While there’s much to the subject, it is—at its core—nothing more than planning WHERE things are going, figuring out HOW to get there and keeping the “ship” ON COURSE.
It’s also a matter of keeping WHAT WORKS “in” and throwing what DOESN’T WORK out.
In other words, if policy “X” or Procedure “Y” moved you CLOSER to your final destination, management would make sure these are regularly APPLIED. If they moved you AWAY from your destination (i.e. didn’t work), they would be quickly DROPPED.
With this in mind, why aren’t there more good managers or executives?
While I can’t answer this question exactly, I can hopefully provide a little more insight into why and how to be a better manager yourself!
People have ideas, some good…some bad. Where these become a problem in a manager or business owner is when these ideas aren’t matched up to the current business scene; in other words, when these ideas are implemented without being paired up with honest observation.
I remember meeting with a client a few months back. They had THE NEXT BIG THING that was going to drive in oodles of new patients. New idea—untried. Upon discussion, I discovered what prompted this idea was that their new patients had dropped off—severely—for four months. They were convinced they needed to do something FAST.
So, I asked them what they were doing when their new patient statistic was higher. They made a list of the various internal and external marketing actions that they had in place. There were about eleven separate, definable actions (e.g. newsletters, a referral program, etc.).
You can probably guess my next question: “Which of these actions were still in place/happening regularly?”
Ok….wait for it…
THREE. Out of eleven, only three were still being done!
When they saw this, they (along with me) were shocked!
So in essence, we:
- Had a very smart person. (This is a successful doctor, mind you),
- Were about to drop tons of money on THE NEXT BIG MARKETING IDEA,
- Without any idea that what HAD BEEN WORKING HAS BEEN MORE OR LESS COMPLETELY STOPPED!
The handling was simple. Put back in what was working and if you still want to try this NEXT BIG THING, start off slow, without dropping what was working.
All that was missed here was OBSERVATION.
And if I had to pick something that I would improve in every executive I’ve trained (heck—even in myself), it would be that skill.
The ability to OBSERVE; to LOOK and see what you see. Not what you want to see. Not what you hope to see and not to warp what you see into something else.
Just to see what is ACTUALLY there. Nothing more. Nothing less. Raw statistics, what’s actually happening.
This ability by the way is a great source of comfort.
(Related: 4 Profitability Killers in a Dental Practice)
How does this go wrong? Well, let’s say you decide to implement a new marketing idea. Looking closer a month or two later, you see it’s not working—returns are far lower than projected. That’s not good. So, what do most do? They say to themselves:
“This can’t be happening, this has to work, because I thought it would. It must be some other reason—i.e. the reception is messing up phone calls, (or whatever). So I’ll just keep doing it because it must be right, as I thought it up!”
This is the road to trouble and potential financial ruin.
Better bet: “Wow, that didn’t work! (laugh) Learned something there! Better find out why it didn’t and never do that again!”
Most successful people have had their fair share of abject failure. But – in the end they succeed far more than they fail. And in many cases they’re not any smarter than someone who isn’t as successful. They’re just willing to admit when they’re wrong, change, and move on!
So it’s really simple: if something’s working, keep doing it! If something was working or growing and drops off (i.e. production, new patients, etc.) before you turn on the “Red Alert,” do me a favor: LOOK. See if you are still doing what worked in the first place. I bet you nine times out of ten you aren’t!
Slam what was working BACK IN before you jump off into a bunch of new ideas. And don’t get me wrong, new ideas are great—BUT DON’T DROP WHAT WORKS FOR SOMETHING NEW. INSTEAD, DO BOTH.
With all that said, if you find something isn’t and never has worked—that’s a different story and a different set of actions that we’ll cover at another time.
So, want to be a better manager? Then:
- LOOK. Observe before you change a thing!
- Be willing to be “wrong,” (you might find things turn out “right” more often!)
- Keep what’s working IN and drop what’s not! This of course requires that you actually identify what’s working—which goes back to “1” above!
Hope this helps!