A company I’m working with has made dumb-dumb mistakes three times in the past three weeks. They all relate to shipping, with packages shipped to the wrong clients or materials inside the package which are supposed to go to one client actually get shipped to another. In one case, the return address on our package came from a client because the guy who shipped the package from our office forgot to change the return address.
I’ve been working with these guys for months and have used a management style that doesn’t harp on people for mistakes. Mistakes are part of the process and have to be taken in stride.
But come on, mistakes in shipping are unacceptable, especially when it happens three times.
So I applied some pressure. I screwed things down just a bit. When one of the employees started telling me why and how the mistakes happened, I stopped him, and told him that I didn’t want to hear excuses and that the mistakes with shipping were unacceptable and couldn’t happen again. Period.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Nobody wants to work for a jerk.
But I had given these guys several chances to get it right. And they failed. They failed the company and more importantly, they failed themselves.
Our little conversation took no more than a minute. But it made an impact. They knew that any future mistakes were unacceptable. And I was able to accomplish this because I had spent time building my relationship with them. I had built my credibility with them. I had given them the benefit of the doubt. I had taken a cool, level-headed approach to management.
So when push came to shove (and shove I did), they got it. And I now have two people in the organization that will operate on a different level, or at least understand that they have to in order to make it in a company that’s changing. The beauty of it is that they may tell other people in the company which only helps spread the word that we’re stepping things up a notch.
Successful companies are led by people who drive (in rare cases, they drive the company right off the cliff) but those who drive are most successful, because they never give up and they never let up.
The benefit of having a driver leading the company is that you are constantly evaluating the team of employees you have. Some of those employees will step up and enjoy the ride, others will decide that they don’t want to be part of the carload of people, and still others whom the driver will drop off at the next rest stop because they simply don’t belong in the car. Trading up your employees is the quickest way to positively impact the business and good drivers will always surround themselves with the best people. After all, who wants to be on a road trip with people that aren’t going to enjoy the trip?