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Say "YES" If Your Business Is Positioned for Success

1. August 2016 07:04

By Christine Corelli, IWF Atlanta Speaker

Forget tough. Today, competition is fierce. As never before, whether you are a woodworking machinery manufacturer, cabinetmaker, or company that offers wood products, your business faces sophisticated many new competitors. And these competitors are using some very aggressive marketing strategies to shake up the status quo. 

To survive in this environment, your company needs to have smarter strategies than the competition. Your management team (in fact, everyone who works for your company) must be aligned with those strategies and be committed to working hard to support your company's efforts. Here, market research, customer input, and employee involvement are key.

Take this simple "yes" or "no" test to help you determine whether your company is positioned for future success:


1. Have you conducted research to identify consumer or industry trends and do

    you have a formal program to obtain information from your customers regarding

    their needs? ___yes____no


2. Have you consulted with groups of end-users to help you reach decisions in

    your strategic initiatives? ___yes____no


3. Did you learn what direction your competitors are taking and analyze what you

    can do to differentiate your product or service? ___yes___no


4. Have you analyzed what new markets your company can tap into? ___yes___no


5. Are you doing business internationally, or preparing to do so? ___yes___no


6. Did you involve your customers and your sales force in creating your

   strategic plan? ___yes___no


7. Are your sales goals and incentives aligned with your company's marketing

    strategy? ___yes___no


8. Did your marketing team involve your entire sales team when creating your

    marketing plan? ___yes___no


9. Did your marketing team share the consumer or end user data they obtained to

   create the plan with your sales team? ___yes___no


10. Did your company meet with your sales team to discuss strategic areas they

     may disagree with and come to a mutual understanding? ___yes___no


11. Do your product manager, chief engineer, director of operations, warehouse

      manager, etc. add their input when your sales people discuss customer needs with

     upper level management? ___yes___no


12. Is your sales team committed to "agreeing to disagree," with your plans if

     necessary, and fully support the company effort? ___yes___no


13. Does your company, recognize that where there are conflicting opinions,

      creativity is stimulated, and positive results can occur? ___yes__no


14. Did management communicate the strategic plan, marketing plan, and sales

      strategy to the entire company and obtain staff input? ___yes___no


15. Does everyone in your company—from sales to customer service, from marketing

     to R&D and from the warehouse to the front desk—fully support those plans and

     recognize that everyone must be on the same page if you are to succeed?



16. Does your company have a diversified team, or several teams, working

      continuously to determine ways to make those plans work? ___yes___no


17. Does your company realize that such teams can take fragments of ideas and

     structure a wide variety of options and solutions to problems? ___yes___no


18. Does upper level management solicit, listen, and respond to all ideas,

     selecting the best ones to implement? ___yes___no


19. Do your sales people enlist the help and expertise of your techs, product

      manager, CSR's, etc. to help their customers and do they recognize that they,

      too, are "in sales?" ___yes___no


20. Do your sales people recognize that, regardless of their individual sales

      prowess, it requires a strong sales team for ultimate company success?



21. Does your company strive to outdistance your current and future competitors

     with innovation? __yes___no


22. Is your company willing to take calculated risks to diversify what they

     offer and introduce new products to the market place that customers are

     demanding? __yes___no



23. Does your company strive to leverage vendor expertise and partner for

      success through strategic alliances? __yes___no


24. Does your company invest in training and learn faster than your competitors?



25. Is there a sense of urgency to solve any service problems, quality problems,

      or problems with employee morale? __yes___no


There are many more questions we can add to this list. For now, your goal is to

answer "yes" TO AS MANY AS possible. If you can, your company is in a better

position to grow and prosper.



Follow Harley-Davidson Motor Company - ASK QUESTIONS AND LISTEN

16. May 2016 06:33

Follow Harley-Davidson Motor Company


By: Christine Corelli

Like every other company, Harley-Davidson has had its ups and downs, but it's history teaches us a lesson. It made news (and a fortune) by asking a great questions. Here's the short version of this amazing success story.

