Tag Archives: better managers blog

We’re going to be doing a little redecorating around here, but it’s all good!



On April 23rd, when you come to the blog, you will be redirected to our new parent company blog on www.redbookconnect.com.  Don’t worry though! First of all, you won’t need to do anything differently – you’ll just automatically go to the new location. Second, we know you have come to enjoy and depend on the content we publish here and our goal is to continue to provide interesting, thought-provoking and helpful blog posts from industry-leading experts as well as our staff. The only thing that’s changing, really, is the URL.


For our dedicated audience who request the Better Managers Blog be sent to them via email, we will continue to do so. No change is necessary on your part. Also, we’d love to stay engaged with you on our social media platforms as well.  Follow and like us by clicking on the icons below.


Thank you for your loyalty to our brand, products and blog.  We’re excited to bring you more great content, news and helpful advice from our new location!

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Making the Leap

cloudThe IT world is abuzz over the cloud. Many people talk about it. Few people really understand it. We suspect, like most people, you’re too busy grappling with your business to grapple with the cloud. If we’re right, then this post is for you!

What Is the Cloud?

“The cloud” is a metaphor. Like most metaphors, it’s difficult to pin it down to a single, specific meaning. Essentially, “the cloud” could refer to any IT capability delivered as a service over the Internet. The significance of this is in the comparison.

Traditionally, every company invests in the hardware, software, and technical expertise necessary to use technology to enhance their business processes. The cloud provides an alternative that gets you more technological bang for your buck. More specifically, the cloud involves buying the portion of a cloud provider’s data storage and processing capabilities you need to achieve your business tasks.

Why Use the Cloud?

By selling a portion of its data storage and processing capabilities to multiple customers, the cloud provider can achieve economies of scope and scale their clients cannot achieve by themselves. In turn, their clients receive scalable, adaptable IT services, without investing in the IT infrastructure necessary to create those services.

These same benefits also empower cloud providers to develop services that meet the needs of their clients—comparable to software—that meet the needs of their clients. They can afford to invest in the technical expertise, because the cost is shared among many clients. In short, by hiring a cloud service provider, you get the benefits of an IT department at a fraction of the cost.

Servicing Your Solutions

Red Book Connect is a cloud service provider tailored to the specific needs of the restaurant industry. We’ve combined our best practices and expertise in the restaurant industry with our IT expertise to address real problems with real solutions.

Our solutions focus on the most critical managerial challenges in the restaurant industry – hiring, training, scheduling, shift communication and back office management:

HotSchedules empowers you with staff scheduling, forecasting, and instant messaging.
Macromatix provides you with business intelligence, inventory management, and reporting capabilities.
GoHire delivers automated paperless recruiting, applicant tracking, and on-boarding.
Schoox provides easy access to continuous training through a social learning platform that allows for knowledge sharing in your own branded academy.
Digital Red Book gives you one centralized place for real-time shift communication, multi-unit consistency, and task workflow management.

Our goal is to provide you with no-nonsense solutions to real problems by providing you with cost-effective technological capabilities that enable you to control costs and improve profitability without losing quality.

By Stephanie C.

The Better Managers Blog Surpassed 35,000 Views!

35K-viewsOur readers are the reason we work so hard to research and share blogs each week on the topics that matter to you. Thank you for your support and please continue reading! And as always we welcome all suggestions on topics and challenges that you face as managers. ~Your Better Managers Team

Negotiation Skills that Make Good Managers Better

Negotiating and the “Art of the Deal” are not new. We do this every day in multiple ways, from arranging services for our homes to renegotiating a business lease.

Recently, this subject has increased in popular attention. One example is the new television
show “Market Warriors” where four experts are given money to purchase items at antique markets, presumably for a steal, and then try to resell them for a profit. Another is that there are an increasing number of experts lending their voices to this hot topic.

Last week I attended the International Franchise Association’s Executive Leadership Conference and had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Victoria Medvec, a Professor at the Kellogg School and a prominent lecturer. She has developed a 10 step process that covers familiar ground but with added new tactics I found especially interesting.

