Wednesday, March 30, 2011

TEC presents Inspirational Leadership 2011 featuring Simon Sinek

Join TEC and BizTimes Media at the Inspirational Leadership 2011 event on April 14, 2011. We are excited to announce Simon Sinek, trained ethnographer and author, as the featured speaker.

Table seating is sold out for this event, however, you can participate via our live video feed. Contact Michele Bernstein at 262-821-3340 or by email at for more information.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Philosophies on leadership best practices

At TEC, our members come together to share personal and organizational success stories and struggles to help create best practices for other leaders. This confidential environment allows TEC members to solve real business problems. However, the types of issues and solutions our members discuss today will change in the future.

How would you best describe the future of leadership best practices? What have you found to be the most consistent philosophy in your organization?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to avoid working in silos

The larger your organization, the more common it is to find your business falling into silos of separate functional groups. When this happens, effective communication is lost because each department loses sight of how all groups fit together to form the big picture.

Here are three tips to avoid working in silos:

Keep communication open. Holding company-wide meetings to share organizational information happening across all groups helps employees understand their role in the organization and who to go to in another department when they need something.

Lead by example. Bring together your leadership team in regular meetings. This allows  a more detailed update of information and team leaders can discover ways to bring together different departments. Also, invite other team leaders to sit in on your team meetings.

Reward collaboration. Make innovation a part of your company's culture and reward groups working together. Add this recognition to your company-wide meeting agenda.

How does your organization promote collaboration?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How does your company avoid working in silos? [POLL]

TEC brings together leaders from a variety of industries and organizational structures and sizes. We pride ourselves on collaboration and bringing together different points of view to solve business problems. The same rules apply within an organization. Often times departments fall into silos and lose touch with other minds in the organization.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Utilizing competition in team building activities

Productivity and teamwork go hand-in-hand when building a successful business. Team building exercises are a great way to promote teamwork, build relationships and teach a team how to overcome challenges together.

Often times, these types of activities are a game or competition. Friendly competition ignites passion, emphasizes cooperation and helps develop natural team roles. When a team is focused on the end result of the game, hidden talents emerge in the excitement and people assume roles they never had the opportunity to before.

Contrarily, some team members get so caught up in the competition that they forget why they are doing the activity in the first place. Team-building activities are not worthwhile if your employees only remember the game they played or who won.

Share with us and other leaders the best and worst team building activity you've tried. How do you ensure that your team benefits from your activity? In what ways can you connect the activity to daily work life?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Encouraging NCAA pools as a team bonding strategy

March Madness is here! One way to bring employees together and talking is with a company-wide NCAA pool.

Will you be joining the madness? If so, who's in your final four?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Employee wellness programs positively impact your bottom line

With health insurance costs rising for employers, ways to increase savings are top of mind for today's business leaders. Healthy employees cost less, have greater productivity and higher morale. Business leaders are now realizing how wellness programs and health-management plans affect the bottom line.

To create an active culture in any organization, consider these health and wellness solutions:

  • Health screenings to measure high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc. 
  • Health savings accounts
  • On-site Nurse
  • Speakers
  • All-staff meetings to include a company wellness update
  • Mental wellness support services  (depression, stress, grief, etc.)
  • On-site health facilities, fitness classes and stretch breaks
  • Health fairs - experts on health, safety, financial, etc.
  • Leverage partnerships with local companies
  • Healthy food options for meetings and lunches
  • Promote active competitions and clubs 
  • Provide flu shots
To learn more about wellness plan implementation and ROI measurements, BizTimes Milwaukee is presenting The Wellness Summit on April 15, 2011. The event will provide a hands-on, practical and educational opportunity for company leaders to hear from expert panelists from corporations implementing programs as well as industry experts on short-term and long-term business solutions.

Do you have advice for other business leaders looking to reduce insurance costs?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Management: Fulfillment satisfaction

Changes in corporate infrastructure must begin at the top
My wife and I had the chance recently to see fulfillment at its absolute worst, and the people involved trying to perform at their absolute best.

We bought three major replacement appliances – a microwave, an electric oven and a dishwasher – all in stock, from the same local mass merchandiser.

They were to be delivered about 10 days later, to allow for an ongoing kitchen re-tiling project. The day before they were supposed to arrive, we were told that due to redundant scheduling, delivery would be postponed for another five days.

I pointed out that this was totally unacceptable because the old appliances had been removed and we had a house full of guests arriving within the next few days.

Calls were made to four different fulfillment providers in three other states to remedy the delivery problem. The delivery date changed by only a day, and the appliances arrived on time. Now the fun begins.

