Posts Tagged ‘business strategy’

Thinking about Winter, Snow, Holidays and Calories

November 12th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

The climate cycle continues in North America – it’s Winter in the mountains to the west of my office windows. Let’s review some of the scenarios that we might encounter for the next 5 to 6 months.

First on the list is the nuisance called Daylight Savings time: we need to change every device that displays time. The manual devices are fairly easy to remember and adjust; the electronic devices are going to be discovered for days after the change, then you either punch a teeny tiny button or unfold a paper clip to depress a hidden button multiple times and then repeat as you’ve over-corrected (sigh). It's 2 weeks since change and I'm still finding devices to correct 🙁

Next is preparing your vehicle: do you need to change tires or pack chains in your truck? Check to see if chains are required on any of the roads you travel and then you’ll have them if needed. How about your personal winter kit?

Red Cross, FEMA, state governments (Colorado for example) and even TV channels offer these checklists.

  • If your business has vehicles, your contracted maintenance provider should be ready to schedule checks on all your vehicles
  • YOU/your company’s insurance agent should have a winter driving review session for anyone that drives company vehicles.
  • Your company vehicles should add winter items to the existing emergency pack or check to refresh items already in the kit.

Third (or first) on your list are all the holidays coming up and what is your organizational vacation strategy or plan?

  • The company’s plan for shut down or limited operations should be published already.
    • Do you have an existing personnel strategy around those plans?
    • What is the mechanical plan for the shut down? Is this time for maintenance?
    • Have the Facilities and Security teams been involved with plan?
  • The individual vacation plans should be considered with the whole operation or team in mind. If a key person is going to be gone then what is the plan? Is their backup available? Has the training been refreshed?
  • Ensure all the phone and email notifications mention that the person is away from desk and the expected date back at work.
    • Avoid mentioning any personal travel plans due to safety/security of personal nature.
    • If a backup is available, mention that person by name and phone number
  • If company signage needs to be updated, schedule that task as soon as possible so it’s done when you close the door or the last person turns off the lights.

Next on the list is Calories to be consumed during the holidays:

  • If this means at a company sponsored event, be sure that you self-manage your plate and glass.
    • Company event planning is whole separate subject --- too many factors to discuss here.
  • Consider reflecting on your calorie intake in 24 or 48 hour blocks of time.
  • Plan for walks or exercise on a daily basis and keep to your schedule!
  • Don’t beat yourself for enjoying the flavors available, just be aware of portions.

Last on the list is ‘time for reflection’:

  • Take time to refresh & restore your energies
  • Take time to reflect on the good business during previous year; celebrate the good stuff!
  • What needs to improve? List any details you think of for the budgeting portion of the plan.
  • What are you going to do in January or first quarter? You have the space and time to think about those ‘grand pans’ now

Preparation for National Convention

November 12th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

I had the chance to go to my first trade show in the ‘disaster’ industry last month, out of town, and did not know if any local ACP chapter members attending. Ever Onward!

One has to consider the cost of attending one of these events – both financially and time-wise.

  • Will the education from speakers add to my mental and physical libraries?
  • Will my cousin be available to host me (offset the hotel bill)?
  • Can I get a good airfare?
  • Will I find interesting exhibitors?
  • Will I see anyone I know from other industries?

I did a quick review with my CPA on what would be deductible or not (and some items that are only 50% deductible), so I had the start of a budgeting process.

  • Entrance fee
  • Airfare
  • Meals not covered at event
  • COFFEE
  • Transportation back/forth to event
  • Trinkets to bring home

What to pack:

  • Appropriate layers for outside the event.
  • More layers for inside the ‘refrigerator’ convention center that will fit in my tote
  • PC, new travel surge protector, several thumb drives
  • All the charger cables for phone, PC and tablet
  • Comfortable shoes (2 pair) to switch each day
  • Materials to share (business cards, BCPWest rack cards and more business cards)
  • Folder with agenda, map/list of exhibitors and pre-event postcards and solitations

The trip report:

I registered during the first ½ day – out of 4, and while organizing my tote ran into several folks from the local ACP chapter! We had similar list of classes so we compared our ‘2nd choices’ and agreed to divide and conquer, sharing notes later so we had better coverage of the 4 days – yeah!

