Robert the Resource

Robert Scheer 750

Solving the Transportation Equation

The open houses for the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) have begun in Montgomery County last week.  Which means that slowly but surely BRT will be coming to our county—and it could not come faster in my opinion.  BRT will help connect businesses, provide transportation options, and expand where organizations can recruit to further their growth.

How does Montgomery County remain competitive with markets like Boston? Sure, we are able to compete when it comes to an educated workforce, access to universities and colleges, and actual space for businesses to operate. We have the distinct advantage of direct access to the federal government and agencies.  If you line up the pros and cons of both markets—the winning piece would be who can solve the transportation equation the smartest and the fastest.

In the recent weeks, the mayor of Boston released his transportation plan titled Go Boston 2030 which is intended to improve transportation within the city and address a multitude of existing transportation challenges.  Read the article here.

So here is the deal—it is time Montgomery County moves quickly and efficiently in solving our transportation challenges.   Ease of navigating the county roads, the ability for employees to access their workplace economically and efficiently is one of the biggest recruiting challenges for major corporations.  If we do not begin to move forward with the BRT and other transportation options, we will continue to lose out to other major markets—especially frustrating to me and many others because this region is ripe for explosive growth.

Rewarding your team and cultivating excellence

Compensation is important for employees, but after an initial hire the source of motivation tends to shift. While financially rewarding high-performing employees is important, there are other ways to retain your best team members. Your company’s culture is critically important. As a leader, it’s up to you to how you define it. Here at Scheer Partners, we cultivate an enthusiastic, can-do attitude and believe anything is possible.

 

After 25 years in business, and having attracted and retained some amazing, top-level talent, we’re offering our top five ways to cultivate a ‘performance culture’:

 

Customized Rewards

Sure, you can offer ancillary benefits like extra life insurance, additional health benefits like vision or dental, or even gym memberships. Or, you could go the extra mile and tailor incentives for each employee. For example, did someone recently get married? An extra week vacation could provide the time needed for a honeymoon.

 

Upward Mobility

No one likes to feel stuck. Research shows that employees who don’t feel like your company offers attractive career opportunities tend to leave. Make sure you have regular career planning discussions, then ensure your employees know about opportunities within your company.

 

Recognition

There’s an old saying that someone who feels appreciated will always do more than expected. Achievement and recognition are high motivators, so take the time to publicly recognize and reward employees. Simple things like a prime parking space, a new title or even an extra day off can go a long way.

 

Positivity

Set a good example for your team – and, set the tone. Never underestimate the power of walking into the office with a smile, and remembering to say ‘thank you.’ Employees rarely leave solely over money – often, it’s because they don’t like their boss. Having a positive work culture helps a lot, and encourages teamwork and communication.

 

Communication

Benefits like clear and frequent communication with your team make all the difference in employee happiness. Keep your team informed on company happenings and big-picture direction. And don’t forget two-way communication – offer opportunities for feedback, idea sharing and collaborative conversation.

 

At Scheer Partners, it’s important for us to create an environment that cultivates performance among our team and we try to incorporate all these ideas into our culture. That philosophy guided our recent office move which incorporated many features to improve the work environment for our team. If you’re looking for new space, please contact us.

Mastering the how and when of taking the bully pulpit

I did not vote for Donald Trump.” – My Nov. 9 blog post

 

After writing a brief post on our presidential election, I had several people ask why I took a public stance on a controversial issue. Historically, CEOs don’t often weigh in on national issues, but that has changed.

 

Recently, CEOs have publicly engaged in social activism and are taking positions to a greater extent than ever before. Yes, taking a stance poses risks, but it also offers advantages. Speaking to the values of the company you lead – authentically, relevantly and thoughtfully, can actually reinforce brand loyalty, particularly among millennials.

 

Today’s CEO has expanded from the guardian of a business, to someone who defines a brand, culture and values. And while you should carefully consider climbing the bully pulpit, the desire to speak your conscience is appropriate. In fact, many of today’s consumers expect CEOs to engage in thought leadership.

 

Quite often, when CEOs take a public stance on issues that align with a company’s values, brand loyalty is strengthened. Take Apple and Tim Cook, for example. While speaking out against Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act last year cost the company a $40 million project, a recent Harvard Business Review study showed “higher intent to purchase Apple products among respondents who were exposed to Cook’s CEO activism than among those who were not.”

 

Still, there are some important considerations prior to engaging in social activism.

 

First, make sure you’re truly passionate about the position and that it makes sense within the context of your business. Also ensure you’re OK with having that position in the long-term.

 

Second, be authentic. A public stance should truly reflect your values. If there’s a whiff of self-service, self-promotion or inauthenticity, it could hurt your company. Remember last year’s Race Together Starbucks cup fiasco? The public pegged the move as promotional – maybe even a little exploitive – and the company soon ended the program.

 

Third, pick and choose wisely. Consider if taking a position truly makes a difference, and then take a careful, measured and selective approach.

 

Fourth and final, don’t surprise your stakeholders. Try to get them behind you, which isn’t always easy. Try and connect your position to an organizational benefit, and prove that a public position provides the company greater operating leverage. Even if you cannot get your key leaders to support your position, and take it anyway, don’t let your statement take them by surprise.