For many years, Honda had been far outdistancing Harley in the motorcycle marketplace. Executives at Harley struggled to find the answer to this dilemma and make their mark in the motorcycle manufacturing business. Finally, the Harley execs assembled their entire workforce, including their assembly line workers, and asked them directly, "What ideas do you have to help us increase our market share?"

The response was amazing. The ideas that came from their own employees led Harley in the right direction. Some of the suggestions that day and thereafter were to take the opposite approach to marketing and advertising from Honda, develop a clothing and accessory line, and make it a status symbol to own a Harley. They also recommended that Harley's marketing and advertising department initiate campaigns targeting executives and women, something they had not done in the past. Since their culture at the manufacturing plant was such that all employees were considered "family," they also suggested that they make their dealers and customers feel like family too.

You know the rest of the story. Harley put their employees' ideas to work and became a competitor to Honda, with a highly impressive increase in market share. Not willing to cease their practice of employee involvement in their decision-making, Harley leaders continue to ask employees at all levels for their input and ideas. Today, Harley-Davidson is adapting to the changing global marketplace and it's still considered a status symbol to own one of their motorcycles, wear their clothing, and own any of their merchandise. And, they have an ever-growing number of loyal executive and female riders who are part of the Harley "family."

In addition, they know how to make their customers feel like family. They achieved this success by asking a basic question—"What ideas do you have?" And they credit their success to their greatest asset—the combined brainpower of their people.

Talking is not enough

How about you and your business? Think about it. Business experts report that eighty five percent of your career success is in direct proportion to your ability to communicate. I disagree. I believe that the ability to communicate in any given situation determines your success—not just in business—but also in life.

One of the most effective communication techniques is not what you would think. Most people would say that a significant amount of talking is the basis of the best techniques in communication. Taking a lesson from Harley, the more effective approach is asking questions.

Talking is one-sided. You just hear yourself speak—and you already know what is on your mind. What you don't know, and need to find out, is what is on the other person's mind. That allows you to expand your world. You hear ideas, uncover problems, and discover the opinions, and concerns of your customers, potential customers, and employees. You gain greater insights into what is happening in your business or service delivery. You learn ways to resolve conflicts. Most important of all, asking questions leads to good listening skills, which will help you build quality relationships.

When you ask questions, customers or prospects know immediately that they are important and that you care about their wants, needs, problems, and desires. When you ask an employee a question, you demonstrate that you respect his or her opinion and provide a voice in your decision-making process.

Active listening for sales success

Nowhere is the "art of great questioning" more crucial than in sales. Recall a lesson from Sales 101—"Mediocre sales people talk when they should be listening and listening is a function of asking. Superior sales pros ask questions to get the customer to talk. You'll never listen yourself out of a sale but you have to ask questions first."

Top sales pros create and memorize a matrix of great questions to ask customers and prospects:

• "What do you want to accomplish?"

• "What can I show you today?"

• "What are you using now?"

• "What are some problems you've had with your woodworking equipment in the past?"

• "What questions or concerns do you have?"

• "Have I answered all of your questions?"

• "Would you like a demo?" 

• "How's that big project going for you?"

• "What would be most convenient for you?"

These are just a few examples of questions that apply to almost any sales situation. They may seem obvious, but they work. Develop your own great questions, apply them, analyze what works, and memorize them to use in various scenarios.

Another basic principle from Sales 101 is "to ask for the sale." This means that you fire the final, most important question at the appropriate moment.

"Are you ready to move forward?"

"Would you like me to write it up?"

Asking for the sale should be second nature to you. Memorizing the right questions will increase your ability to close.

Asking questions helps you to learn about your level of service, build strong customer relationships, and establish higher levels of customer loyalty. Some of the more effective questions are as follows:

• "Were you pleased with our service?"

• "Is there anything more I can do for you today?"

If you have a loyal customer it's always smart to dig a little deeper.

• "What do you like about doing business with us?" 

• "What should we start doing?"

• "What should we stop doing?"

• "What should we do better?"

Every employee in your business with customer contact should ask questions with every interaction—questions that demonstrate friendliness, customer care and professionalism. These enhance customer relationships and build trust:

• "How are you today?"

• "How can I be of service?"

• "Have I answered all your questions?"

• "How do you like the new finish on the wood?”

• "How's your business doing?"

