Today: How We Nurture Relationships and Build Our Networks

One of CBRT’s core values is RELATIONSHIPS.  March Round Tables shared the experiences keeping relationships connected during these unusual times. 

Thirteen Round Tables shared solutions surrounding the human resources challenges our business are facing today. For your convenience, notes from the chapter meetings have been recorded below for you to review. 

Key ideas and solutions shared by our Round Tables:

  • The atmosphere of personal meetings (when they happen) can be awkward.  A suggestion:  Several mentioned in-person events they had attended that provided colored wristbands to indicate the level of interaction a person was open to (i.e. green for hugs, handshakes; yellow for elbow bumps; red for no contact). 
  • From a Grand Rapids Round Table:  We talked about the challenges the pandemic has created in terms of relationships and networks and focused on the importance of making it a priority to be proactive in investing in these relationships not just for what we can get out of them or how they can benefit our own business needs and goals, but also to demonstrate a personal commitment to the welfare of others and to mutual benefit.
  • From the Plymouth Round Table:  While personal meetings with clients/vendors are still hard to get, we must continue to pursue these meetings—without being a nuisance.  As time passes, we need to increase in-person interaction to be most effective.
  • Communicate honestly, exercise compassion and understanding.  There are varying opinions regarding Covid practices.  We need to find common group to continue to build our discussions and relationships.
  • From the Kalamazoo Tuesday Round Table:  Make one day per week your in-person meeting day.   Embrace the positives.  Virtual meetings can increase efficiencies in scheduling meetings and decrease travel costs. 
  • More from Kalamazoo:  Each Sunday evening, make a list of 10 people you can personally connect with in the upcoming week.   Reach out by email, call or even text to remember their personal issues/concerns, check on their well-being.
  • Be willing to listen.  Be open to hearing new solutions. 
  • Use forced downtime to improve operations excellence in working remotely and improving culture.  Think about mutually beneficial solutions and give grace to accept that employees have personal lives.

Other ideas & resources: 

  • For more information on the Naples conference referenced during our Global Round Table:  Hillsdale College Freedom Forums freedomforum@hillsdale.edu  Peggy Youngs 888-886-1174.  Hillsdale also offers the Imprimis newsletter and other free information. 
  • There is a new government program ERTC (Employee Retention Tax Credit).  Check with your tax advisor for details.
  • Suggested groups/organizations/publications:  Purpose Point” organization (Davin Salvagno), sunrise Networking Group, Rodger Price YouTube videos, St. John the Evangelist Church in Naples, FL. 
  • A positive attitude is essential to surviving these difficult times. 

Our next webinar/Leadership Event will be on Friday, April 16 at 7:30am.  See the Events Page to register for this FREE event.  If you are unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can review all past event presentations.

Get the latest information on next month’s Round Table venues on our website.  Options will include hybrid, in-person only or online only.  

Join us at an upcoming Round Table meeting!  RSVP to info@thebusinessrt.org to receive a meeting link or location near you.

Solutions for the HR Challenges Keeping Us Awake

In February 2021, our 13 Round Tables shared solutions surrounding the human resources challenges our business are facing today. For your convenience, notes from the chapter meetings have been recorded below for you to review. 

Key ideas and solutions shared by our Round Tables:

  • Working from home is a skill—some are successful, but some do not have the focus or motivation to work independently.  Connection with employees through virtual methods can help monitor activity.  One suggestion is to hold the entire workday on Zoom; i.e. employees available to each other for collaboration at all times during the workday. “Start Zooming the whole office.” For some businesses, the idea that “If you’re not on screen, you’re not working” might be appropriate.  Visual meeting formats may also engage employees to a greater degree. 
  • Leadership may be using COVID as an excuse for staffing changes.  Instead, we should be using this time to identify and fix organizational flaws and problems.
  • Anxiety in employees.  High emotion and fear are present in our workplaces today.  Conduct 1:1 conversations with employees to understand and address issues.
  • How do we return to productivity?  Results matter.  Leaders must have clearly defined responsibilities for their teams.  Every company is different, but leaders must define, track and follow up on goals and expectations.  Be clear what roles must be done on-site.  Utilize daily targets and goals.
  • What’s the plan to get people back into the physical workplace?  “Come on in, the water’s fine!” 
  • Waiting culture.  As leaders, we need to be decision-makers and a driver for business success.     When we are “stuck” and cannot find a way to move forward, we need to turn to God to ask what HE wants us to do in the next 24 hours.  Then hopefully He’ll give us another 24.
  • From the Global Round Table:  Employee attendance issues.  Many jobs are available, but people are not showing up/doing quality work.  Solution:  Continue to keep your funnel of potential employees full.  Keep hiring, keep potential hires engaged.
  • Returning your team to business passion—where is your fire?  It may be time to return to cracking the whip while being as compassionate as you can be to move forward.  Offer empathy and support for employee concerns as reasonable. We need to change the direction of waiting and disconnection in our teams.
  • Overcommunicate on the issues that drive business performance. 

Other ideas: 

  • Human Resources/people discussions at the Round Tables also led to open discussion on general business struggles like keeping the faith during what is for some a challenging business climate.
  • Additional comments from Birmingham RT:  CBRT attendance by virtual means today lends itself to greater relationship investment—the leaders in attendance clearly truly want to be here.  CBRT is here to help participants solve problems and support each other as we lead in Christ.

Our first Leadership Event in 2021 will be a Global Webinar on Friday, February 26 at 7:30am.  See the Events Page to register for this FREE event.  If you are unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can review all past event presentations.

CBRT Round Table venues will be changing again for March—for the latest, always check our website for your group details.  Options will include hybrid, in-person only or online only.  

Join us at an upcoming Round Table meeting!  RSVP to info@thebusinessrt.org to receive a meeting link.

