When tempers flare among workers, don’t immediately assume it’s caused by personality incompatibilities. Often disputes are ignited and fueled by underlying organizational problems.
Disputes may grow out of confusion over lines of command (“I make the final decisions in this area.”), overlapping authority (“Don’t tell me what to do.”) or contradictory orders from on top (“The director told me—not you—to take care of that.”).
Such operational problems can lead to frustration that builds to the point of a blowup. It’s not something that can be papered over. Top management has to root out the problem and determine who has authority over what.
For Good Measure
If you want your accounting department to be more innovative and get beyond recording and tracking conventional data—such as sales and earnings—give it some interesting metrics to monitor that could have a big impact on your bottom line.
One example: Track the less-then-obvious performance of the sales department—not just how many widgets it sells. Pay close attention to whether the number of active customers is rising or falling or whether sales representatives are making more or fewer cold calls. If the number of customers declined and the number of cold calls rose, it is likely the salespeople are not nurturing existing customers and their marketing efforts are no longer effective.
As a result, it may be time to nudge a complacent sales manager to revise the current sales strategy or even to seek outside training for the staff. Or it may be time to replace the sales manager.
Other signs the sales staff is out of touch: When asked why sales fell, you hear excuses such as “They say our prices are too high” or “It’s not in our budget.”
Simple Motivational Ideas
Send an e-mail or leave a voice-mail message to a subordinate that says, “That was a good job.”
Attach a personal thank-you note to a paycheck.
When employees return from a trip or vacation, tell them they were missed.
Send some subordinates to meetings you normally attend to broaden their experience and to signal you trust them.
What’s in a Name?
When the name on the door is the Credit and Collection Department, you can be sure the image that title evokes is less than positive. If anything, the credit department is probably considered by both your employees and your customers as a necessary evil—not doing “friendly” work.
Maybe it’s time to recast that negative image. First, you can rechristen the department with a more customer-focused name such as the Customer Support Department. And maybe it’s time to rethink the term credit limits to a more positive credit lines .
|An Invitation |
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.