Philie Group Blog

Set Your Team Up For Success
By Mike Philie

When you participate in a sporting event you know the rules of the game, the consequences of breaking the rules (fouls or penalties), how to accumulate points and how to prevent your opponent from scoring and lastly, how to win. We’ve been doing this since we were kids and the concept carried forward to our adult lives. As a business owner or senior manager, part of your role is to make sure that the rules are clear and that everyone knows how to win. This would appear to be common sense but it is not always common practice.


There is always a good reason when the rules or procedures are enforced for some, but not for all. Or when told that the bypassing of the standard procedures is nothing new and that the team is frustrated because nothing is being done about it. How much fun is it competing with someone only to find out that you have to adhere to the rules and the others can do whatever they please?


You probably wouldn’t want to play for very long without re-negotiating the rules. How well do your employees follow the rules? Do they know the rules?


Let’s look at un-planned spoilage in manufacturing. When you drill down to examine a spoilage job, how often do you uncover that at least part of the spoilage occurred because some “pre-established” rules, or procedures, were bypassed. Someone may have taken a shortcut to get the job out faster or to meet his or her interpretation of the expectations?


OK so they broke or bent the rules. What happens next usually depends on the severity of the spoilage and who the person is. Here is a great coaching opportunity. Sure, they may get written up and a copy of the report goes into their file, but what did everyone learn from this? What did you learn about how well the procedure works — is it still relevant? Is the person coachable or is it always someone else’s fault?


Another example during these lean times is that many have cut out overtime for the shop. How’s it working? I see several shops that have tried to cut out OT only to still have some because of client demands. What we see is that it’s not always cut and dried. If a client tells you that they need it on Monday and the only way to deliver is by working OT, you may not have an option if you want to retain the business. I won’t argue whether or not you charge for it as that’s based on your existing business model.


The point here is this — did the client say they needed it by Monday or is Monday the “normal turnaround” date that someone in the plant assigned to the job. Did a sales rep or account manager skip the “thanks for the order, when do you need it” question? Don’t take anything for granted. Before writing that OT check, ask the customer when they really need the job. Sounds like it should be normal procedure but believe me it’s not always the case.


As I write this article, NHL hockey is back in action. How many goalies are in the net at any one time? The answer is one. There is only one goalie in the net at any one time. The folks in front of the goalie are the defense. Their role is to play defense and not to be in the net with the goalie.


Back to printing … you have folks responsible for selling and you have folks responsible for getting the orders out. The sales reps sell and the account managers or CSR’s make sure it gets out the door. They each have their roles to play just like the goalie and the defense. How often do you see your sales reps hanging out or “helping” the CSR’s? Are they really helping or getting in the way. Are they being the assistant goalie for your team? When they are in the office clogging up the works with the CSR’s, who is out there selling (besides your competition)?


I usually hear that it’s all in the name of taking care of our good customers. Like members of any team, the CSR’s and sales reps each have their roles, should be accountable to their procedures or rules and should have a clear vision of what they need to do in order to win. Make sure the rules of the game are clearly defined for each person or department.


Your results can be impacted by how well the company’s performance expectations have been outlined and communicated to everyone. In this blog we discussed waste, overtime and selling, but it goes for every facet of the business.


Your team is impacted by how well you coach them when they struggle and how well you show them a path to success. While we usually are good at finding those instances when expectations were not met, challenge yourself to find times when the expectations were knocked out of the park! This renewed emphasis can have both a positive influence on morale as well as overall job performance.


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, LinkedIn or email at


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