January Theme: Goals & Plans for 2021

For our January Round Table meetings, participants joined an open discussion on the topic of “Goals & Plans for 2021.”  For your convenience, notes from the chapter meetings have been recorded below for you to review.  In our Round Table virtual format, groups shared how the unprecedented challenges in 2020 are impacting planning for 2021.

In January, CBRT also introduced The Global Round Table, a permanently virtual group designed to be joined by participants in any geographic location. 

How are our Round Tables planning for 2021?

From Birmingham Round Table:  Leaders may be seeking clarity at this time, as they create a top-down environment of calm and intentional direction.  Focus on small goals and alternate solutions, to give a sense of accomplishment. Alternately, consider the legacy goals—focus on the legacy plan if that makes more sense for your organization.

If your workload has lightened due to the pandemic, capitalize on the opportunity that open calendar creates.  Learn how to manage an updated team.  Be present for God.  Pause and reflect—reprioritize what is really important.  Suggestion:  use the Benedictine model to reflect every three hours.  Don’t stress out about those things you cannot control.  Make sure your foundation is strong and build on that.

Fear is rooted in uncertainty.  The Bible tells us that we are God’s children.  Evil is not prevailing; it only seems that way when Christians take a backseat.

From the Global Round Table:  Remember what you learned during a previous hard time.  If you survived before, you can do it again!  Consider where God wants you to join him right now.  Listen, give of your time, money.  We may not be comfortable right now, but slow down and be thankful for specific things.  Daily reflect on 25 things that impacted your heart.

Leaders, reassure your people. Be the light. Jesus came to serve.  How will you serve?

Where does God want you right now? He is our only Truth. Use your listening skills to develop the trust of your team—especially if your team is growing.  Seek first to understand, regardless of the position of the speaker.  Then quietly execute God’s will.

More suggestions:

Jay Ott, Chairman of the Grand Rapids Thursday Round Table reminds us of 1 Chronicles 12:32—a tale of tumultuous times and crisis in leadership, plus a reminder that God will inspire our minds and spirits to understand today’s challenges and discern God’s new vision for our organizations and our leadership.

Jack Kelly and his Lansing Round Table discussed the December Gallop poll showing those positive mental health changes in those who attended church weekly.  An article in the Daily Caller describes those results.  

Other ideas: 

Be a force of good in the community.

Stay positive and grow.

Try to relieve anxiety and stress within your team and in the community.

Our first Leadership Event in 2021 will be a Global Webinar on Friday, February 26 at 7:30am.  See the Events Page to register.  If you are unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can review all past event presentations.

Due to ongoing Michigan pandemic response, our February 2021 Round Table groups will meet Virtually, via GoToMeeting.

Join us at an upcoming Round Table meeting!  RSVP to info@thebusinessrt.org to receive a meeting link.

December Discussion…plus creative solutions!

For our December Round Table meetings, we continued the open discussion on the topic of “What’s Your Biggest Challenge?” For your convenience, notes from the chapter meetings have been recorded below for you to review.  In our Round Table virtual format, groups shared current challenges in the business environment that are arising out of the ongoing pandemic.  Several Round Tables combined for December, to create new dynamics for conversation and fresh connections.

Frequently mentioned challenges:

Starting new businesses in a pandemic environment.

Motivation issues with staff that may not be putting in full effort in remote settings, not caring about rules, regardless of that impact on others in the company.  How do you keep employees from getting “safety fatigued?”  “If it’s on your walls, it must be in your halls” slogan—live the rules your company is preaching and make sure staff knows you are adhering.

Questioning of leadership in our organizations, political leadership.

Making time for the important things—our teams are working from home with kids that are working on school at home, impacting everyone’s time management. How do we take care of our families and get the work done?  Chaos may be the new reality—how do we operate in this?  Take it a day at a time and make a schedule that works for today.

Some industries are struggling with finding and keeping staff due to changing state mandates.

As leaders, how do we deal with work that’s not being completed?  We need to be accommodating and empathetic, while still keeping our companies afloat.  Openly ask employees to identify and share roadblocks and challenges so we can pick up the slack for each other and be aware of tasks that may not be getting handled.

One leader had a suicide in his organization two months ago.  This has changed his mindset to encourage others to “lighten up” and keep morale up.  How do leaders recognize mental health issues in the workplace?  How do leaders make sure these are addressed?

We are all tired.   Tied of creating new plans and strategies, tired of the required flexibility. 

Creative Ideas & Solution Suggestions:

Draw strength from each other, pray together and for each other (Round Table connections, family, friends, other believers).  We need to come together even stronger to deal with these challenges.

Rely on core values:  We are driven by a higher power.

Change your mindset from “I have to” to “I get to.”

Make a phone call, send a handwritten note—unexpected communication can be very impactful.

Adapting to lockdowns and the current environment:  Don’t be obsessed with fear and doubt.  Upskill yourself to make sure you stay on top of business needs. Call someone every day. Pull out your contact list and work with the people you know. Get people around you excited—its contagious. 

Celebrate wins together with your teams.

Teach calming techniques.

Own what you are working on and welcome debate in a n organization to bring in fresh ideas.  Have the courage to stand up for what you believe in, even if it doesn’t withstand the conversation. 

Into 2021:

As a reminder, our next Leadership Events are scheduled to be Virtual and Global, for maximum impact.  Please save the following dates:

February 26, 2021 Virtual Leadership Event with HR Resource Panel (Q & A Style)

March 19, 2021:  Annual Summit featuring speaker Bill Kieffer

April 16, 2021 Virtual Leadership Event with speaker Brig Sorber (Two Men & A Truck)

If you are unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can review all past event presentations.

Due to ongoing Michigan pandemic response, our January Round Table groups will meet Virtually, via GoToMeeting.

Join us at an upcoming Round Table meeting!  RSVP to info@thebusinessrt.org to receive a meeting link.