Negotiation is a two-phase process beginning with Preparation and proceeding to Execution. Dr .Medvec repeatedly emphasized the importance of work done in advance of the actual face-to-face exchange.  It’s vital to have clear ideas about both your position and that of the person you are negotiating with. You may be familiar with the process of making detailed lists of the desires you have and concessions you are willing to make, and then weighting them by what’s most and least important to both parties.  Do your homework.

In all cases, there are several issues that should be considered for both parties.  It’s helpful to develop scenarios and then rank them. This involves understanding the extremes – most wanted and least acceptable. Find the BATNA for each side. BATNA refers to the “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” The other end of the continuum, Reservation Point, is at what point in the discussion you are willing to “walk away”– meaning it’s not worthwhile to continue as there are no longer any benefits to you. At the end of this phase you should have at least four benchmarks, BATNAs and Reservation Points for both parties.

Now it is on to execution. There are several strategies to help you attain a favorable deal.

The first tip is to include several items in a package to improve the possibility for trade-offs and a more complete, acceptable deal.  Having more options in the mix enhances the chance for a deal because you have more potential for contingencies and space to negotiate.

A second tip is called the Anchoring Move.  There are mixed opinions about this strategy but I tend to agree with Dr. Medvec.  This involves which side goes first to make their initial offer or proposal.  Some argue that this is a weak play because it divulges your position too early and you might be forced to make further concessions. To the contrary, you should present a position built upon a thoroughly explained and detailed rationale.  This method creates a centering “anchor” for the entire discussion, rather than a starting point and a downward spiral. Indeed, “he or she who makes the first offer wins.”

A third tactic is called Concession Room.  It builds on the previous two points. When you develop a package proposal, it is advantageous to include items that vary in importance. Some will be essential to the discussion, while others could be “throw-ins.” As a result, your “package” presents you with more opportunities to be flexible and enhance your outcome. For example, in negotiations it is common to request more than you really expect to get—your BATNA. Some situations lend themselves to making outrageous demands with your Concession Room, or BATNA, as your fall back. Concessions are regarded favorably and encourage others to feel as though they are winning.

So what’s really the “art of the deal?” The answer, quite simply, is that it is a process that has two important phases. To avoid haggling or a stalemate, do your homework and follow the tips on execution. You’ll find yourself more often than not in the winner’s circle to the key issues that matter to you.

By, Debra Koenig, President of B2A Consulting | 30 years of experience as a  business executive with leadership and consulting skills in Fortune 500 and private equity portfolio companies.

The Whipping Stick of the Workplace: Corrective Actions in Motion

In life and in work we are constantly being managed, or some may say ‘corrected’. Whether we missed an email or spoke out of turn in a meeting, managers need to implement corrective actions at times. I for one would prefer to ignore it and let someone else deal with a rowdy or unruly employee, (not really).  However, in today’s “politically correct” business arenas, having some real guidelines in place for corrective action policies are an essential part of being a better manager. After all, you can’t whip out your ruler and swat someone with it now can you? Don’t think that one over too hard… the answer is no!

Corrective action is about identifying and eliminating the “causes” of a problem to prevent their recurrence. Sounds easy enough right? When you have specific metrics you and your team are following to maintain order and compliance on company goals, as a manager you must also implement corrective actions for when things go sideways.

Corrective actions may be implemented in response to customer complaints, inconsistency in the work output or instability in your daily processes due to confusion, overload or lackluster employee performance.  To ensure that corrective and preventive actions are effective, the systematic investigation of the “root causes” is pivotal. Once the problem is identified, an appropriate corrective action can be applied and the situation can then be appropriately remedied to prevent future instances.

EXAMPLE: If someone on my team didn’t bring their area’s update to our morning huddle, the corrective action would be a reminder around the expectation and the importance it provides to the rest of the team. However, each time they fail to deliver, they jeopardize our ability to perform and produce at the level required to meet our metrics. This bad behavior, without corrective action or intervention, has lasting repercussions. Now, whether workers choose to complete tasks to standard may be a point of contention, but that is just another chapter in being a manager.

