February, 2008
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

For Home Inspectors Who Are Also Managers: Five Leadership Tactics That Will Make 2008 a Pivotal Business Year


by Quint Studer

As you look back over 2007, you're feeling a vague sense of discontent. Business is sluggish. Several key employees have left. And with new competitors springing up every day, you need to be at the top of your industry. Oh, things are not terrible — not yet — but they could be a lot better. You need to turn things around, and you know you need to make some big changes in the upcoming year. Problem is, you’re not sure what they are. Quint Studer has a suggestion: Make 2008 the year you focus on leadership. Not leaders, mind you — leadership.

“Solid business results that stand the test of time do so for one reason and one reason only: consistently excellent leadership,” insists Studer, author of Wall Street Journal bestseller “Results That Last: Hardwiring Behaviors That Will Take Your Company to the Top.” According to Studer, “Products and services change with the demands of the market. Individual leaders come and go. The key is to create an organizational culture that ensures great leadership today and tomorrow.

“In other words, you need a long-term fix, not a magic bullet or a trendy program du jour or a charismatic leader. You need a culture built on good, solid, time-tested leadership principles.” Studer urges organizations to institute proven across-the-board behaviors that don’t depend on particular individuals.

These practices are not complicated. They’re simple, common-sense tactics that leaders can get their hands around and start doing right away. And you don’t have to adopt every directive in his book to enjoy significant results. In fact, says Studer, implement these five “biggies” and you’ll see dramatic changes by the end of 2008:

• Get rid of low performers. Now. Let’s say your employee Carol consistently comes in late, gets headaches every other (non-payday) Friday, and spends more time cheerily chatting up coworkers than she does working. Others will notice — and they will be resentful. But worse than merely causing contention in the ranks, turning a blind eye to the “Carols” in your organization squelches profitability. Why? Because middle performers get pulled down to the low-performer level, while high performers either a) disengage or b) leave.

The low performer is an anchor holding everyone else back. Make this year the year you quit looking the other way.

• Accentuate the positive. The next time you’re having lunch in a restaurant, listen in on the conversations at nearby tables. Chances are, you’ll hear people griping about their workloads, difficult clients, annoying co-workers or the ridiculousness of corporate policy. Everyone does it, but if they realized how harmful it is to their company, perhaps they’d think twice. The solution, says Studer, is to hone the fine art of managing up.

“Managing up means positioning your people, products or company in a positive light,” says Studer. “Managing up doesn’t just happen; you have to make it happen in a systematic way. Help employees understand what can happen when negativity is allowed to breed — good people quit and customers leave — and they’ll be more likely to stop doing it.”

• Make a real connection with employees — every day. Studer is a big proponent of what he calls “rounding for outcomes.” Like many of his tactics, this critical leader behavior reveals his health care industry roots. (Think of a doctor making her daily rounds to check on patients.) But remember, says Studer, it’s not just empty “face time” — it’s rounding for outcomes, which means the process has a serious purpose.

“Basically, you take an hour a day to touch base with employees, make a personal connection, recognize success, find out what’s going well and determine what improvements can be made.

• Say thanks. In fact, put it in writing. Studer is a big advocate of sending thank-you notes to employees who do an excellent job. But that
doesn’t mean just sending the occasional note when someone goes far above the call of duty. It means literally mandating a specific number of thank-you notes for leaders to send to the people they supervise. He explains that the best thank-you notes are:

– specific, not general;
– handwritten, if possible;
– sent to the employee’s home.

• Don’t just recruit great employees. Re-recruit them. If you plan to hire in 2008, here’s a relatively easy step you can take that will pay off in a big way. We all know employee turnover is expensive. But did you know that more than 25 percent of employees who leave positions do so in the first 90 days of employment? To retain a new team member, the leader needs to build a relationship. Studer Group has found that scheduling two one-on-one meetings, the first at 30 days and the second at 90 days, has an enormous impact on retention that directly turns into savings for your organization.

Once you start implementing these tactics, results quickly follow. Your employees will see that you care about them, which boosts morale, which improves performance, which leads to happier customers, which leads to higher profits. Incidentally, the book also offers a “customer tactics” section, but Studer says creating satisfied employees is the first order of business. 

“When things aren’t going so well, a lot of leaders panic and start doing things that make employees less satisfied,” he notes. “Don’t make that mistake. Your leaders’ job is to create happy, loyal, productive employees. They, in turn, will create happy, loyal, profitable customers. They are two sides of the same coin — and that coin is the currency that buys you results that last.”

Quint Studer not only teaches it, he has done it. After leading organizations to breakthrough results, he formed Studer Group®, an outcomes firm that implements evidence-based leadership systems that help clients attain and sustain outstanding results. Studer authored “Results That Last: Hardwiring Behaviors That Will Take Your Company to the Top.” It is available at bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers or directly from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. Copies also can be purchased online through the Studer Group Web site at studergroup.com.

 IBHS Video Documents Homeowners Wildfire Survival Plan

The Institute for Business & Home Safety’s wildfire research project is under way and the findings should help provide hard data to rate the performance of structures in the recent Southern California wildfires.

The data could help support ongoing campaigns to get home and business owners to act to protect their properties before wildfire strikes. IBHS has produced a video documenting the wildfire prevention steps taken by Farmers Insurance customer George Welch of Ramona, Calif., which ultimately helped save his house.

The video will be posted at the new IBHS Web site, www.DisasterSafety.org, in the I Did It Gallery, where people share stories of how they have protected their own homes and businesses against natural disasters.