November Challenges and Successes

For our November Round Table meetings, we held an open discussion on the topic of “What’s Your Biggest Challenge?” For your convenience, notes from the chapter meetings have been recorded below for you to review.

In our Round Table format, some virtual and some in-person, groups shared current challenges in the business environment that are arising out of the ongoing pandemic.  These challenges spill over into our personal lives as well.

Some are experiencing business growth and having throughput challenges and staffing needs

Others are facing challenges in acquiring business—especially consultants.  Engagements have been cancelled. It is hard to financially support CBRT when clients have been lost.

Some leaders report having lost employees during this time, creating lasting emotional and business effects.

Many are now encouraging their teams and reminding them that their activity today impacts the rest of the team down the road, even while we are very slow today on new prospects. The funnel of business takes a few months to trickle down.  Suggestions from groups include keeping the game face on and share success stories with the team to keep them motivated. 

Team building can be a challenge when workers are remote. 

Change and compliance are key issues.  Pandemic “rules” change periodically, and it may be difficult to assess the level of comfort people have with meeting in person. As with traffic rules, we need to learn to have faith in others on the road—trust that they will follow social norms to keep us safe.   We are challenged with keeping the workplace safe and clean to allow employees to feel safe. Those working in person have a power in collaboration that you’ll never get with the workforce at home. Some are finding that remote staffing can be efficient and work well, but some tasks are difficult to accomplish remotely.  There are varying degrees of fear, spiritual challenges, and we are working in an unusual environment that we’ve never dealt with before.  We need to work together to get through this and remember that the battle belongs to the Lord.

Accelerated pace of change in many areas—constant change and state of flux.

There are challenges in convincing CEOs to accept the new reality and develop communication models that work today.  In the near time we must develop virtual skills and platforms to accommodate possibly not going back to office before July 2021.

We struggle with being seen as a priority by clients—selling in the new world.  We must keeping communication flowing, give our clients interim structured steps that they can do, instead of asking for immediate POs or moving towards a quick close, which may result in no gains whatsoever and you get nothing as the weeks go by.  Our job is to move people forward, always selling.  Even if it is through baby steps. 

Think of clients in the Filter System—profile client more than ever to determine their current business status.  1.  Are you doing business as usual through COVID?  2. Are you pushing work into next year?  3. Are you pushing back work indefinitely?  4. Are you mitigating risk by doing something today to stay afloat (baby steps)?

More Key Ideas from our Round Tables:

  • How to lead another leader who is not directly accountable to you
    • Use the process of self-discovery by asking questions to guide them.
    • Be bold and blunt when necessary.
  • How to handle when the team pushes back to change.
    • Soft sell with encouragement.
    • Establish and reinforce the Core Values.

As a reminder, our next Leadership Events are scheduled to be Virtual and Global, for maximum impact.  Please save the following dates:

February 26, 2021 Virtual Leadership Event

March 19, 2021:  Annual Summit

April 16, 2021 Virtual Leadership Event with speaker Brig Sorber (Two Men & A Truck)

If you are unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can review all past event presentations. Be sure to turn on your notifications so that you are the first to know when Ron Kitchens’ presentation is available!

Due to ongoing Michigan pandemic response, our December Round Table groups will meet Virtually, via GoToMeeting.

Join us at an upcoming Round Table meeting!  RSVP to info@thebusinessrt.org to receive a meeting link.

Impact in the Community

In the October Round Table meetings, we discussed the topic of “Providing Impact in the Community.” For your convenience, notes from the chapter meetings have been recorded below for you to review.

As a reminder, our next Virtual Leadership Event will take place Friday, November 6 via GoToWebinar, and will feature Ron Kitchens, Senior Partner & CEO of Southwest Michigan First. He will be speaking on “Preeminence: Characteristics of High-Performing Organizations.” Spaces are limited, so click here to RSVP for this FREE event, compliments of our generous sponsors!

If you are unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can review all past event presentations. Be sure to turn on your notifications so that you are the first to know when Ron Kitchens’ presentation is available!

The October Round Table notes are below:

  • What should be the impact of business leaders in their communities?
  • What are ways that leaders can enable their employees to serve and make an impact in their communities?
  • What opportunities are available in your community?
    • United Way, Chamber of Commerce, church groups, etc.
    • Brainstorm and share ideas of what you’re doing.

Birmingham Group – Thursday:

Key ideas:

  • Make a list of people to reach out to. This might be employees, customers, suppliers, friends –and their families. “Just checking on you.”
  • Word of love.
  • Pay it forward.
  • Encourage hope and trust God.

Kalamazoo Group – Friday:

Key ideas:

  • One of the primary community opportunities is within your own family–preparing your kids to be a positive impact on the world.
  • Be a beacon of care, compassion and love.

Additional points:

  • Do the work (without boasting and bragging) and note the motivation for the action.  Like Samaritans’ Purse—let people know that our love for Christ makes us willing to do work and help to better our communities. Make a Connection to racial/social injustice as a Bible-believing Christian—when I am seen pushing for this effort it turns heads and gets a little more attention.  Bring a Biblically- based/balanced Christian perspective.
  • Remember that things are a little different than last year.  Isolation, depression, anxiety fear, suicide rate increase.  What have you have done in the past, and how will you change your community service activities in today’s environment? Change has occurred, we are more detached, so how do we get more engaged in our communities moving forward?
  • As employers and leaders we can enable employees to serve & make an impact in their communities. Look at leadership relative to employee well-being.  Gallop research shows community is just one of 5 aspects of well- being (engagement and connectivity). What are we doing to foster that?  Time off for community service, supporting work/life balance, other tactical solutions in the context of taking care of our people.  There is a tremendous emotional impact of current events on our communities, driven by fear.  Be aware of the services provided in your community.  Know what existing programs might help your own employees. Local food bank, church programs, help cut through red tape and connect them with what they need–don’t need to reinvent the wheel.   Provide hope, identify issues.
  • Consider reaching out to Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes, Gospel Mission (serving Thanksgiving dinners).  Shelter and food are some key needs. Samaritan’s Purse is phenomenal and projects Christ in the community.  Volunteer for CBRT.
  • Though our municipalities vary in size, we all have some similar needs. Unemployment is off the charts. Look internally:  what is the condition of your employees and their families?  Have a listening ear regarding meeting the needs of those closest to us. Be proactive in giving extra days off, sending food, ministering to sick employees, send notes to them.  If our employees are not cared for, it makes it harder for them to reach out beyond our companies. Focus on others’ problems—that takes your mind off your own problems. Focus your passion to help someone else helps your soul.  Find a way to tie to your company’s Mission/Vision/Values to your outreach.  This will engage employees and fosters greater passion.  Help them look beyond their own needs and contribute to the meeting of other people’s needs. Ask how your outreach in the community reflects your company’s values.  There is no shortage of opportunities—the harvest is plentiful, but workers are few—use whatever gift you have received to serve others.  Create your own pay it forward story. You will be richly rewarded for the gift you give to someone else during these times of challenge.  Take action:  Identify what we are aligned with and move forward to make a difference.  Have the courage to implement a plan to bring it to reality.  Oxygen mask concept:  We are no good to others until we put our own mask on first.  Care for the well-being of your employees to allow them to serve elsewhere.   

Join us at an upcoming Round Table meeting!  Several groups are working to begin meeting in-person and/or as a hybrid of in-person and virtually. For more information or to RSVP: info@thebusinessrt.org.

The Road to Recovery

In the June Round Table meetings, we discussed the topic of “The Road to Recovery.” For your convenience, notes from the chapter meetings have been recorded for you to review.

As a reminder, our next Virtual Event will feature Bryce Harbaugh, Co-Owner of Midwest Management Systems, on July 24th. Bryce will be speaking on “How Serving Others Equals Success in Business & in Life.”  Spaces are limited, so click here to RSVP!

If you are unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can review all past event presentations. Be sure to turn on your notifications so that you are the first to know when Bryce’s presentation is available!

The June Round Table notes are below:

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)

How do we get our people back?

  • Company survey to review employee’s feelings on returning to work.
  • For one company, less than 20% of employees feel safe to come back to the office. Out of 160 employees, only 15 want to come back — in spite of being a predominantly young company. How do we encourage our people to return to a routine and still respect their concern?
  • Many are wanting to stay home indefinitely. When employees were asked what their concerns were, some admitted that it had nothing to do with COVID but that they simply liked working form home with the new-found flexibility.

Phases of bringing people back to the office:

  • Be as diligent as we can. Have answers for their concerns: protocols, timing, etc.
  • Plan for a “soft launch”: Don’t require them to come back right away. Simply allow it as an option.
  • Consider hybridizing between working from home and working from the office.
  • Offer flexibility on their time in the office. Remember, one of the draws of working from home is the flexibility and the ability to arrange their work day as they want to.

How do we maintain company culture through Covid:

  • Foster collaboration
  • Virtual happy hours
  • Virtual trivia nights
  • Rest on core values to drive your strategy.
    • Make your client’s experience one of your core values. It doesn’t matter whether that experience is virtual, in person, at home, or at the office. As long as employees are embracing that value, they will provide a great experience to your clients regardless of where they are.

What other challenges have presented themselves as we try to move back into the workplace?

  • Business has fundamentally changed. Many businesses have had to shift their focus to areas of the market that were not initially their primary targets.
    • For instance, some companies had an increase in demand in products that were not initially their bread and butter product (such as waffle makers). Other companies have switched to making PPE. Will that demand continue? What consumer behavior will remain and what behavior will change after COVID?
  • How do we tackle the work we’ve taken on to survive during the crisis while also getting back to the work we were doing before?
  • Some companies have moved from wholesale to retail which changed the work flow and process for them, but has been positive in terms of business.

How does our faith support and guide those challenges that we’re facing?

  • Our faith is our only source of stability right now.
  • This situation has allowed faith and religion to become more common in workplace discussions. Prior to Covid we could only demonstrate our faith through actions, but now we have more opportunities to share with words.
  • Changes in personal faith: previously tended to say “this is what I have, this is what I’m doing. Lord please bless it.” Now we’re asking “What do You want from me today? Where do You want me to spend my time?”
  • We cannot possibly predict what will come next. It is faith only that will carry us through.

Takeaways:

  • Understanding that we should not shape our own plans and simply ask for God’s stamp of approval. We must leave ourselves open to God’s leading.
  • God is going to use this situation, but we have to listen, watch, and learn.
  • Digging deeper into the reasons people want to stay remote and figure out if that will be part of the change.
  • None of us have the ability to know how this will turn out. We’re all in the same boat and there is some comfort in that.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)

What new challenges or opportunities have developed for you or personally in these last 3-4 months during quarantine?

  • The lockdown has provided more time to work on writing and creating new materials.  
  • Taking time to reflect and exercise some self-awareness.
  • Focusing on becoming who we need or want to be in the future rather than simply staying the same.
  • New opportunities for growth for industries such as financial advising, securities, technology, etc.
  • This situation has forced us to utilize technology that we always had access to but never pursued.  
    • One member who works with people with disabilities said their organization was forced to quickly create an online sales platform, adapt to virtual case management, and finding ways to support their clients long-distance. The quicker this can be done, the better.

How have you changed your business model? Will they be long lasting or short term?

  • Remote work will continue long term. This may lead to businesses getting rid of their offices to save funding or simply because they don’t need them anymore.
  • How do we network in this new world?
    • Virtual meetings
    • Send a Starbucks gift card and tell them to enjoy the coffee on me.
  • In the short term, our business models have all changed, but it will need to remain fluid with the governor dictating what is allowed.