Simon Sinek says, “If you hire people just to do a job they’ll just do it for the money. But if you hire people who believe in what you believe in, they’ll work through blood, sweat and tears.” What this says about how we work and how we communicate our needs and desires can be linked every time to why we work well with our employees or why we don’t. The trick is to continuously communicate that you’re on the same level and that you all believe the same tenets about why you’re doing things. This is where your key metrics and their respective corrective actions line up to truly inspire action. Expectations must be clear along with the accompanying outcomes as well as the consequences if the behavior is not remedied.

One cannot be overly aggressive with corrective action policies because, after all, these are the measures that need to be taken, whether it is an issue with improper planning, poor allocation of resources, or an unmotivated employee.
“Godfather-ism: You have to balance fierce ambition with due patience,” Shawn H. Wilson, President of Usher’s New Look Foundation, New York Times article on Leadership.

Take away—managers cannot let actions slide that support primary directives. Our role is to put things on the right track and keep them there. Key metrics are the guard rails that light up when you are not in line, so that you can… yes…take corrective action.

In the end, corrective actions are simply a way to ensure your key performance indicators are being met and enforced through a process of communicating with the employee to improve behaviors or performance. The goal is to guide the employee to correct performance or behavior by identifying the problems, causes and solutions; not to punish an employee or team for missing a key metric. Your key metrics are the essential indicators of the health of your organization. After all, they track your performance and define your successes and failures. When key metrics are not meeting the defined standards, corrective actions must be taken to solve the problems and promote greater future growth.

By Danielle Lafontaine, Marketing Communications Manager, Red Book Solutions | 5 Years – Digital & Traditional Marketing Copywriter with Ad Agency and Corporate Marketing Experience | Social Media Guru  & Community Builder with B2B and B2C Chops

Let the Good Times Roll

If your office is anything like mine, it’s filled with people from all generations, backgrounds and experience levels.

When I was laid off three years ago, it was a challenge for me to start in a new position at a lower level. Luckily my boss was older and wiser than I was in this new industry, so that made respecting him and taking a back seat much easier.

I imagine a lot of Managers and Directors are learning to manage teams that have more experience than they do, more education, are older, or come from a different industry. Maybe you’re working with my generation, the Y generation, which I have heard can be a challenge in itself. Sorry boss! A year and a half into being a training manager, I think my boss and I have figured out how to marry my experience and how I manage my time, with how he wants to manage me and my time.

Here’s what managers can do to avoid common employee pains:

Talk to each other. We are all busy, eyes down, getting our work done. This doesn’t work if you are trying to get to know your team. And let’s face it, you should always be getting to know your team. My boss and I meet at least twice a month, just he and I. This has helped shape our working relationship.

Keep talking to each other. I enjoy feedback, and my boss is very aware of it. If you’re lucky to have an employee who can speak up about what they need from you, take the hint. Being able to go to my boss and express what I need from him to get my job done has made me a stronger and wiser employee and manager in my own right. And did I mention more productive too?

Encourage questions. I love questions almost as much as I love making lists. I think every boss I have ever had probably thinks at some point, “Does she even know what she’s doing?” Processes sometimes get lost in translation or as a manager you’ve made instructions ambiguous. Questions are a tool. Welcome them. Let your staff use you as a resource as you use them as a resource.

Ask their opinion. Engage your people. As a manager, you have a team there standing ready to help. You need an innovative way to do something?  Gather your team and brainstorm. Don’t take it all on yourself. It’s human nature for people to want to help each other. Because you’ve developed relationships with everyone, (right?) you now have the ability to carry on valuable conversations that promote better performance.

Delegate. When I’ve managed teams I’ve have had these conversations with myself: “If I could just get this one thing done right then I can move on to the 10 reports I have to run and 15 responses to customers I have to make and it will be fine.” How many times did that one little thing, that I absolutely could have handed off, affect the rest of my day? Countless times. Most people want to improve, want to grow and want to be given the opportunity to learn something new or do more. Let them rise to the occasion. You may be surprised at their performance and get to free up your time to…well grow your team professionally. At first delegation takes away time, but in the future it will save you time. Delegate.

