Respect the Complainer
No one likes the perennial grouser—the person who alw ays has a complaint about some company policy or process.
But maybe it's time to reassess. To begin with, compare the complainer with the employee who apparently agrees with everything—never complains, never suggests changes and never questions authority—just does what he or she is told to do.
One obvious difference between the two: The grouser cares enough to complain and suggest improvements. Compliant employees, on the other hand, don't know enough to complain, don't ca re or just feel uncomfortable sticking their necks out; either way, they may contribute little to efforts to improve a business—and in today's highly competitive enviroment, business improvement is the name of the game.
As a manager, you've got to make a choice: Do you want a pleasant employee who contributes little or a pain in the neck who's searching for ways to improve the business?
The Y2K Bug: Protect Against Danger From the Outside
Did you know you're in grave danger of getting infected by the year 2000 bug even if all your own software is Y2K-compliant?
If those you do business with—whether suppliers, customers, distributors or clients—aren't Y2K-compliant, you can be infected if they share data with your computer.
Information technology managers of companies that are Y2K-compliant have been asking their business partners whether they are ready for the Y2K bug, and, according to a survey conducted by InternetWeek Research, a surprising number of them either confessed they weren't ready or failed to respond.
As a result of the finding, many IT managers are either suspending business relations with organizations that are not Y2K-compliant or giving them strict deadlines for compliance.
Treat Suppliers Like Customers
Most companies think of their suppliers simply as...well, suppliers. That can be a costly mistake. If you treat your suppliers the same way you treat your customers, you may gain a valuable competitive edge.
Consider this: A wise business goes out of its way to understand its customers and how they use its products. Thus, it seeks feedback from customers, hoping to develop greater insights into their needs. What if you invited your suppliers' managers to understand how you use their products? With that opportunity, a supplier may be able to recommend more economical supplies or even better ways to use them. In addition, you may be able to work out a long-term delivery schedule that benefits both of you.
800 Number for Road Warriors
If many of your staff members are on the road and dial in to connect laptop computers to your company network, consider adding a special toll-free phone number for them. That's a lot cheaper than having them charge their long-distance calls. To make the call easier, configure the laptops to first call the company's local number; if they fail to get through, then the call automatically reverts to the 800 number.
The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).
Send your ideas to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via either e-mail ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.