What are some of your fears in the midst of this?

  • Many people are losing their jobs.
  • Fear that the governor will not let us re-open.
  • Uncertainty on whether our clients will be back once we reopen.
  • With unemployment being so high and businesses being shut down, there is a concern over how young people fresh out of college will get hired for work experience.
  • Will the small businesses make it? They’re the lifeblood of our economy.
  • Social media has become so divisive. There are no peace makers.
  • Fear is a part of our life. We must combat it with more time in prayer and relying on each other. Be thankful in all things.
  • Challenge: discover what you can be more thankful for: kids, wives, husbands, families, relationships in business, running group, fellow employees, staff members, technology etc. He has and will continue to provide for us in this time.

What are some of the positives?

  • The emphasis on personal relationships. Learning what is really important to us. Increased relationships with family members, friends, neighbors etc.  
  • It is breeding creativity and adaptability.
  • A newfound respect for teachers from parents. Parents had lost respect for teachers but now, with the homeschooling, they’re realizing just how hard of a job it is.

How do we come alongside others during this time?

  • Reach out to friends, family, colleagues to simply ask them how their doing.
  • Social media has been a blessing and curse:
    • Cons: there is been a huge divide that has been exacerbated by social media. As Christians, we need to reach out and try to bridge the gap through helping others and sharing positive posts on our pages.
    • Pros: It has kept us connected through lockdown and has even had a huge hand in helping local businesses.  It has been a valuable avenue in promoting takeout availability from restaurants. People have been organically trying to support the businesses that have suffered.

Join us at an upcoming Round Table meeting! RSVP to info@thebusinessrt.org.

Leading & Managing Through Crisis: The Path Forward

CBRT Teleconference Forum Notes

“Leading & Managing Through Crisis: The Path Forward”

April 24, 2020

Panelists

Paul Brinks, President & CEO of Koops, Inc.

Paul Hindelang, President of Results Systems Corporation

Jason Walther, President & CEO of Walther Farms

Jamie Clark, President & CEO of Clark Logic

 

Panel Topic 1: What can businesses do to get through this crisis?

  1. Determine whether or not your business is considered essential. Who do you serve? Are any of your customers or clients considered essential?
  2. Establish strong communication with your customers/clients. Call them to ensure that you understand what they are going through. This will accomplish two things:
    • It will help you to determine whether or not they will remain a customer during and/or after this crisis. Do they have the funds to continue buying your product? Will they still be in business at the end of this? Without checking in with them, you may be surprised to find out 90 days from now that you don’t have any customers.
    • Secondly, reassure your customers that they can rely on you for their supplies/services. Communicate what safeguards you have in place to protect the supply chain.
  3. Determine what areas will provide the most revenue. All industries are being affected differently. For instance, the food industry has seen a decrease in demand for products sold to restaurants, but an increase in demand for snack foods, potatoes, potato chips etc. Focus your efforts on the areas that will ensure cash flow.
  4. Get online. Prioritize this if you do not already have the ability to do online transactions
  5. Be innovative. Look for the opportunities in the midst of this crisis.
  6. It’s all about relationships. The relationships we build today are going to be what carries us forward.
  7. Continue on with business as usual as much as possible.

 

Question from Attendee:

Question: My company is a lighting & engineering firm. Since the shutdown, we have started producing PPE materials; however, we do not want to become known for that. How can we take this opportunity without losing our reputation as a lighting & engineering firm?

Answer:

  1. Clearly communicate your intentions to your customers. Establish that you are doing this temporarily.
  2. Protect your brand. Keep the original brand and mission in front of your customers.
  3. Watch your money flow. If you invest heavily into PPE and your customers start purchasing those supplies from you, you will be in the PPE business whether you want to be or not. Monitor your money flow closely to determine if you are getting too far off track.

 

Panel Topic 2: Revenue

  1. Determine which projects have the highest margin. Focus all of the energy in your company on that work.
  2. Consider liquidating inventory items. Sell it for immediate cash needs.
  3. Prepay contracts if possible.
  4. Agriculture has been in recession for 5 years, at least. It has forced companies to find every possible way to reduce fixed cost. So, even before the pandemic, that was a big priority. We budget, watch the cash flow very closely — at least monthly.
  5. In order to receive revenue, you must put the billings out there.

 

Panel Topic 3: Billings & Accounts Receivable

  1. Review your Accounts Receivable. Categorize them into three categories: A, B, & C.
    • The “A” accounts are those who will likely pay on time.
    • The “B” accounts are those accounts that you aren’t quite sure about.
    • The “C” accounts are those who are high risk. Work on the high risk accounts immediately to get as much cash from them as you can because, if they’re not in business 90 days from now, you may not get anything from them. Try to get as much out of them as you can while they’re still in business.
  2. Put tools in place to fully understand your cash flow. Review your customers billings from the stand point of 30, 60, 90 days so that you fully understand where the cash will or will not be.
  3. Know where your break-even point is. Look at this once or twice a month.
  4. Have a strong team behind you.
    • There is a completely different emotional behavior in AP vs. AR. Your team must be able to wear two hats. First, they must put on their hat to try to collect AR, then put on their AP hat which is deferring payments.
    • Take a team approach. Sales, business development, etc. all have different contacts and relationships with the customers.
  5. Strive for a commitment from the customers. Any commitment. For instance, the customer may be late, but can they pay half in 30 days? What about 20% this week? We may not get 100% of what we’re after, but something is better than nothing. Just continue to be sensitive to your customer’s cash flow needs, while communicating yours as well. Note that this is not something you can do on a monthly basis. In some circumstances, you may need to contact customers weekly or even daily.
  6. Utilize technology to help communicate and maintain timeliness.
  7. Stay calm. Have compassion. Remember that on the other end of the line is a person dealing with the exact same thing you are.
  8. Be flexible and creative. If you’re in real estate and a tenant can’t pay for the next 3 months, consider extending their lease by 3 months.
  9. “Proper preparation prevents poor performance.”

