Don’t “quit!” Find a new boss…

5 06 2015

They go by a variety of titles:  foreman, chief, supervisor, manager, director, chief operating officer, chief executive officer, president, chairman, founder, employer…  The title most often missing is “leader.”  Regardless what title the person you report to may wear, beneath the surface he or she must be a leader, “the head guy or gal, the one running the show,” “a person who rules or guides or inspires others,” as defined by vocabulary.com.[1]

Look no further than the pages of Fortune Magazine[2] to find a list of the world’s greatest leaders.  They come from business (Tim Cook, CEO, Apple), finance (Mario Draghi, President, European Central Bank), government (Xi Jinping, President, People’s Republic of China), religion (Pope Francis, Pontiff, Catholic Church), show business (Taylor Swift, Pop Star, Big Machine Records), and every other imaginable source. How do these high profile over-achievers compare with Bernie Smallowitz, supervisor on the 12-8 shift at Any Ironworks in Everytown, USA?  Does Bernie lead/guide/motivate you to be the very best pipefitter on the shift, in the company, in the industry?

According to The Wall Street Journal,[3] the standard mix of bosses/employees stood at 1:10 since the 1930’s.  Most recently, that ratio has grown as high as 1:56.  So, pick a number.  For the sake of argument, a ratio of 1 boss for each 25 employees should be reasonable.  With a current labor force of 157,469,000[4], according to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6,300,000 or more of them have a job title that calls for some level of leadership.  Obviously, they cannot all function at the levels of Cook, Draghi, etc.

The questions then are:

  • How do you measure your boss’s leadership?
  • What do you do if your boss’s leadership is unsatisfactory?

Use this simple guide to measure your boss’s leadership:

Characteristic Rank (1-5)
Is your boss honest with you/others?
Is your boss intelligent/knowledgeable?
Is your boss organized (Planning/follow-up)?
Does your boss offer recognition?
Is your boss dedicated to the company?
Does your boss communicate well?
Is your boss reasonable?
Does your boss trust/believe in you?

With 5 being excellent and 1 being unacceptable, rank the people to whom you report.  If the final score is 36-40, you are a lucky person; 30-35, better than most; 20-30, not good but fixable; 0-20, find another job.  If your response to the first question is less than 5, you may choose to go no further.

As you ponder this dilemma, some thoughts to consider:  Does upper management support your boss?  After all, they chose him/her for that position.  They may be unhappy with his/her performance.  Are you alone in your feelings?  Always look within first.  Perhaps you can change the situation by offering support and constructive criticism.  If you sense your boss’s dissatisfaction with you, then carefully weigh your effort, and attitude.  Do you like your job, your employer, your work environment, fellow employees?  Answers to those questions will help you decide whether to:

  • Sit down with your boss and iron out your differences.
  • Seek a position in a different department within the same company.
  • Find employment elsewhere.

The process of carefully evaluating your employment by establishing specific parameters for your situation and then fixing values for each one should begin on your first day of employment and continue on a quarterly/semi-annual/annual basis throughout your career.  The process will help you establish a baseline and measure changes. Career decisions will then be determined logically, not emotionally.

Fifty years in the labor market is a long-long time.  Advancement will keep you fresh and motivated. Stagnation and boredom will drain your energy and steal your health.  Rarely do companies give out gold watches for thirty or more years of loyal support. No one cares about your future more than you.  Two thoughts that come all too frequently as retirement age approaches:

  • “If only I had found a way to fix my issues and stayed with that company…”
  • “I never really liked my job…”

You were selected for employment because of your intelligence, your knowledge, and your experience, not your emotions.  Apply those resources to career management, and you will enjoy a fruitful, productive, rewarding career.

____________________________________________
[1] http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/leader
[2] http://fortune.com/worlds-greatest-leaders/
[3] http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB120630906217458011
[4] http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost

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The Sweet Sound of Success

8 04 2014

It was the fall of 1993 when an acquaintance approached me about the possibility of joining him in a start-up.  His plan was to create sales campaigns for businesses, complete with text and images.  He uploaded them onto CD’s that the companies could then send to sales prospects.  It was only a short time later that we became aware of the World Wide Web, that portion of the Internet where graphics could be used to enhance text, where images could be included, and where addresses were given names instead of a series of numerals separated by dots.

 Websites had to be built to 640 x 480 resolution in order to fit the tiny monitors of the time.  A balance between appearance and speed was necessary because 9600 baud phone modems were the standard.  Access to the World Wide Web could only be gained through providers like Prodigy and CompuServe and America OnLine.