 

As for my election post – while I publicly expressed my position, I parlayed it into enthusiasm for possibilities. It was genuine, heartfelt and tied into the values of Scheer Partners – anything is possible and an unwavering ‘can do’ attitude.

 

How’s That View?

“It’s lonely at the top, but the view’s not bad.”

Often dismissed and rarely discussed, many CEOs are plagued with feelings of isolation. In fact, a survey from Harvard Business Review found that half of CEOs report feeling lonely. And while lavish salaries and corporate CEO behavior don’t often instill empathy, any leader’s isolation negatively affects decision-making, culture and performance.

Remember Enron? After bankrupting the company and resigning, CEO Jeffrey Skilling claimed ignorance when testifying before Congress. Many Americans wondered how the man at the top could know nothing of what happened beneath him

Many CEOs are ensconced in a tight-knit bubble, surrounded by sycophants and gatekeepers. Often, this entourage shields a leader from organizational problems, and offers limited and filtered information on operations, customers and employees.

Granted, time constraints necessitate a bit of gate-keeping and a good bit of delegation. But having a stable of handlers deciding what a leader knows exacerbates isolation. And usually these yes-sayers don’t push back on bad decisions.

This isolation and narrow field of vision can compromise decision-making, render leadership less effective and in short, hurt business. While an inevitable part of the job, whether it compromises your abilities is up to you.

So, what can you do to reduce executive isolation? First, you must recognize it. In the flurry of activity that accompanies the role at the top, isolation is easy to ignore. Take a minute and ask yourself if you’re feeling disconnected, if your subordinates whole-heartedly agree with you, and if you’re getting first-hand data on your organization.

Second, get out of your literal bubble. Escape the board rooms, the formal décor, the handlers. Interact with your customers, talk with lower-level teams (without their bosses present), seek anonymous feedback.

Tell your senior team to challenge you – then really listen. Encourage a culture of candor and cultivate the strength of ego to handle criticism. It’s not always easy, but it is well worth it. The best leaders have confidants who shoot straight, and keep the boss in the know.

I am always available to share how we achieve results here at Scheer Partners. I am just an email away at rscheer@scheerpartners.com.

 

 

 

 

There is Never a Perfect Time

There comes a time in every organization’s life when you’ve outgrown your space. It could be new contracts, new revenue, new opportunities.  Whatever the reason, you need to hire people. And, people need space to work from.

But when is the right time to move? Having moved our company several times over the 25 years, I speak from experience.

Like getting married or having kids, there is no perfect time. There are, however, telltale signs that reveal an office move is in the best interests of the long-term sustainability of your company.  Through planning and seizing the opportunity when it presents itself, a new office location can propel your company forward.

A few indications it is time to move:

Corporate Culture Needs a Makeover

Culture consists of shared values, a common language, stated expectations and tangible artifacts.

As team members have come and gone, perhaps new values have emerged. Certainly your business goals have matured and you’ve become clear about your market, your product and the real-world problems you solve. Maybe your culture has picked up a few new behaviors—increased collaboration, a need for more private meeting space, more presentation areas, a need for more visual support.

A fresh start shouldn’t be wasted. Be purposeful about beginning anew by articulating expectations.

There is no greater reset than an office move. With such change, new habits can be formed and with a little guidance from management, the team will be working harmoniously once again.

Your lease is about to expire

Do you know when your lease expires? Check now, as it may be sooner than you think.

If your lease expires in the next 24 months, that’s great. Finding the right spot, space planning, construction, and moving is a huge undertaking that will require no less than a year.

You Are Busting at the Seams

When you’ve doubled up private offices so each 10-by-10 space is home to two employees, when there are no more meetings rooms left for meetings, and when all the desk space is occupied, it’s time.

For some, this level of proximity is stimulating and can improve communication among team members. There will, however, be a tipping point, a point where people are crammed in too tightly and personal space is non-existent.

You’re Spread Across Multiple Floors, or Multiple Buildings

Years ago, you found what the ideal situation. Perhaps a few thousand square feet to start and, over time, your company began to grow.

Something to consider, a recent article appearing in the Harvard Business Review validated a few common thoughts about how employees interact:

So, what does that say about having your business on multiple floors or worse, multiple buildings?  Think of the costs (and time) it involves for your employees to travel between locations to meet with the right team member.  Think of how disconnected your leadership team can be from your employees by not being able to chat a quick chat by the water cooler or have a quick walk down the hallway for a conversation.   Now, imagine the productivity, cost savings and efficiencies your organization will experience when located on a single floorplate.

When that day does arrive when you throw your hands up and say it is time to move,  I hope the first phone call or email will be to me.  Our team can help guide you in finding the perfect space, build that space to suit your needs. Contact me at rscheer@scheerpartners.com.

 

Unconventional Thinking–Why Business Needs It

Unconventional thinking means looking at the world through an inquisitive, investigative lens, like you did as a child. And this perspective should not be limited just to your work, but permeate your general outlook on life. After all, some of the greatest inspirations and most profound unconventional ideas will come to you in moments and situations completely removed from your business. The whole world is your reservoir for unconventional ideas.