 

Question from Attendee:

Question: How can/should we be handling the government’s very one-sided response to COVID-19?

Answer: Koops, Inc. has a daily meeting to discuss all of these topics. We’re focusing on staying informed. What is the recent legislation coming out of Lansing? How can we work with our legislators? When appropriate, we have talked with them, sat in on webinars, and are trying to form a partnership with the government.

 

Panel Topic 4: How can we avoid layoffs?

  1. Consider reducing work hours. For instance, Koops, Inc. has reduced their hours from an average of 45-50 hours per week down to 36-40 in order to spread out the work and conserve. You may need to shift roles a bit to keep people busy, but this will help to keep the balance of protecting livelihood and health.
  2. Don’t make emotional reactions today. Stay calm and look long term. Don’t alter your company culture as a result of all of this.
  3. Clark Logic experienced something similar last April when two of their biggest customers decided to make changes. We can’t do anything about that. It was looking as we were going to have to lay off employees at that time, but we decided to reduce their work rather than laying them off completely. Remember, there are 26 million American’s laid off through this… Put your people first.
  4. Make sure your team is working on productive activities that will generate revenue in order to keep your company viable long term. Most people are not used to working from home and being self-starters, so it is very important to require your people to keep a record of their time. Have them record the date, time, and the amount of time they are spending on the particular activity. Is that activity billable or is it internal? This allows them to track themselves on whether or not the activity is truly beneficial.
  5. Review your processes. Look for opportunities to improve your organization. You may find that certain processes should not continue and should be eliminated when this is over.
  6. Automate as much as possible.
  7. Some businesses are starting their PPP program, but their people are not being productive or do not have any work. Is this viable long term?

 

Takeaways & Input from Attendees:

  1. There has been a lot of talk today about maintaining communication with your clients and suppliers. Do not forget about your banker. Make sure they understand exactly what you’re doing, your business model, and tactics you’re using to manage and work your way through this. If there is anyone who doesn’t like being surprised, it’s a banker.
  2. Many people are struggling with managing their employees remotely. My team is remote already. As a leader, you have to know your deliverables. You will be able to see whether or not your team is being productive.
  3. This circumstance is like a wakeup call to all of us. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 tells us that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. In the same way, no one was ready or prepared for this. It shows that we need to strengthen our business practices if we haven’t already.
  4. Be creative. Status quo is not good enough anymore. We must be creative to evolve our business to the next level.
  5. Focus on viable work. One attendee has a customer who owes them a lot of money and has gone silent. Now they have to make the decision on whether or they should continue work on that customer’s product. We all must keep on an eye on these sorts of clients and make sure we don’t continue to throw money at an account when it is unlikely that we will be paid.
  6. Maintain the culture. In these situations, you can get a really good understanding on which members of your team really get the culture.

 

CBRT will be hosting another FREE teleconference forum on May 29th. Our topic will be “Current Challenges & Future Opportunities: The Road To Recovery.” If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Christa Moxon at christa.moxon@thebusinessrt.org. If you would like to sponsor the event, please visit our website for more details. We look forward to having you join us! 

The How & Why of Leadership Development

In the June Round Table meetings, we discussed “The How & Why of Leadership Development.”

As a quick reminder, our next Leadership Event will feature Bill Kieffer, President & Chief Advisor of Kieffer & Associates, on August 16th at the University Club. Bill will be speaking on “Dealing with the Unexpected in Business & in Life.”  Click here to register and save your seat!

If you are unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can review all past event presentations. Be sure to turn on your notifications so that you are the first to know when Bill’s presentation is available.

Below are the notes from the June Round Table meetings.

Plymouth Round Table

Q1: Why Do We Need Good Leaders?

  • We need leaders to provide direction and focus.
  • They provide the necessary guidelines for the team.

Q2: What Traits Make a Good Leader?

  • Decision makers
  • Strategic thinkers
  • Visionaries
  • Absolute integrity
  • Strong ethics/values
  • Courageous
  • Influential
  • Accept ownership/responsibility
  • Good communicators
  • Support the team

Q3: Can Everyone Be a Good Leader?

  • Not everyone possesses the skills to be a good leader. Similarly, not everyone wants to have the responsibility/ownership that goes along with leadership.
  • However, everyone should strive to be a leader within their area of involvement and skill set.

Q4: How Do We Develop Good Leaders?

  • Lead by example to clearly communicate the desired leadership style.
  • Clearly communicate the leadership objectives.
  • Demonstrate steadfast support for the leaders that you are developing.
  • Do not belittle well-intentioned mistakes, offer understanding and support.
  • “Ask, don’t tell. Show, don’t yell.”

Q5: Does it Take a Good Leader to Develop Another Good Leader/s?

  • Yes – If the person developing the future leader is apathetic or lacks integrity, the new leader will follow-suit.

Q6: How Important is Coaching? What Works Better, Rewarding Good Behavior or Punishing Bad Behavior?

  • Coaching and nurturing are very important to leadership development. We should be focused on the success of the future leader, which will result in the success of the team. Positive reinforcement yields far greater success and reduces the fear of failure. However, it is the responsibility of all leaders to quickly recognize a subversive person who is not committed to successful leadership practices, or a person who is not capable of meeting the leadership situation that they are in, and remove them from that situation for the good of the team.

Takeaways:

  • It is always important to remember that we are supposed to do God’s will, leading as God would want, which may be in conflict with our personal style or business goals. We will all have to answer to God eventually for our business practices.
  • Example: Henry Ford built a huge business empire at the expense of his family life and was generally perceived by society as curmudgeon and an un-loving father. While his business principles in-general were sound, how he executed them often left something to be desired.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Tuesday)

Q1: Why Do We Need Leadership Development?