• "Is there anything more I can do for you today?"

Building strength from the inside out

Asking for input from your employees has been proven to boost morale. Unfortunately, many employees have learned not to speak up and share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns with superiors because they fear repercussions. Therefore, you must ask them direct questions. Smart business leaders regularly ask employees for suggestions and comments:

• "What are complaints do you hear most often? "

• "What more can we do to improve service and demonstrate we are truly a customer-focused company?"

• "Do you know any cabinet makers who might want to work with us?”

One of the most direct questions you should ask on a regular basis to uncover problems within your company, or with customers is "Is there anything I should I know about?" The answers could surprise you and avert a potentially damaging situation. Asking is the first step in being prepared.

Below are additional tips to apply when you are asking questions:

Tips on asking questions the right way

Always ask a direct question.
Most of the time it is better be direct to receive the appropriate answer to your questions. This is especially true when you are interacting with a passive person or making an effort to resolve conflict. Questions such as,

"John, what are your thoughts and opinions?",

"Joe, I'm sensing you are not happy. What's bothering you?" or

"Joe, I know we don't always see eye to eye, and we've even butted heads a few times. What can I do to straighten things out with you?" will go a long way to getting a response you can act upon. And if ask in a soft voice and sincere manner, it will show the person you care.

Stay "you" conscious.
When interacting with others, refrain from saying "I" as much as possible and stay "you" conscious. You do this by removing the personal pronoun and always turning your phrases toward the recipient. For example: "How do you feel about the idea?" "What are your thoughts?" "What's the most important thing to you about what was just discussed?"

Use the person's name in your question.
If you are speaking one on one, always use the person's name. This may seem obvious to you, but many people forget to do this simple rule. Don't ignore it—you will make the receiver feel important and more receptive to what you have to say. For example, "Joe, I'd like to speak with you again next week, would that be agreeable to you?" When speaking to a group, say something similar to the following— "John, Susan, Harry, that wraps it up. What comments or questions do you have?"

Observe non-verbal communication.
Asking questions is an excellent communication skill because it provides you with an opportunity to discover your listeners' personality and observe his or her body language so you can determine whether it's best to continue speaking, ask more questions and listen, or shift gears. Watch for scowls, frowns, signs of boredom, looks of disbelief, or smirks. If you identify your prospect as becoming disenchanted, immediately ask, "What are your concerns?" or "Do you have reservations?" or "What are your thoughts?" Often, these questions will correct the communication problem and involve the recipient in the exchange.

Winning employees over means great rewards for all

I experienced a real world situation where asking questions helped a new leader win the hearts of a nervous group of employees. Recently, I was a guest speaker at a company meeting where the owner was retiring and the son was becoming the new president. The purpose of the meeting was to ease fears about the transition. Most of the employees had worked for the father for many years and they were worried about what to expect from this sharp young MBA. Some were worried that they would lose their job.

In the first few minutes, he broke the ice and changed the atmosphere in the room with these words: "In the next several weeks, I will be speaking one on one with each of you. Here are the questions I will be asking you today and in the weeks ahead.

   • "What can I help you do help you enjoy your job more?"
   • "What skills do you need?"
   • "What might be preventing you from performing your job more effectively?" 
   • "What do you like about our company?"
   • "What can we do better?"
   • "How can we streamline what we do, eliminate red-tape, and keep you and our customers happy?"
   • "What can I do to make sure you and our customers feel like family?

He concluded by saying that he wanted to know from each and every one of them the answer to one final question—"What would you do if you were the new president of this company?" His entire staff broke into applause. Smart man! He scored and a positive transition was underway.

It can be habit-forming

Make it a habit to ask questions until it becomes second nature. It will improve your interpersonal skills in both business and social settings. Remember, questions lead to answers. Answers lead to rapport. Rapport leads to uncovering what others are thinking so you can respond or take action accordingly. When you craft your questions perfectly, you will dramatically improve your communication and social skills.

Don't forget to ask questions to demonstrate you are connected to customers and employees as human beings, too—"How's your family?", "How's your golf game these days?" or "Did you enjoy your vacation?"