Several of the seminars provided handouts or links to grab the handout later – wise choice. The event also had links to several of the main speakers, but not full coverage. The fellow attendees were always checking their phones for ‘hot situations’ back home, so were interrupting with questions covered in previous minutes --- really irritating. I made a practice of checking email only on breaks so I could get the ‘full message’ while in session.

Exhibitor Hall was full of enterprise level products, so I challenged those companies to consider the smaller companies or the suppliers/vendors/contractors to the big companies – it takes all of them to keep production rolling. I had a list of vendors that I wished to ask about scaling for the small/medium business and found them to be interested in the conversation.

I have been listening to many webinars provided by several of the exhibitors and made sure to thank them for the continuing education – I have been able to forward several presentations to appropriate customers. The SWAG was normal stuff and I would load up on the last afternoon, so I would not have to carry the weight around and the exhibitors are willing to share so they don’t have to take home!

We are going to add a new tab to the web site called ‘Community Resources’ that will have listings, links and  descriptions of products or service companies that I have found over the years. These are NOT endorsements, merely information for you and your team to consider.

You need a community or several

August 15th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

Business owners need a place to cuss and discuss those items related to their daily or strategic business problems. That place is a ‘community’, whether it’s virtual or with a coffee/lunch group. A great example of ‘community’ is your local Chamber of Commerce.

Communities as described in Wikipedia:

FCChamberLogoA community is a social unit of any size that shares common values. In human communities, a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness. The word "community" is derived from the Old French comuneté or Latin communitas , a broad term for fellowship or organized society.[1] One broad definition which incorporates all the different forms of community is "a group or network of persons who are connected (objectively) to each other by relatively durable social relations and who mutually define that relationship (subjectively) as important to their social identity and social practice."[2]

BACoC-logoYour local Chamber of Commerce is a ‘community’. The geographical reach of a Chamber is defined by roads or highways or geography like rivers or mountains. You will find members of a Chamber that live in the immediate area and those that live at a distance with a connection to the area. Companies and organizations may have buildings or mobile workers. With the advent of internet technology the range of industries and job functions in the community is unlimited. One of the ways to connect or meet these folks is through the local Chamber.

The initial connections for me are those Chambers that remind me of small towns I lived in growing up and the larger Chambers are for the larger cities where I’ve worked. Community physical size is not the priority -- personal connections that build a ‘community’ are the pull!

Introductions during Chamber events have helped my business processes and growth. I know that because of the ‘community connection’ I could call or email those new acquaintances and have a discussion in confidence or for mutual benefit. After a couple of my speaking engagements, I have gotten calls from attendees with questions that would not have been asked in open forum and I was able to help with references or possible solutions.

There was a recent gathering of 6 area Chambers and it was a busy, loud event for several hours. The buzz of conversation with existing and new connections was energizing. The diversity of businesses and business owners/representatives was amazing – I learned so much! The pile of new business cards, names and businesses is still buzzing in my mind. I hope we’ll be able to re-connect and continue the conversations.

IF you are not inclined to join a Chamber of Commerce, you need to build a ‘community’ of your own – whether that is within your industry or geographical area, a business owner needs to be able to discuss and cuss with ‘like-minded’ people. You could get recommendations from your attorney, banker, CPA or insurance agent, vendors, sales reps or even Customers. For example, I am affiliated with Assoc. of Contingency Planners and Project Management International; they have monthly meetings, newsletters, free webinars that provide information and opportunities to converse with ‘like-minded’ people.

Business Continuity Partners of the West is focused on serving small and medium businesses because they are what make our towns and cities unique, colorful, and prosperous in more ways than money. We encourage those businesses to put some time into maintaining those elements of their business that might fail if not protected through good business continuity actions.

Are you prepared?

Vacation Preparedness at Work

July 7th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

Are you ready to leave work behind and relax during your vacation? The best insurance for that peace of mind is to prepare!

Schedule that time away as soon as you can; if the personal arrangements are fixed or flexible get on the company vacation schedule as soon as reasonable to get the schedule you would prefer. You will want to be considerate of others as you expect them to support your time away as you will have to support their vacation time.