  • For our teams:
    1. It is not realistic to expect someone to come in cold and immediately know how to lead. Stop focusing on your need for a leader and develop a leader.
    2. Leaders often become an island to themselves without focusing on developing their managers into leaders – but we can’t do everything ourselves. We must empower our teams to support us in facilitating growth, improving efficiency, and protecting the values, vision, and mission of the company.
    3. Developing our employees will improve employee retention. People often don’t realize their own potential and helping them to realize their ability is a gift in itself. Your employees will appreciate this investment and will likely extend loyalty to you and the company.
    4. This development will ultimately make our employees better leaders throughout society and this has the potential to change the world.
  • For ourselves:
    1. As a leader, “You have to work on the business not in the business.” But you must have time in order to do that. Remember, if you don’t have anything in your bucket, you won’t have anything to give.
    2. Being a leader is often isolating and can make it difficult for our personal development, but we must find those who can help facilitate our growth. We must seek out avenues for this through books, or at church, CBRT, etc.

Q2: How Do We Develop People?

  • There are many models that incorporate mentorship, training, seminars, DISC surveys, etc. But the most effective method is personalization. Spend time learning about your employee and asking a lot of questions. What are their goals and aspirations? What are their experiences?
  • Teach them how to analyze their failures and turn them into opportunities for growth. This can be done through sharing your own experiences of failure and demonstrating how you handled it.
  • Once you have spent time developing and demonstrating to them what you expect from them as a leader, you must give them opportunities to practice. Give them more responsibilities starting first with low risk projects and increasing from there.
  • Remember that leadership development is like a garden: you must plant, fertilize, water, weed etc. in order to receive the harvest. It is the same of our employees. Nurture, develop, and cultivate.

Takeaways:

  1. Be purposeful & proactive
  2. It takes a lot to develop a leader – we must be comfortable with difficult conversations
  3. Your investment is worth the time & risk
  4. We must be the leader we expect them to be
  5. Take a chance on someone

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)

Q1: What Are You Doing to Develop Yourself? 

  1. Seek out mentors
  2. Attend CBRT and other similar groups
  3. Read books
  4. Read Scripture
  5. Seek out feedback
  6. Spend time on self-reflection & awareness
  7. Practice self-leadership
  8. Identify something that scares you and go at it. Get out of your comfort zone.

Q2: Why Leadership Development?

  • Leadership development is essential for the health of our companies. We can’t grow and sustain that growth on our own. We must build strong, lower-level leaders throughout the company to help support our vision & mission.
  • Unfortunately, many mistakenly think that seniority equals competency in leadership. The two are not synonymous. Most people lack the understanding of what leadership actually entails, so it is our job to teach them no matter how long they have been with the company.

Q3: Is Leadership a Skill or Innate?

  • Influence seems to be innate; however, everyone can be developed. Some simply have a cap on how far they can or want to go. They may not end up being a leader of the company, but they can be developed into a leader in their sphere.
  • We must have a workplace culture where we value the development of all employees.

Q4: Can Everyone Be a Leader?

  • We often apply the term “leadership” to a specific role, typically in a company.  However, everyone is/can be a leader somewhere whether it’s at work, home, church, community, etc. Everyone has that potential and we must tap into it. Our goal should be to develop our employees into excellent leaders, wherever that may be applied. In turn, this will make them into better employees.
  • Focus on their strength and manage around their weakness.  Find what motivates them.

Q5: How Do We Implement This?

  • The main issue is time.  Most executives do not have the time to sit around thinking about leadership development, but someone needs to be. Someone needs to be thinking about how to implement the following:
    1. A leadership training program
    2. Coaching/mentorship
    3. Opportunities for them to practice what they’ve learned in the training programs

Takeaways:

  1. Never underestimate the abilities of your employees. Everyone can be a leader with proper nurturing.
  2. Be thoughtful & intentional.
  3. Know where the ceiling is for each employee and recognize their coachability.
  4. When our team fails, it ultimately falls on us as the leader.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Friday)

Q1: Why is Leadership Development Necessary?

  • To improve efficiency, we must be intentional about developing those key performance indicators or traits that we expect from our employees. Additionally, we must develop them in a way that aligns them with our company values and mission.

Q2: What is the Difference Between Leader & Leadership?

  • A leader gathers followers
  • Leadership develops those followers into more leaders

Q3: What Does Leadership Development Mean?

  • Cannot simply state your vision, mission, & values. The younger generation wants to know how those actually apply to your business practices. What is the practical application of those values?
  • We must coach for application
  • Example: Lou Holtz
    • People want to know the same things: Can I trust you? Do you care about me? Are you committed to excellence?

Q4: How Do You Develop Them?

  • Mentorship
  • Provide opportunities to practice
  • Allow people to fail
  • Role play
    • Teach them how to apply the values
    • Share your mistakes
  • Get away from the superman mentality. Share your failures for others to learn from.

Birmingham Round Table

Q1: What is Contained Within or Meant by Leadership Development?

  • Training new leaders
  • Communicating good performance
  • Identifying leadership qualities
  • Reaching out to people
  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Remembering that people are different
  • Being able to see beyond the metrics

Q2: Why is Leadership Development Necessary? Aren’t Leaders Just Born?

  • Schooling doesn’t necessarily teach management or leadership skills. Use continuous positive reinforcement to encourage the behaviors/traits that you desire.
  • Need to understand people and the influences from their outside life.

Q3: How Should an Organization Develop Their Leaders? Who is Responsible? Who Does the Development? When Should It Be Done?