You will benefit ten-fold from perfecting the art of asking questions: It will help you in business and in your personal life as well. Think about how might significantly increase the odds in your favor if you ask questions such as, "How was your day today?", "How did you do in school today, son?", "How would you like to watch the game with me tonight?", "Is there anything I can do for you?", or even "How are you feeling today Mom?" Makes sense, doesn't it?

Remember, eighty-five percent of your overall success in LIFE is in direct proportion to your ability to communicate. Life is for the asking so ask away.


©Copyright, 2015, Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc. - Christine Corelli is an international conference speaker, business columnist, consultant, and author of six business books including the best selling Wake Up and Smell the Competition and Capture Your Competitors’ Customers and KEEP Them. She has worked with numerous companies in the woodworking and related industries. To learn more visit www.christinespeaks.com, or call 847 477 7376






Are You a Boss or a Leader

18. April 2016 07:23

Are You a Boss or a Leader

How to Demonstrate Dynamic Leadership

And Why You Should Establish a “Zero-Tolerance” for Bad Bosses in Your Business

By Christine Corelli

In far too many businesses leadership has fallen by the wayside. The economy, rising costs, demanding customers, and fierce competition has caused most equipment dealers to have little, if any, time to think about their ability to lead. Rarely do they stop and think about how much more productive and profitable they could be if they stopped and paid more attention to this critical area of business.

 Success starts and stops with an organization's leadership.  And any business is as strong, or as weak, as the leader at the helm of their workforce.

 There are five essential facets of dynamic leadership for business success.

  1. Create the vision for the business and a smart competitive strategy to achieve goals
  2. Communicate that vision, the competitive strategy and provide direction
  3. Implement changes necessary to create and sustain success
  4. Sustain the momentum through employee motivation, reward, and recognition
  5. Execute competitive strategy 

Which is most difficult? Creating a vision is not that difficult.  Creating a smart strategy is not so easy.  Communicating can always be improved upon, and implementing change can be a real challenge. Interestingly, most business owners agree that the most difficult role of the leader is #4 – employee motivation.

 Dynamic leaders run their companies on a basic business fundamental that many seem to forget:

 Employee performance is the key to success and long-term business growth. Within the motivated employee are ideas, solutions to problems, and the ability to help their dealership develop a reputation for superior customer service, not just in Product Support, but throughout the entire company.

Employee Motivation

In an ideal world, every person you hire is self-motivated. The reality is it’s always up to owner of the company or department manager to keep employees motivated for high performance.  This is not an easy task, and much depends on how employees feel about their boss.

The Boss vs the Manager vs a Dynamic Leader:

Although these three roles are supervisory in nature, they are distinctly different. Which one are you?


Simply put, a boss is someone who owns the dealership or someone with a title who tells people what to do. They pass out orders as easily as salespeople pass out business cards. "Find that tool!" "Tag that machine!" “Clean up that warehouse!” This approach is not very effective in today's world.  

 A boss is simply that. A boss. Interestingly, the Number One cause of job dissatisfaction and demotivated employees is working for a bad one! Bad bosses micromanage people, show favoritism, talk down to their staff, and shoot down ideas. They are closed-minded and their doors are closed to new ideas and new ways of doing things. They don't care about people, they only act as if they care, and their employees see right through them.  There should be a policy of "Zero-Tolerance for Bad Bosses" in every company.


A manager directs, decides, and interacts with his or her staff to oversee operations, close sales, manage parts and service departments, and overall…make sure customers are happy and people do their job. Regardless of what type of business they work in, managers are accountable to executives for results.

Dynamic Leader

If you think of every great leader both past and present, all have two things in common – 1) They not only have a vision of where he or she wants their business to go but 2) they have the ability to influence others to go with them. They eloquently communicate their vision and have an innate ability to motivate, inspire, and influence their staff to do what needs to be done - and do it well.

Smart business owners practice dynamic leadership and insist their managers do the same. They also demand that all of their managers demonstrate leadership and lead in the same way. Many are now engaged in leadership training.