Have fun. A happy employee equals a happy work life. It’s important to do little things for your team. Essentially, people just want human contact, to know what they do matters, to be recognized somehow, a thank you card spelling out how they WOW’d you. You’ll increase an employee’s happiness because you took the time and made the effort to show you think about their work as much as they do.

As a manager, you already know all of this. My words aren’t new ideas and shouldn’t be a revelation. However, in this economic environment, we need little reminders that we don’t have to take on the world ourselves. We can create valuable teams and therefore, become valuable as an essential part of any organization.

Remember: A great team equals a great manager.

By guest blogger Christina Sorrillo, Training Manager in the restaurant industry, professional business organizer, event planner, blogger…and life lover! Christina has been the Training Manager at Quiznos, Customer Relations Manager at Land Rover AutoNation and Customer Relations Manager at Northridge Toyota. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado.

Key Performance Indicators Help You SWING FOR THE FENCES

Half of the year is gone. Wonder if you’re on the path to be better than last year? Remember when you spent countless hours building this year’s strategies and getting management and your entire team behind them. Weren’t they critical? Sometimes when our heads are down we don’t take the time to look up and see if we are anywhere we thought we should be by now. Budget, plan, schedule, execute and follow-up. Yes, I have preached this process through operations and sales for many years now. The follow-up is the critical piece.

For myself, I use activity reports and benchmarks; otherwise known in most companies as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), or other lofty terms such as performance metrics, business indicators, or performance ratios. These KPIs should let us know if we’re really on the right path to hit our revenue goals for the year. If you wait until the end of the year, fingers crossed, you’re not being an influential manager; but merely a placeholder in the position that will be replaced before long.

When I look at KPIs I think of them in terms of a batting average.  If my team is batting 1,000, then I really haven’t challenged them enough. Now, if they are batting less then .150, then I probably put too much on them or haven’t trained them properly. Most pro athletes work hard in every practice as if it were the real thing—a rivalry game. They work aggressively to hone in their skills so when they are in a game, each swing counts. There is little room for error if you want to be better than the rest.

Today, as a coach, I push my group to practice over and over again so when they do get a swing at the plate they make it count. If they are batting .300 I know I am on the right track. Now what I need to do is make sure each of them gets more opportunities at the plate. So if their average is low, the only way to make it better is to get more swings in.

Inside and outside sales are easy for me to talk through KPIs. The goal is always to have my team in front of and/or talking with the customer at least 50% of their day. This may sound simple, but when you track phone time by the second or an outside guy has 50 miles between customers, it’s very difficult.

Here is an easy hypothetical:

Let’s say my budget is to get 50 new programs signed by each sales person per year. Outside sales people on average would need to sign 4.13 per week. If they are batting .250 they need to schedule 25 calls per week to execute on the budget. An activity KPI would be for the appointments scheduled for next week. An inside sales person needs to be either emailing or on the phone for 4 hours. Tracked by second, the average talk time, depending on product, could be anywhere from 2 to 15 minutes.  Let’s take 5 minutes as a round number. Twelve calls an hour for 4 hours would be forty-eight calls a day.  My follow-up reports show whether the sales person is on track to hit their numbers and measures the activity they are doing to hit their budget.

All of this revolves around my key metrics. I can’t emphasize enough that for your business or department, no matter your role, you have got to figure out how you are going to measure where you stand so you can address the issue. KPIs force you to look deeper and make the changes required to get back on track before it’s too late.

To learn more, review the new feature article, “What gets Measured, Gets Managed” in the Better Managers Resource enewsletter.

By Richard Goering, Guest Blogger, 3C Network
Richard is a top performing sales and operational leader in the building industry backed by 18 years of experience. He currently is the Executive Vice President of 3C Network. His previous position was as the General Manager for BlueLinx Corporation (a leading national wholesale distributor) presiding over the entire northwest & mountain regions of the US including Hawaii and Alaska.  Richard’s career path has encompassed various positions held across the nation and abroad. He has a B.S. in Sports Management and a minor in Public Relations from Georgia Southern University.