  • Some industries or companies have ‘natural’ time that is slow for business and that might be the time your company requires you to take your vacation time – learn what those dates are.
  • There are school schedules to consider as your colleagues may have specific dates they can utilize if taking children on vacation. This is also tricky if a school district has a mix of traditional and year-round schools.

Whether your job is at a desk, in a vehicle, at a workbench or on the phone all day….
Your daily work processes need to be documented and your colleagues are aware of the document, if they are not trained to do your job.

The documentation needs to include:

  • The steps of your job – flow charts or pictures of each step would be nice. How to document that the job is done or who to report ‘job complete’ is essential.
  • Any project dates that your substitute needs to be aware of such as conference calls or completion percentage put in a database.
  • Who your contacts or vendors are that help you get your job done - examples of when or why you would contact them would be helpful.
  • Where you get your supplies or inventory – is there a checkout process, who needs to know you just grabbed the last of the items, how do you verify the supplies are of the best quality & who to advise if they are not best quality?
  • Safety information: first aid kit, fire extinguisher, etc. That paper cut or staple hole will bleed all over the place if you don’t get a band aid on it quick!
  • Who your immediate supervisor is and contact information.
  • Who is also trained (or cross-trained) to do your job.

** There is always a debate about leaving your contact information ‘in case’ someone needs to get in touch; that might be a phone call or schedule to check your email. Be sure to know these cultural requirements before you plan your vacation and for your traveling companions to know as well & respect that element of the vacation. For example, being in an electronic dead zone for 5 days might not be helpful if you have a requirement to be ‘in touch’ every 48 hrs. **

When you return, be humble about your time away. Don’t bring in the 3 DVDs of the island time or your grandchildren’s music recitals. One or two pictures in your work area will either be sufficient or give cause for a follow on conversation, if someone is interested.

Then get back to work:

  • find out what went right
  • what did not
  • And what the status is today

One organization I was with had a ‘vacation recap’ coffee session with treats provided by the person doing the report – that usually kept the monologue short and sweet! Then we did a reverse status update for the rested and relaxed colleague to jump right back into the work day.

AND then start planning for the next vacation!

Succession Planning - Part II

April 7th, 2015 by Mary Kay Hyde-Bohn

Succession Planning - Part II

Succession planning for your staff (leadership or team leaders) is a part of over-all strategy that gets included in the business plan and budget for the year &/or the 3 to 5 year plan (a longer time frame gives you perspective vs. reaction). You might consider this a jig-saw puzzle trying to fit all the pieces together; however it might be more helpful to consider this exercise lining up dominoes – if you move one player out of sequence it will have a cascading effect without immediate replacement of a similar player. You want to prevent disruption in operations, internal morale or external relationships by having a plan or a structure in place and known.
As you go through the process you should include key staff in the discussion including the specific department to be discussed and the department (HR?) that will update (or create) job descriptions and finance that will need to consider the salary and training budgets.
The questions to ask yourself or the leadership team as you build your strategy are:

  • What skills are needed in Position A? Position B? Position C, etc.
    • Is that skills list documented in any job description?
    • Has the skills list been updated in the past year?
    • Has the skills list been validated by person doing the job now?
    • Have the skills list been validated by internal staff?

 

  • Who has those (or most) of those skills now?
    • Are they a good cultural fit for the leadership team (or team leader)?
    • What additional skills do they bring to the position?
    • Who would fill their current slot?
    • Filling the skills gap is part of your staff development budget & schedule

 

  • Who can be backup or vacation coverage for Position A?
    • HINT: this is a great time to access a potential candidate with marginal risk to the company or either employee and to do a bit of cross-over or transitional training. It gives the potential candidate an opportunity to shadow the current position holder performing the job to see if it might be of interest or a good fit. There will be time to say ‘no’ at any point during the exercise; again with minimal disruption or risk to the company or the employees.
    • What information does the backup need to know?
    • Where is that information documented?
    • Who has access to the documentation now?

 

  • Who would like to be in Position A?
    • What are their current skills?
    • Are they a good cultural fit for the leadership team?
    • What additional skills do they bring to the position?
    • Who would fill their current slot?