By way of example, A VP of operations of a highly successful construction and material handling equipment distributor made this comment to an industry consultant: “If only we could get every branch to perform like our branch in Tulsa.” She expounded on how well their staff performs, how productive and profitable the branch is and that the level of customer satisfaction was superb. The consultant stated, “It must be the branch manager. Show me a successful branch and I’ll show you a great leader.” The VP agreed and shared that this manager’s staff was no better than those in other branches. The big difference was this manager was also a dynamic leader who had the ability to motivate his entire team for high performance. He became the role model for all of the branch managers.


Great leaders recognize that because they have a title, they don't automatically get respect. They have to earn it.  


 “In the eyes of your employees and your customers, the extent to which you practice your values can be closely linked with their level of employee loyalty and your level of customer loyalty. They will infer what you value from your behavior and your words. Excellent leaders actively demonstrate and communicate these values on a day-to-day basis.”

Values are the beliefs and principles that guide individual behavior and form the foundation upon which an organization and all of its leaders operate. These play a strong role in leading by example. 

  • Honesty:                          The quality of showing truth in communication.
  • Integrity:                          The soundness of moral character. 
  • Professionalism:            Thinking and acting with the highest level of professionalism
  • Ethics:                               Having and adhering to a set of principles of right and moral conduct.
  • Respect:                           The quality of showing deferential regard for others in all situations. Disrespect is not tolerated.
  • Excellence:                      Being the best at what you do. “Good enough” doesn’t exist
  • Teamwork:                      Being part of a team and not always the team leader. Teamwork is a strong part of their organization
  • Customer Focused:        Focusing on keeping customers happy by keeping employees happy and committed to do so
  •  Accountability:              Holding themselves accountable to practice dynamic leadership and establishing    accountability throughout their organization. The leader and their staff know what, specifically                                               they should be accountable for.                         
  • Health and Safety:        Taking the health and safety of employees and customers seriously
  • Family :                            Treating employees and customers as if they were family and allow flexibility for employees to attend family functions
  • Continuous Improvement:  Continuously improving in their own leadership performance instilling continous improvement in their company.


Example of Company Values

This company is not in the equipment distribution business, but L.D. Docsa Associates, Inc., a GC located in Kalamazoo, MI, created its core values using LEADERSHIP as an acronym.

Loyalty to Clients and Employees

Excellence, Where “Good Enough” Doesn’t Exist

Accountability to Our Clients and Our Company

Dependability in Our Workmanship, Actions, and Safety

Everyone Working Toward the Goal – Teamwork

Respect for Each Other and Company Property

Sense of Urgency to Client and Project

Honesty and Integrity in Every Facet of Doing Business with Our Firm

Improving Continuously, Operationally, and Professionally

People, Remembering Clients and Employees Make theBusiness

Reprinted with permission.

Many dynamic leaders begin every staff meeting with a review of their core values.  Some even ask employees to relate how, specifically every value should be demonstrated. Some responses are, “Never stretch the truth or tell a lie to make a sale.” “Tell the customer the truth.” “Respect company property.” Demonstrate safety by locking out and tagging out unsafe equipment.”  What are your company’s core values, and how, specifically should your people demonstrate them?

Characteristics of Dynamic Leaders

When thinking of leadership characteristics, we often think of successful people with charismatic qualities. Great leaders do not have to have charisma. But they do have to possess admirable character traits. As you review the following list, think about which traits would most influence you to follow someone else’s lead and then rate yourself:


• Supportive








• Demonstrates core values






Surveys have revealed that the three most important characteristics they want in their leader are 1) TRUSTFUL – They want to feel they can trust their leader. 2) SUPPORTIVE - They want to be supported by their leader, and 3) DEMONSTRATES CORE VALUES. The more of these traits you possess and demonstrate, the more likely you are to earn the respect of your team. If you win the respect of your team, they will not only want to follow your lead, but will also perform for you.

Leadership Styles

Dynamic leaders have different styles. As you review these six leadership styles, consider which best describes your style.

Transformational LeadersTransformational leaders are capable of transforming entire organizations or departments. A dealer may call in a turnaround management specialist or industry consultant for help in this area, or they will hire someone with a proven track record to transform their entire culture.  Some are so dynamic and influential they do it themselves.