 Twenty years later, a close friend and business customer called to announce that he had just landed the largest service contract in the history of his company.  The company had researched potential suppliers on the Internet, read the reviews, and studied their websites.  Upon completion of the research, the company called and offered a contract.

 “Walter, I never would have done this if it wasn’t for you,” he said.  “I’ve always believed that the success stories were all smoke and mirrors.  I trust you.  That’s the only reason why I moved forward with ‘the plan.’  Now, I see for myself what can happen.”

 “The plan” is a sophisticated digital marketing campaign that presents the business’ impeccable reputation to the public through a variety of channels with emphasis upon the quality products provided, the experience of service personnel, the geographic area the business covers, and the level of customer satisfaction the business has earned.

 Buyers have become very sophisticated over the past 20 years as they have grown more comfortable with online shopping.  There was a time when the largest Yellow Pages ad garnered the most business.  Most of the population eventually saw through that ruse.  Flashy, animated, hi-tech websites with bold colors and striking images are slowly being passed by for websites with meaningful, relevant (not boiler plate) content.





Advancement

24 07 2013
Google AdWords Certification for Walter R. Franklin

Awarded July 23, 2013





It’s The Little Things That Count!

3 04 2012

The Shaw-Walker Company was a manufacturer of high quality office equipment.  Their motto, “Built Like A Skyscraper,” and their logo showing a filing cabinet standing next to the Empire State Building with a man jumping in the bottom drawer made a powerful statement about the durability of their products.

I had the opportunity to land a national standardization contract that would have been the largest sale in the company’s history.  Prudential Insurance Co. agreed to consider a new source for their office furniture and equipment as they updated all their offices in the USA.   We were leading the competition for the lucrative contract until a team from Prudential visited our manufacturing facility in Muskegon, MI.

Although our product was by far the best in the industry, the factory was antiquated.  Bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling barely pushed back the gloom.  The team saw a foreman walk over and unlock the single Coke machine at precisely 10:00AM.  He stood next to it with watch in hand as employees lined up to make their purchase.  At precisely 10:10AM, he locked the machine.  Other out-of-date processes offended the Prudential team.  Subsequently, they decided to contract with the fledgling Steelcase Company for their furniture needs, an agreement that remains in place to this day.

The Shaw-Walker Company that was founded in 1899 failed to reach its centennial celebration.  The factory has “gone condo.”  Although its products can be found in offices throughout the country, the company simply “withered on the vine.”

Frequently, we focus so much of our attention upon our products and services that we neglect our infrastructure.  While we make vague references to the time in the future when we can focus upon our own needs, prospective clients select competitors who apply state-of-the-art techniques and procedures for their own benefit.

The company that charges thousands of dollars to create sophisticated interactive websites yet applies dated, ineffective SEO techniques to their own website is “shooting itself in the foot.”  Sophisticated buyers can easily check meta tags in website source code.  They know that “Flash” presentations cannot be viewed on iPads and iPhones.  They have read about the challenges of optimizing “Flash” websites, about ColdFusion.

Search Engine Optimization is a particularly critical element in website development.  Website structure and content must be carefully researched and planned in order to have an effective SEO strategy.  Creation of a website with a plan to optimize it after the fact or to leave optimization to a third party is a costly error that will affect the level of website activity.

This website, http://www.mollyshouse.org, was created on the basis of an SEO plan.  Twelve out of fifteen key words provide placement in the top 10 search results of all major search engines.  If you’re not delivering similar results, your competition will eat your lunch.

Start the process with meta tags. While they are a relatively small portion of the process, they are highly visible.  Their quality can raise a red flag when not used properly.  The rules regarding content and length are easy to find, and implementation is easy.  Do it right, and you will generate more website activity while demonstrating the depth and breadth of your skillsets to prospective clients.





Dilution. Dilution. Dilution.

20 01 2012

Those are the three biggest problems with Social Media.  Initially, a client had one website.  Now, he must have three:  1) Primary site 2) Smartphone (Mobile) site 3) Tablet (Mobile2) site.

Advertising was limited to paid directories.  Now, there are directories, banner advertising, ppc advertising (on multiple search engines), affiliate marketing, etc.

Social Media was limited to forums.  Now, there is Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, Twitter, Quora, Pinterest, Posterous, Yelp, Klout, etc.