What went wrong
  1. The delivery fulfillment people were responsible for hard-wiring the power cord on the oven but forgot to install it. They weren’t responsible for installing the dishwasher or microwave.
  2. It took another day to find an electrical contractor to connect the oven.
  3. The people who were supposed to install the dishwasher and microwave were no-shows and claimed they called us but no one answered. There were no calls from them on our caller I.D.
  4. A day later, an installer showed up from a neighboring state, only to point out that the microwave unit was severely damaged, presumably dropped en route, and unusable. We had to make another trip to the store to select a comparable microwave because the model we originally ordered was out of stock at that store and at all other stores in the Milwaukee area.
  5. The installer from the adjoining state returned later in the day, on his way home, to install the microwave. But it, too, had to be returned because it was a poor match with the other appliances.

The fulfillment puzzle
There are lessons to be learned here for any business that considers fulfillment important for customer satisfaction.
  1. Starting in sales, data processing terminals must be equipped with sufficient information to accurately determine the complete fulfillment process at the time the products are sold.
  2. It’s inefficient to use the services of different fulfillment vendors, located in different states, who don’t communicate with each other except by phone.
  3. Don’t try to solve fulfillment problems by committee. Someone should have the title of Fulfillment Manager and manage a fulfillment team remotely.
  4. Independent contractors should be required to meet fulfillment expectations without exception. Any schedule changes should only be approved by the Fulfillment Manager.

It starts at the top
We all know that any changes in corporate infrastructure have to begin at the top. 
Have you seen the TV show “Undercover Boss”? Most of the participating CEOs are dumbfounded and shocked when they find out how the work of their organizations actually gets done. So what makes for effective infrastructure?
  1. Clean lines of communications between corporate and all operating entities. When a fulfillment problem develops, for example, don’t tell someone who’s trying to solve the problem that “Jack is out sick today, and he was handling that one.”
  2. Every action begets another action. Almost every sophisticated data terminal transfer system has a real-time archive capability. There’s no excuse for not documenting all transactions relevant to an infrastructure problem.
  3. Communication between two different companies is paramount. Working with a partner company that’s located near you is preferred because you can actually reach out and touch someone. But if that isn’t possible, then use technology like GotoMeeting, Skype or any other program that allows videoconferencing or webinars.
  4. Finally, reduce errors and waste by having procedures that are followed consistently, and have a process for measuring how well they’re followed.

The people
I have to admit that the store employees were very concerned about my problem and tried to help, but they had poor tools to work with. Their computer and data networks were simply too slow, or unable to connect with the delivery people.

Fulfillment companies seem to have no real vested interest in the retailer. They see themselves in the middle and don’t have managers to help them solve problems. I doubt the motivation is there either.

I’ll bet many of you have had problems similar to mine. Here’s the important message, particularly in this new economy: If you were the customer, would you want to shop at that store again?

Until next month, put fulfillment satisfaction on your management agenda. 

Which wellness area would benefit your team the most?

A great leader is a well-rounded individual and influences others to be the same. Utilizing and offering wellness programs for your team is a good way to accomplish a healthy work-life balance as well as to open the door for dialogue and team bonding.   

Which area of wellness would your team benefit the most from? What is your company currently offering that you would recommend to other leaders? What types of activities would you like to see more of?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

C-level executives of the future

One feature of TEC that is highly valued by our members is the monthly one-on-one mentorship with our Chairs. The unique bond and trusting relationship developed between a TEC Chair, who has a wealth of experience dealing with a variety of business or personal challenges on an executive level, and a member, who might be facing those same challenges for the first time, allows them to talk openly about issues and find solutions together.

According to the Harvard Business Review article titled "The New Path to the C-Suite", C-level executives today have more in common with their executive peers than with the employees in the department they run. Based on research by the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, consistent findings for the future requirements of C-level jobs reveal that leadership skills matter more than technical and functional expertise.

What type of mentorship programs does your company offer to aspiring C-level executives? What skill set does your organization target or emphasize in professional development programs? Do you know a leader who would benefit from TEC's one-to-one business coaching?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The TEC feature members value the most

TEC is about peers helping peers tackle serious and significant business obstacles. In a TEC Chair Talk, we asked a few of our chairs what they like most about being involved with TEC. Favorites include learning experience gained from speakers and successful business leaders to making a difference in the business world.

TEC Chair Talk: What do you like about being involved with TEC? from TEC Midwest on Vimeo.

To represent TEC's mission, we'd like to open the question up to our peers for discussion. Tell us, what is the aspect of TEC that you value the most?