Creative, Experimental Risk Takers

This type of leader is a financial risk taker. Business owners who acquire or merge with other companies often have this style. They believe that risk taking, supported by numbers, can strengthen their position in the marketplace and improve their competitive stance. There are a multitude of leaders in the equipment distribution business who have made the decision to merge, buy other dealerships, and expand their offerings.

Charismatic, Domineering Battlers

Leaders who possess this style can also be described as charismatic bosses, and are not very effective in today’s business environment. Even with the current state of the job market, you might experience a high level of employee turnover if you lead by demand.

Relentless Pursuers of Performance

Relentless pursuers of performance settle for nothing less than peak performance. They drive people. A leader who demands high performance from his or her team will not tolerate an average performer. They do their best to help employees improve their performance. However, if their performance doesn’t improve, leaders with this style terminate them.

Servant Leaders

Leaders with this style believe that, after strategy, their main role is to serve their employees and help them excel. Leaders who can be described as servant leaders have hired only the best performers and provide them with the education, training, mentoring, coaching and tools they need to succeed. They work along side them.

Situational Leaders

Leaders who apply this style recognize that every employee cannot be led the same way. The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory is based on the belief that the best leaders are those who adapt their style to the individual, group, or situation to get the results they want. Leaders with this style are in tune with what motivates and inspires each individual, understand their issues or challenges, and lead accordingly.

Which style is best?  The answer may surprise you.  Leadership style doesn’t matter. What matters most, is the quality of the individual!  If the leader is respected and admired, people perform for them. In fact,

                 “The Best Leaders Make People Feel They are Working WITH Them, and Not For Them.”

They are fair and supportive of their team. They care about their employees as much as they care about their best customers. Asking questions and listening to employees is how they keep them involved and engaged. They know how to make their team feel as if they are working with them and not for them.

The Importance of Communication

Studies have shown that 85% of an individual’s overall career success is directly proportionate to his or her ability to communicate. Dynamic leaders are excellent communicators.

Consider this scenario: Business is finally picking up. You made the decision to acquire a competitor, and you must merge two different cultures and two different ways of doing business into one cohesive team. You realizethe acquired companies systems and procedures were more advanced and decided to implement them throughout the company. However, your original employees are having difficulty adapting- especially the service manager and technicians.

What was once a fairly smooth company now is on edge, and employees are unhappy. Half of your team is spending much of the day complaining about the new systems and procedures and the others are worried about losing their jobs.

In this scenario, a dynamic leader would not sit back and wait for things to blow over. He or she would immediately acknowledge the turmoil caused by the dramatic organizational changes and then proactively handle the resistance and uncertainty these changes caused.

A dynamic leader reassures every employee that once they become accustomed to these changes, their jobs will become easier. This leader supports and helps the team, and explains how the merger will improve efficiency and profitability. Finally, a dynamic leader ensures that everyone will get through the transition together, one day at a time, and asks for ideas that could make the transition easier.

Information Is Key

In today’s environment, people lose their motivation if they are not kept informed about what is going on around them. The less they know, the more their performance is negatively impacted. This is especially true when there is a major change occurring.

The President of a distribution business decided to retire. He announced that his son would become the new President.  A “town hall” meeting was held and all employees were present. The group was quiet and apprehensive. Of course, people were worried about losing their jobs, and the new President knew they would be. They would also have a problem with the fact that he was far younger than other managers, even though he earned an MBA and worked in the dealership in various job roles for several years.

These were his opening words: “I’m sure you’re all wondering whether you will keep your jobs. I have no intention of letting anyone go, nor do I plan making any major changes in the way we do business during my first year. But I am going to put my heart into making this company grow and prosper. My vision is to expand, provide more jobs and rewards will be in the picture.  I ask of you is that you give your best each day and give me your support.  Also, I know that I’m younger than most of you, and you have far more experience than I do.  So, in the coming weeks, I’ll be speaking with each of you in teams and one on one. I would like to hear from you what you would do if you were the new President of the company. I want to hear what’s working and what needs improvement. And I want to know how I can be a great president.”

He immediately won them over, and did an outstanding job of communicating.

Ten Communication Tips for Dynamic Leaders

.     1)       Be a straight shooter. Your team should always feel that they hear the truth and know that you tell it like it is.

