02 Business Tips Round-Up Part 2

March 24, 2003

Excerpted from the e-PHC Profit Report newsletter.
Jim Olsztynski, Editor-Publisher

Think Outside the Box
Steel executive Thomas Graham tells a story of thinking outside the box when he was a rookie president at Jones & Laughlin Steel. Among the company’s products at the time were railroad track spikes. It was a profitable but dying market, and the production process involved antiquated and extremely loud machines. Employees all wore ear protectors and underwent regular hearing checks, nonetheless OSHA demanded an “engineered solution” to noise reduction, meaning new machines.

The company could not justify the large capital investment for a dying business and was about give it up when someone in the company’s human resources department came up with an ideal solution. The transferred the incumbent spike machine operators to other parts of the plant, and hired deaf personnel to replace them. The company later received an award for employing the disabled.

Delegating Authority
A common mistake made by contractors is to delegate responsibility without authority. For instance, you may put someone in charge of supervising people, but unless that person also has the authority to reward or punish that person, s/he will never gain the subordinate's respect.

Same with negotiating with customers. If the person must check with the owner on every little decision, that is not meaningful delegation. It is simply turning an employee into a messenger.

Hiring Tip
Do you think certain job applicants may be inflating what they earned in a previous job as a way to get more money out of you? Ask them to bring along a copy of their latest W-2 income statement.

Check Your Insurance
Insurance costs are rising 15-20% in many parts of the country. Fearful of buyer resistance, some insurers are pushing through relatively small increases but cutting back on coverage. Double-check your policy when it comes time for renewal and compare it to the old policy. Make sure you can live with any coverage cutbacks you may notice.

Excerpted from the e-PHC Profit Report newsletter
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Jim Olsztynski

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