  • An organization may have a checklist of “laws” or policies, but it is the job of those in leadership to explain those laws, and educate and inspire the employees. Leaders must provide the purpose or “the why” behind policies and decisions.

Takeaways:

  • Live it, experience it, apply it. It is not about rules, laws, and lists.
  • Empower people to become more than their job so they can live a balanced life.
  • Learn, master, change.

Join us at an upcoming Round Table meeting where we will discuss the “Vacation: Managing Time Off In An On Demand World.” RSVP to info@thebusinessrt.org.

 

Employee Engagement: A Key to Employee Retention

In the May Round Table meetings, we discussed the topic of “Employee Engagement: A Key to Employee Retention.” For your convenience, notes from each chapter meeting have been recorded for you to review.

As a quick reminder, our next Leadership Event will feature David Beatty, Vice President of Finance & Administration at Weldaloy, on June 21st at the Birmingham Country Club. David will be speaking on the topic of “Confronting & Overcoming Fear.”  Click here to register and to save your seat!

If you are unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can review all past event presentations. Be sure to turn on your notifications so that you are the first to know when David’s presentation is available.

Below are the notes from the May Round Table meetings.

Plymouth Round Table

Q1: What are some ways to get employee engagement?

  • Does not boil down to money
  • Purpose & volunteerism engages
  • Facing the problem now of even finding any candidates

Q2: Does employee engagement influence retention? How?

  • Yes, but most people really need more training, not necessarily gimmicks.

Q3: What steps can employers take to cause employees to be fully engaged?

  • Better training
  • Environment / Workspace
  • Communication

Birmingham Round Table

Q1: What are some ways to get employee engagement?

  • Engagement – is different for each grade level (i.e. Millennials differ from older employees who look to employer for entire benefit needs).
  • Complete ownership of their job.

Q2: Does employee engagement influence retention? How?

  • Job satisfaction – freedom, challenge
  • Job significance – leadership training, culture, certification, guild model
  • Job security – wages, benefits
  • Engaged employees also attract customers.
  • Help employees find their way.

Q3: What steps can employers take to cause employees to be fully engaged?

  • Breakdown in agreed-upon leadership causes people to leave.
  • Need careful and complete rollout in explanation of benefits program.
  • People leave their leader not their job.
  • Establish clear mission & give people purpose.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Tuesday)

What is Engagement?

  • Trust
  • Commitment
  • Finding programs that interest your employees
  • Having people who are not asleep at the wheel
  • Open and quality communication
  • We must listen to our employees and their ideas
  • People want to feel part of the team/ that they belong
  • Align your mission with their goals.

Examples/Ways to Improve Engagement:

  • Know their name
  • Ask questions
  • Book: Dream Manager
  • Engagement doesn’t have to come through some big initiative
  • Management is caring for people
  • “Adapt, migrate, or die”
  • Good leadership has a trickle-down effect
  • On boarding: engage in the operation in spite of management.
  • Engagement comes through the investment of:
    • Time
    • Teaching
    • Management
  • Calculate time lost
    • Disengaged employees
    • Conflict
  • Food/Potlucks
  • CRC – Connect, Recommend, Commend

Takeaways:

  • Trust
  • Investment of time
  • Everyone must share the ownership
  • Our words & deeds must match
  • Our employees must feel that they belong
  • Balance
  • Make your people smoke-jumpers
  • Equip others to lead/engage

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)

How Do We Define Employee Engagement?

  • The level of an employee’s emotional engagement toward their job.
    • Do they have a best work friend?
  • Trust given and received.
  • Tough for employers to engage emotion.
    • Some employees don’t pursue career advancement because they love their team, coworker, etc. and don’t want to leave their area.
  • Importance of conflict resolution.
  • Employer-Employee relationship has changed from giving orders to a coaching leadership style.
  • Deep root of industrial revolution mentality: “You’re here to have a job and that should be sufficient.”
  • No education on how to pursue & communication your passion or purpose.
  • HR is stuck in admin/clerical work.
  • Executives must have development as well, not only mid level managers.
  • Assumption that high level leaders got where they are because they must know best – but that is not always the case.
  • An employees good work may lead to a promotion, but are they a good leader?
  • Must be able to distinguish talent & skillset.
  • Strengths finder & explorer.

What Role Does Vision & Mission Play?

  • Articulate a simple and clear mission. This will:
    • Connect the employee to their job
    • Serve as a constant reminder of why they are there and why their job matters.
  • Be sure that you communicate stories of people fulfilling the mission.
  • Be sure that your benefits match your stated values. Do not say that you value family while you offer terrible family benefits.
  • Use your Core Values as a filter for business decisions.
  • Employees expect your investment.
  • Express love in your actions.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Friday)

What is Engagement?

  • Participation.
  • Related to Education / Skill.
  • Compare engagement to commitment/pledge.
  • Want people to see their value.
  • A highly engagement employee melds with the company – you no longer see the individual but the whole.

How Do We Implement This:

  • Make sure that your employees know how to do their job.
  • Pledge to make sure they are successful.
  • Utilize transparency / honesty.
  • Remember to fill in the blanks/ gaps in knowledge before they do.
  • Express the value of every member in your company.
  • Allow innovation.
  • Give constructive feedback on ideas.
  • Demonstrate respect.
  • Be available.
  • Thank them for being leaders and show them how they are leading.
  • Provide resources.
  • Humility goes a long way. Admit when you don’t know something.

Current Challenges:

  • Lack of spiritual influence on the younger generation which leads to employees having no bedrock values – constantly shifting their morals.
  • Bridging the generational gaps.

Solutions:

  • Start where people currently are.
  • Do not assume that employees know what to do and how to do it, or that they understand your direction, vision, mission, etc.
  • Be very clear with your expectations for them.
  • Approach each employee as an individual rather than a generational label.

Join us at an upcoming Round Table meeting. RSVP to info@thebusinessrt.org.