.     2)       Communicate the highest standards for performance, customer service and your expectations.

.     3)       Avoid miscommunication. Always ask your team if your expectations, instructions, etc., are clear.

.     4)       Ensure each employee knows the company’s vision, where it’s going, and how it will get there.

.     5)        Be confident and consistent. Your employees
are listening for the confidence behind your words.

6)       Communicate what you know and what you don’t; your team will respect you for it. This openness builds trust between you and your staff.

7)       Practice the “One Minute Manager”…Catch someone doing something good. Tell them immediately. Catch someone doing something wrong, tell them right away but in private.

8)       Communicate that for every problem, there is a solution and that you want everyone to be solutions-focused.

9)       Sharpen your facilitation skills. Facilitate frequent idea-sharing sessions on how to improve customer service, teamwork, productivity, employee morale, parts and service operations and how to better support your sales team.

     10) Spend a little time each day talking to individuals and asking questions similar to those below.

What do you think? (This may be the most important question you ask.)

Do you need any help?

How can we make this place a great place to come to work each day?

What’s your opinion on the new software?

How’s your team performing?

How can we improve customer service (teamwork, morale, productivity)

Have you heard any complaints?

How can we be proactive in preventing them?

Is there anything I should know about?

Questions to Ask if You Are a Brave Leader

Am I a boss or a leader?

How can I be better?  


Tips on Employee Motivation

  Eliminate cause of job dissatisfaction – bad bosses, territorialism, negative people, underperformers, dead-weight, feeling opinions don’t count.

  Bring out the best in every employee.

  Incorporate as much “FUN” in the workplace as possible. One way, is to put up a photo or cartoon and let people place their own caption. Reward the funniest.  Draw for a $20. Bill at every meeting.  Have a quick huddle in the parking lot. Play upbeat music in the service department.  Have executives do the grilling and serve their employees. Hold a “bake” sale and use the proceeds to buy pizza. Put up a basketball hoop and picnic area.

  Take a personal interest in your staff and treat them like family

  Appreciate them and thank them on a daily basis

  Involve them in idea sharing, problem solving

  Implement small and affordable ways to reward and recognize them such as gift cards for outstanding …service.

  Take one employee to lunch every week. Draw the names.

  Throw out the time cards and tell employees you trust them.

  Throw out the Rule book too.

Dynamic leadership and motivating employees requires a great deal more. As you interact with your team members, remember: Dynamic leaders motivate and inspire employees to follow their lead and deliver their best performance. They demand that other leaders in their company to practice dynamic leadership, which ultimately improves your company’s bottom line.

For now, ask yourself this question, “Would you want to work for you?”

Christine Corelli –

Christine Corelli is the author of six business books and a dynamic conference speaker. To learn more, visit www.christinespeaks.com or call (847) 477 7376. Be sure to attend her sessions at the International Woodworking Fair.


It’s Time to Build the Muscle in Your Woodworking Business and “Get Fit” for a Successful Future

12. April 2016 09:25

It’s Time to Build the Muscle in Your Woodworking Business and “Get Fit” for a Successful Future

By Christine Corelli

Over the past few years, you’ve gotten “lean and mean.” You’ve cut costs and struggled to manage your company’s working capital.  You did all of these things and more in order to survive through the most challenging times you’ve ever experienced. 

You trimmed the fat. Now that the economy is finally improving, it’s time to build the muscle in your company and “Get Fit for a Successful Future. Although it may seem like a daunting task, there are several ways to pump up the muscle. One of the most effective is to establish an Accountability Culture. Creating this type of culture will provide you with a competitive edge while increasing your opportunities for long-term business growth.  It will also make your job much easier, and help you to develop a great reputation.

Where to Begin

Interestingly, if you were to ask your office staff and workers to define “accountability,” you may find that each person has a different definition. Some might not even have a clue. Begin to establish accountability by explaining its importance to your employees and help them to clearly understand its meaning.

In simple terms, accountability means that an individual is responsible for a positive result in their job role and accepts that responsibility. It also means that an individual must answer to you and their immediate boss. In progressive companies, however, employees are not only accountable for their performance, but they are also accountable to every member of their team. In addition, to help their company move forward, they are accountable to display initiative beyond their job description.  For example, if an employee sees something that needs to be done, they just flex their muscles and do it.  If someone needs help they help. If they receive a problem they own the problem. And, they take ownership for their role in the construction project.

