hated or mistrusted by everyone in the office or who just does the bare minimum does NOT deserve a promotion.

3.  The employee is able to analyze situations and come to the table with solutions.  Companies want to promote those who are helpful to them, and are offering deliverable ideas and solutions to issues at the organization.  

4.  The employee cares about the company and has a PASSION for what they do and what the company stands for.  It is easy to tell who at work loves what they do versus those who just go through the motions to get their paycheck.  Those who have the passion will work harder because they ENJOY it.

5.  It helps with team morale if others see their peers being promoted.  The rest of the team will see that their hard work does pay off and they too may be promoted.  Think of it as a motivational tool.

6.  If you aren't offering promotions to your top talent, someone else in another company, such as your competitor just might.  Once that happens, you are very likely to lose that employee.

7.  The company saves on hiring costs.  Retaining more employees saves on the costs of turnover.  Less of the company money will be spent on recruiting and finding new employees. The money can be instead spend on increasing profits.

8.  If a company only promotes from within, top talent will then want to work for that company.  If the company has a reputation of not only retaining employees but also allowing them to climb the corporate ladder, others will flock to apply, knowing that they too can climb to the top.

9.  These employees were obviously hired for a reason to begin with; why not build on the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA's) you originally saw in them? They can only improve.  Time is better spent improving the current employees' KSA's as opposed to identifying new employees with "potential."

10.  The longer an employee works at a company the more they know about it.  They know the lay of the land, know all the policies, and even know most of their coworkers.  New employees waste time merely trying to learn the names of their coworkers and getting settled into their new roles.  Those who have worked in the company for a longer period spend their time more productively and actually WORKING.

It is in the company's best interest to get the most return on investment (ROI) possible from each employee. This often means developing them and promoting them into positions that will offer them more autonomy and responsibility so they can do more for the company. 

When assessing the cost/benefit of retaining an otherwise motivated employee who becomes disappointed because they aren't being recognized as a valuable contributor in their current position vs. the cost/benefit of promoting and retaining a highly motivated and engaged employee consider that a promotion can often serve as the catalyst to drive even greater motivation and engagement....not only to the employee who received the promotion but for others, who then see what is possible if they perform well. 

Are you a manager in a company who has been questioning whether to promote one of your current employees versus hiring outside the company? Hopefully the reasons above made your decision a bit easier.

Special thanks to Deb Boelkes, Cheryl Archer, and Deborah Van Huis for sharing insight for this blog post! 

Jacqueline Dandan is the social media coordinator at Business World Rising and a recent college graduate from Loyola Marymount University.  She majored in Business Marketing with a Minor in Spanish, and loves being back in Orange County!

For more information about Business World Rising or how to choose or become a better role model, please contact us today.

Oh, and please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter :)

 

 

Monday
Jul162012

5 Questions On The Need For Role Models in Business

A role model is someone you can look up to in life and in business. 

How?

Here are a few simple ways:

Of course, you can have role models for a variety of different purposes.  Did you know there are positive and negative role models?

The Positive Role Model:

You can aspire to be like your positive role models.  It may be that you want to behave like them, to have a personality like theirs, or maybe treat people the way they treat people.  But realize that it may be difficult to find one person that embodies all the characteristics you ideally want to be like!

The Negative Role Model:

Negative role models are those you do not want to be like. If you pay attention, it’s not hard to find negative role models. But it is highly recommended to have more positive than negative role models.

You may find that you will have many different role models throughout your life that have something in particular you admire and aspire to be like them. It is highly recommended to have more positive than negative role models.

We asked Business World Rising CEO Deb Boelkes for her take on the need for and best use for role models.  Here’s what she said:

Q: We have all heard of the need for a role mode, what does it mean today to have one?

A: Deb Boelkes:

  • A role model speeds your progression and your transformation into becoming who you want to be. 
  • When you find someone who is behaving how you aspire to be, this makes your transformation quicker. 
  • In some respects having a role model is imitating someone, in order to achieve success.
  • We see qualities that we desire in ourselves that we otherwise may not have known we desired.

 

Q: How do you suggest someone go about finding a role model? 

A: Deb Boelkes:

  • There are so many different places you can find a role model, such as work or in your community. 
  • There is no lack of places to find role models; they can be found virtually anywhere.
  • It is more about knowing what it is that you are looking for so that you will know once you see it.

 

Q: Should a role model be older than me and in my industry?

A: Deb Boelkes:

  • Though role models are typically older than you, they do not have to be.  Sometimes great role models can be peers of yours. 
  • Actually since I have gotten older I have found people that are much younger than me, and that I think can refine myself. 
  • It is not necessary for a role model to be in your industry.

 

Q: Do I need to know them, or can I just watch what they do and learn?

A: Deb Boelkes:

  • You do not need to know them, it depends on what it is you are trying to emulate.  If you are trying to understand how they behave and act, it helps to get an up close and personal view. 
  • There are times you may just see people on stage or television for example.  As long as you can observe the characteristics in them that you want to emulate.                       

 

Q: What are some examples of your personal role models?

A: Deb Boelkes:

  • My grandmother is one of my role models, she was a very astute and elegant business woman.  I felt she was perfect in everyway; I loved how she looked and treated people.  To this day I wish I was more like her. 
  • My father is also a role model of mine; he was the CEO of a company.  He taught me how to behave like a CEO and how not to behave.
  • Other role models are people I have worked with throughout my life, some positive and some negative.  For the most part I have had role models that have been very close to me

 

Role models inspire you to transform into the ultimate person you want to be.  You observe and imitate their positive characteristics.  Role models can also come from virtually anywhere, whether they are younger than you or have passed away.  A role model is someone who you wish to emulate, and if you succeed will make you better. 

Do you have a role model? If so, how have you emulated them?

Are you a role model for others? How have you modeled positive actions?

Jacqueline Dandan is the social media coordinator at Business World Rising and a recent college graduate from Loyola Marymount University.  She majored in Business Marketing with a Minor in Spanish, and loves being back in Orange County!

For more information about Business World Rising or how to choose or become a better role model, please contact us today.

Oh, and please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter :)

Monday
Jul092012

Culture Trumps Strategy

Thanks to Caryn Siebert, CEO of Carl Warren & Company and Grande Vista member, for recommending the article "Culture Trumps Strategy". In this article, published in the Third Quarter 2012 edition of Bellwether Magazine, author Bill Wiersma reminds us how important corporate culture is. Culture can literally make or break a firms ability to achieve the corporate strategy. Click here to check it out!  

Would love to hear your thoughts on this...comments?