To Err is Human — to Really Muck Things Up Takes a CEO, Part Two
Continuing my list from last week, here’s the second part (tips 8-13) of my rules for CEOs to follow to most effectively manage their direct marketing businesses.
8. Don’t be a negative example. Want your employees to underperform? Come to work sporadically, keep unspecified hours, pull up in a ultra high-end foreign luxury car while your employees drive cars with rust holes, and watch what happens. When your employees lack motivation, blame them, not you. But as a wise old boss I had early in my career told me, “The fish stinks from the head!” Get in before your employees, leave later and drive a regular car to the office (leave the bling home).
9. Don’t go crazy on infrastructure. If business is good and you have some extra cash, build an office your friends, family, competition, vendors, bankers and all will envy. I once worked for a B-to-B cataloger/manufacturer that had a huge windfall client sign up with its wholesale division. The company, which was profitable, saw a revenue increase of about 50 percent. It went about buying a building, adding staff, putting in a new database ERP system that only its CIO understood and generally refurnished its entire office. When the client pulled the plug on the product it had custom-built for the cataloger, guess what happened? Eventually the company cracked under its own weight and went under. The moral of the story: Build your infrastructure organically, one piece at a time.
10. Don’t play favorites. Any time you have a boss and two or more employees, office politics exist. So what if your favorite employee hangs on your every word, coos approval when you speak and is your friend inside and outside the office. My choice is the employee who wants to argue, dissent, even kick my butt (and isn’t afraid to say it) any day of the week over my pet employee. These are the people who have the guts to tell you that you’re fiddling while Rome is burning.