Real world example

A prime example of how to establish accountability comes from a business owner. Each year in he holds an meeting. He takes his employees to a restaurant with a private room and breaks them into groups of three. Then, he directs each team to create a list of where they think the entire company performed well the previous year. Then, together, they discuss how they can build upon what they did well. 

The next area of discussion is on where performance improvement is needed. How well did we perform for our customers? Did we deliver on time? How was the quality of our workmanship?

 Proactive Complaint Prevention is key

Next, there is a discussion on how complaints might have been prevented, and what new policies and practices should they put into place to prevent complaints in the future.

Time to Excel

The next areas of discussion are to identify ways they exceeded customer expectations and how they can continue to exceed – even “Wow” the customer. Here’s where the combined brainpower of a team can come up with ideas and solutions to problems.

Accountable for what?

Next is the most important part of the event. Together, the group compiles a list of what every employee should be accountable for. Agreement is reached. This business owner recognizes that Employee Involvement is what makes organizations fit for success, as people tend to “buy-into” what they help to create.

An “Accountability List” is compiled and given to each employee. Some departments are different than others. The owner directs them to look at that list often. Throughout the year, the owner and managers “talk up” the promises they made on their “Accountability List” to their employees.

Accountability creates excellence

Build the muscle and get fit for success. Define the meaning of accountability to your employees and ask what it means to them.  Clarify the areas in which people will be held accountable. Expectations must be stated in a specific and clearly differentiating manner. To accomplish this and strive for excellence in all you do, define precisely whatever old behaviors or attitudes must be abandoned, and what new behaviors must be exhibited on a consistent basis. Below are examples of how your list might look.

“We will be accountable to:

Make sure our inventory is neat.

Never cut corners. We know that if the job is not done right, people can get hurt.

Take safety seriously, if not to an extreme

Ask if we are not sure we will ask.

Make every effort to answer the phone by the third ring and apologize if a customer is put on hold.

Improve upon how we keep the factory running smoothly.

Bring a positive attitude to customers and each other every day

Recognize that with every interaction with customers, we must remember that we are “ambassadors of the business and have the biggest effect on customer loyalty.

Be cost-conscious and avoid waste in every area

Respect company property – trucks, tools, and equipment.

Make every effort to become the best woodworking business by continuously improving the level of service we provide

Provide the same high level of service to each other, as we do to customers

Work together for the betterment of our company.

Deliver our best performance, with every task, and every interaction, every day.”

Be Patient

Positive change does not occur overnight.  At first, you may encounter some resistance and uncertainty from your team on whether establishing an accountability culture will benefit them as individuals. Set the tone and be the example for others to follow. Be relentless in your pursuit of accountability and excellence and consistently communicate its importance to others.  If you are a great boss, where workers respect and admire you, and are happy to see you when you come in each morning, your job will be easier.

Hire Right

Communicate your Accountability list and customers service policies to new hires.  Let them know they must agree to adhere to these, or they will not fit in with your culture and your team. Hire only the absolute best and most talented people who fully accept accountability.

The Bottom Line

In your efforts to establish accountability in your business, keep this in mind: You will never succeed if your people are not made to feel valued. Ideally, management should be accountable to treat their employees as well as their best customers. Recognize it’s up to your entire leadership team to keep people motivated and help instill this culture.   You motivate them by being the best leader you can possibly be, while setting the highest standards for quality workmanship and superior customer service.

Treat employees with respect and appreciate their efforts on a daily basis. To support your Accountability culture, provide a working environment that fosters dynamic leadership, employee involvement and empowerment.

Be absolutely the best boss you can be! Then, you will be able to establish the accountability you need to build the muscle in your business and become fit for success in the future.


©Copyright, 2016 Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc.

Christine Corelli will be a featured speaker at the Woodworking Fair. She is the author of six business books including the best selling Wake Up and Smell the Competition. Don’t miss her sessions! To learn more visit www.christinespeaks.com, or call 847 581 9968.