This may seem obvious, but the problem with conventional thinking is that it does not lead to truly new ideas, creativity or innovation. Yet most of us individually and collectively — in our families, businesses and communities — think and behave conventionally.

Most of the time, conventional thinking is fine. Most of your work, your operations and your social interaction can and should be conventional. Conventional usually works and rarely offends.

Conventional thinking about the competition is dangerous. You probably think your competitors — the companies you have to watch out for — are a handful of businesses similar to yours. Yet, those businesses are not really competition. You know where they stand. They know where you stand. You all do pretty much the same conventional things to deliver the same growth and pretty much operate the same way. Those companies are not your most dangerous competition. Rather, it is three millennials in their garage who are dreaming up a product that does 50% of what your product does, but 98% of what your customers want. It will be available for a fraction of the cost of your product. It might even be free. It will be so unconventional that when you first learn about it, you will laugh it off.

Just like Kodak laughed off digital photography. Just like the blacksmiths of Detroit laughed off the Ford Model T.

I wish you a year of unconventional thinking.

Take a look at how I think the county is facing their conventional challenges and where unconventional thinking has an opportunity to exist!  View the Montgomery County overview here.

What is Your 100-Day Plan?

MA-Integration-100-Day-Plan-850x450
In the next couple of weeks, we are going to be bombarded with 100-day plans, 100-day plans for the  Country, 100-day plans for the new administration, 100-day plans to meet your new year’s resolutions, and the list could go on and on.

But how can a 100-day plan work for your business?

Whatever the size of your firm, whether you’re B2B or B2C, and regardless of the industry in which you operate, a 100-day plan can guide you towards increasing profits and market share over the next 365 days.

Thank you to President Franklin Roosevelt who pioneered the concept of a 100-day plan.  Now a tradition with our Presidents, the plan is used as a means of gauging effectiveness in the White House.  The plan typically consists of short term goals that adhere to the long-term version.  Same can be applied to your business.

What do you need to accomplish in 2017?  And what steps do you need to take in the first 100 days of the new year to achieve your goals?   Establishing 100 tasks which need to be done, identifying specific steps and resources needed for those tasks will guide you towards pursuing attainable objectives and start the year off with a burst of energy.  And if you are like me, I am sure you can come up with 100 tasks for your business.

When the 100-day finish line is reached mid-April, you will know if you should be celebrating or if it is time to re calibrate your efforts.

So, what is your 100-day plan?

Breaking Tradition: Our New Home

This week, we moved our offices.  We survived the packed boxes, moving of computer servers, and most important, moving of our most important asset—our people.  What we really learned was a traditional office for one business is not necessarily the perfect design for another.  Breaking tradition and designing for your needs is the key to success.

Redefining the Traditional Office

The office is no longer that boring place you spent so many days in—it can be driving in your car, sitting on a park bench, in a coffee shop or in your home.  As technology advances and the ability to communicate with clients and co-workers becomes easier and easier it begs the question: is the traditional office dead?  Maybe we should redefine what the traditional office was and what it could be.

At Scheer Partners, it is important for us to create an environment where our team loves where they work and are in an environment where performance is cultivated.   When we made the decision to move, months ago, we knew we wanted space that reflected innovation, forward-thinking, collaboration, and team building.   Although the concept of having an office may be traditional, the spaces in which we work do not need to be traditional.

Variety in Office Space

Put simply, traditional offices are not a thing of the past. There is, however, more variety to the office space. I define traditional office space as having a fixed location and/or having fixed desks. You have to ask yourself, “What are the benefits of operating in a traditional office?” You mainly want to have people be in close proximity to each other so that information sharing is encouraged easily and often, which helps the employees and company to grow.

There Will Always Be a Need for the Traditional

There will always be a demand for traditional office space.

The challenge is finding the right space in the right location with the right design for your business to grow and thrive.

And if you want to swing by and see our office and how we think we broke our traditional office mold, let us know.

 

Anything is Possible

I did not vote for Donald Trump.

I watched the election return at a friend’s house. As the evening progressed, we were surprised at the ongoing results. When, I left around 10 pm, I still felt the odds were substantially in Hillary’s favor. After watching for another hour at home, I found myself getting depressed, sad, and worried about our country.   As Trump’s chances continued to improve, I went to bed without waiting for the final results—I just did not want to face it!

At 5 am, I looked at my phone and realized Trump was the President-Elect.  Initially, I was sad, depressed, and anxious.  I felt caught up in the sea of change, and the world I knew yesterday was not today’s reality.

Amazingly, over the course of next few hours as I readied for work, my depression evolved into excitement, enthusiasm, and optimism. I left for work more energized than I have been in years.  I think it is due to my new conviction of anything is possible.  If Trump can be President, then I and Scheer Partners can do anything we set our sights on.  Although the unknown future can be scary, there is something exciting and liberating about it.

I wonder if others are feeling a renewed “can do” attitude given Trump’s stunning victory.