The first challenge comes in determining which platform will be most effective.  That can only be done through a time-consuming trial and error process.  How long does it take to collect 5,000 friends on Facebook or 1,000 connections on Linkedin?  How many blog posts are required to achieve “critical mass?”  What about potential setbacks?  A disgruntled customer, a misspoken comment, an erroneous statement can place an impenetrable roadblock in the path to success.  Solicit too many connections on Linkedin, and you will be required to provide a correct email address for each new connection to be accepted.

The second challenge comes in identifying the true cost of your Social Media labors and the subsequent return on investment.  Is time spent hammering on a keyboard equal in value to time spent at networking events, in existing client offices, on the telephone seeking referrals from existing clients, designing new strategies or creating better product presentations?

This brilliant video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU has generated more than 12 million views since it was posted on February 23, 2010.  If .001% of the views turned into clients, then Purplefeather would be an industry standout.  That is easy to measure using the same tools we apply to weigh the success of our own marketing efforts.  The odds of creating a video, a blog post, a Facebook/Twitter entry with an equivalent impact fall somewhere between zero and none.

Until such time as Social Media becomes more streamlined with fewer platforms, or when existing platforms target specific channels, there will be too much wasted effort.





PIPA / SOPA: RIP? NOT YET!

19 01 2012

4 million people signed the Google petition by 3:00PM yesterday.  ¼ million people sent digital messages to their Congressmen through one site alone.  Numerous members of Congress had their sites crash under the volume of protests.

By 10PM last night (1/18/12), 9 of the original 39 Senate sponsors of the PIPA bill had withdrawn their sponsorship.  At last count, there are 35 supporters, 18 opponents, and 12 leaning toward opposition.  35 Senators remain uncommitted.

Senator Leahy is attempting to rewrite the legislation.  Congressman Smith has stated that he stands squarely behind the bill he wrote and will continue to push it forward.





Case Study: Digital Marketing overcomes challenges of a narrow yet geographically diverse target market.

18 11 2011
SEM - Search Engine or Digital Marketing to reach tightly defined markets

Digital Marketing Challenges: When SEO is not enough.

The client recently took ownership of a mid-rise condominium in Little Tokyo, a Los Angeles, CA neighborhood.  The condos were to be sold to a very narrow target market consisting of 1st and 2nd generation families of Japanese or Korean descent in the 55+ age group.  It was immediately clear that a large pool of viable prospects would be required since closing ratios were expected to be below industry averages.

Determining where to find the target market required identification of Japanese communities or Japantowns around the world.  While there are three in California – San Francisco, San Jose, and Little Toyo in Los Angeles; there are others throughout the US, Europe, South America, and Asia.  Scattered around the globe, the shotgun approach of typical SEO would have only limited value.  A more focused approach would provide a more satisfactory return on investment.  Pay-per-click advertising was chosen as the most desirable solution.  The ability to geographically control the placement of ads assured penetration of the target market on a limited budget.

Selection of the search terms that would trigger ad presentation was the next challenge.  “Condo” is simply too broad a term.  Modifying it with a geographic descriptor like “Little Tokyo” would help, but there are “Little Tokyo’s” in numerous communities.  Furthermore, potential buyers might begin their search before settling on a specific community.  We needed to determine the types of searches that would lead people specifically to the Japanese community in Los Angeles.

An in-depth study of the community and the area surrounding the property revealed a wealth of information.  Little Tokyo is steeped in Japanese culture.  There are museums, centers, churches, parks, and artistic displays throughout the area.  Many are named for historically significant or high profile people of Japanese descent.  These names would be familiar to and searched for by our prospects and were thus included in the campaign.

Ad content proved to be equally challenging.  The focus had to be on something other than the actual property.  Placing oneself in the position of a prospective buyer, it was necessary to identify the benefits of a purchase.  What are the quality of life aspects of living in the heart of Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA?

Culture – Little Tokyo is an extremely social community with a large number of social groups that meet as often as every day to play games, to worship, to continue societal influences.  Instead of the individual, the family is the social center.  Thus, “Old word traditions in a modern community,” and “Share the new world with old friends and family,” provides an instant comfort level.

Digital marketing through Google AdWords

Digital Marketing Challenges – A case study

Amenities – Restaurants, museums, social clubs, parks to enjoy with friends and family.  A community within a community.  While thriving within a familiar society, residents will enjoy the benefits of the Los Angeles megalopolis and all it has to offer.  That provides assurance that they will “fit in” with a familiar and comfortable lifestyle.

Since the target communities are located around the world, separate campaigns had to be created for each time zone to maximize effectiveness.  This campaign includes only text ads.  By replacing underperforming search terms and ads, the success of the project has grown.  The client is receiving the steady flow of bona fide prospects.  Sales are exceeding established goals.