This blog originally published in Printing Impressions.
Printing is a tough business. It’s custom manufacturing that companies try to streamline every day. There are variables in the materials used to produce the printed piece-from the client supplied files to the raw materials used, and while much better than the past, variables in the manufacturing process still exist. There are variables from one machine operator to the other and let’s not omit the variations of acceptability from the end client. Leaders are faced with a mountain of variables and uncertainties, yet day after day, they make it happen and get it done.
It’s not always about being the smartest person in the room. From observations over the years, and particularly this year, I’m reminded of the tenacity, the grit, and the resolve to figure things out. While some companies have much tighter controls around their processes than others, and deal will less variation from job to job and from day to day, it can still feel and look like organized chaos. Bravo to the leaders who have the vision to build these organizations and bring together a team of like-minded souls to sell, organize, process, manufacture, and ship or mail the projects to their intended audiences. Bravo to the leaders who take the risk, the leap of faith at times, to invest in new technology that will make it better, make it faster, make it for less cost, and make it different so that they can continue to provide the jobs to their staff and meet the needs of the current and future clients. Bravo.
Celebrate Client Success
I’m often reminded that clients are loyal until the day they aren’t. You can never take anything for granted and thus, the importance of celebrating the wins, of documenting the wins and sharing those with your clients. Maybe it’s a quarterly report card on your performance or simply framing the most recent piece you did for them, and presenting it to them for display in their office. Because as you are all too aware, when a project or campaign isn’t a winner, they’ll be sure to let you know. It works both ways and it works best when it’s a collaborative partnership. When you look at your client relationships, do you feel like a volunteer – you look forward to making it happen for them, or do you feel like a hostage – that you are doing this project simply because you need the work. There’s a big difference and you really do have a choice about who you work with. More on that in another post, but just saying, you didn’t build this company, take the risk, bring this great staff together, just to do work that you’re not passionate about. It can make for some tough sledding!
You Can’t Teach This Stuff
The secret sauce that makes some companies perform better than others? Not sure there is only one recipe for success. There are though, many factors that companies have in common. As I have stated before, the drive, the curiosity, the will to succeed – these are things that are hard to teach. What you can do though, is to create an environment where those traits are encouraged and talked about every day. We all know about the folks who wear their emotions on their sleeves. The owner who walks through the shop and is in a great mood often eludes a similar response from the staff. Conversely, the one who walks through the shop with a frown leaves the staff wondering what’s up. And then of course, there’s the owner who seldom walks the floor and then the staff is left to their own conclusions about how things are going, and their outcomes are generally worse than reality. As a leader, you have a choice about how you communicate and articulate what’s happening and where the business is going. You can control the narrative. Your choice, you decide. What’s the message here? Simply an attaboy to those making it happen every day. Nice job, bravo!
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.