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What Henry Ford Knew That Many CEOs Have Forgotten

Henry FordWe all know a lot about Henry Ford. But the two of us didn’t know much about Herbert Casson until recently. Now we have a growing fascination.

Casson began his career as a minister and ended it as an author. He was a Methodist turned socialist turned capitalist. He was one of the people featured in the book, 50 Key Figures in Management.

A capitalist with a better way to get rich

It was what he said about Henry Ford that caught our attention. Here are a few excerpts, written as a contemporary of Ford’s:

“Judging by results, Henry Ford is the most successful manufacturer in the world. He pays the highest wages. He makes the highest profits. He sells the cheapest goods.

Henry Ford is a complete answer to the silly Marxian theory that a capitalist can only make money by robbing his employees or the public.

Henry Ford robs nobody. He is not an exploiter of the proletariat.

He is a multi-millionaire, and every penny of his money is clean.

His enormous profits are only a part of what he saves the public; and he pays his workers far more than they could make if they were on their own.

Henry Ford is a capitalist, and he shows all capitalists a better way of getting rich.

Scoffing at Ford

After telling the story of Ford’s fascinating journey from farmer to entrepreneur, Casson continued:

“We may scoff at him if we like—if we are foolish enough; but it seems to me that he is the one who has the joke on the rest of us.

Henry Ford knows how. He has solved his business problems. He has shown us the one right way to handle men and produce goods and make profits without making enemies.

It would be better for all of us if we STUDIED Ford more and scoffed at him less. The more I find out about him the more I am impressed with his ability and his sense.

What the world needs is more Henry Fords; that is the truth, whether we like it or not.

If we had 1,000 Fords, we would have high wages, high profits, low prices and no labor troubles. We would have peace and prosperity.”

Ford and his employees

He goes on to discuss how Ford treated his employees:

Take, for instance, Ford’s methods as an EMPLOYER. In this respect he is most peculiar. He has followed a most unusual course, and he has made a great success of it.

The fact is, that Henry Ford seems to regard himself as a LABOR LEADER rather than an employer.

He gives his men MORE than they ask.

He gives them better working conditions than they had ever thought of.

He watches over them and protects them.

He has made his men the best-paid and most contented workers the world has ever seen.

He was one of the few leaders to hire convicts and people with disabilities. He treated all of his employees like people. Casson concludes:

“He has stopped the war between the workers and the management. He has established peace and goodwill.

He has shown every other employer what can be done.”

Entrepreneurial CEOs today can learn a lot from Ford. You can have it all. It just takes some ingenuity which begins with a mutual trust between you and your people. To paraphrase Ford, your people might become good customers, too…if you treat them well.

Source: Tips on Leadership or the Life Stories of Twenty Five Leaders

This book was written by Casson in 1929 and republished in 2003. We found it riveting so we highly recommend it to you.

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Do Entrepreneurs Thrive on Chaos?

chaos“If everything is under control, you are going too slow.”  ~ Mario Andretti, world champion race car driver.

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George KruegerI posted this quote on Twitter and Facebook last week and got a number of responses. I found this one by David Kasprzak (@flexpencil) particularly interesting: “And if nothing is under control, you are going too fast.”

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Mary-Lynn FosterIt’s the Goldilocks principle – you don’t want too little; you don’t want too much.

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Employees want stability

Entrepreneurs thrive in the midst of chaos. It’s a reality. However, it shouldn’t be a goal. For some entrepreneurs, it seems it is the goal. They try to go (and grow) too fast. The result is nothing is under control as David pointed out.

The problem with growing too fast is that most people (that means your employees) want stability at work. Stability equals security. So you need to make sure you provide as much as possible, even if it’s not something you need.

Here are two ways to help your people deal with chaos:

1. Direction. Speed without direction leads you off the track. You may go far but you won’t get where you want to go.

2. Priorities. Speed without priorities means you’re racing in a circle. You’re driving a lot but you’re not going anywhere.

Bad chaos and good chaos

Direction without speed won’t do you much good either, especially in today’s hyper-competitive business world. If everything is under control – if there’s no chaos – you’re not going fast enough.

But chaos can be good or it can be bad. It depends on its source. Consider these three examples:

1. An employee can create it. They don’t get on board with your vision and values. It creates a negative energy. You need to let them go.

2. Lack of structure may create it. In the early stages of a venture, culture trumps structure. As you start getting a handle on products and markets, you need to develop systems. But we entrepreneurs resist and it creates chaos. The result is poor customer service and inefficient employees.

3. Success creates it. Your customers love your products and your company. You’re scrambling to keep up with their demand. This is the kind of chaos you want! Keep pushing for BIGG success!

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The One-Minute Layoff

watchWe have a friend who was recently let go from a company for whom he had worked for nearly twenty years. The entire conversation with his supervisor took less than a minute.

To clarify the situation, he was one of twenty or so people who lost his job that day at the local branch of a large company. This scenario was repeated over and over again at all the branches of that company as they responded to low earnings.

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So here’s our first question:

Why do corporations treat humans inhumanely?

In most businesses, people are the most precious asset. So why do corporations act like they’re not. And let’s be clear here – corporations don’t do anything. They can’t. It’s humans who treat humans like this.

It’s the managers within those companies who are doing this. It’s probably their managers, or their manager’s manager, who insists that it be done.

Managers within companies are being asked to do more and more with less and less. So some people get laid off. In many, if not most cases, they’re good employees who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They’re reasonable people who can understand that sometimes tough choices have to be made. They’ve cared for their employer; they expect their employer to give them the same respect.

Which leads to our next question:

Why do companies burn bridges?

We’re told from a young age that we shouldn’t burn bridges. We get upset when our employees fail to give us notice. We think we deserve that much respect.

Don’t our employees deserve respect too?

We also believe that you have to understand the bigg picture. These employees you’re letting go today may be your best candidates tomorrow – if you handle it properly.

These people may be customers, too. They may know people who are your customers. What are you doing to your reputation when you show no respect for your employees?

And what are you saying to the employees who remain? Aren’t you saying that people don’t matter? That the only thing that’s important is this quarter’s earnings?

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He deserved more

Doesn’t an employee who’s been with a company for nearly twenty years deserve more than a minute from his manager when he gets laid off? We think so!

We think he deserved a conversation at least twenty times that long! How about a minute for every year he devoted? Is that asking too much? We don’t think so!

We think he deserved a complete explanation about what was going on and why his position was being eliminated.

We think he deserved to be reassured that he hadn’t done anything wrong.

We think he deserved to know if it was possible that his position would be available again if the company turned things around.

We think he deserved his manager’s best guess about the likelihood of that happening.

We think he deserved to know what resources were available to him to find another job or career, even if the company wasn’t willing to pay for it.

We think he deserved a written letter of recommendation that he could use to find that next position.

We think he deserved to be thanked for all that he had done.

We think he deserved to be treated like a human being!

We think managing is a tough job. But don’t make it tougher by treating people inhumanely and burning bridges. Give them the respect they deserve. Otherwise, you’ll lose more in the long run, as a manager and as a human being. Oh, and one more thing, your company will lose even more than you do.

What do you think?

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Becoming An Entrepreneurial Employee

employeesBigg success is life on your own terms. Work is one of the five elements of bigg success. That’s our focus today.

Just a generation or so ago, entrepreneurs weren’t highly regarded. The thought was that they were people who no one else would hire.

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Now it seems that most people want to be an entrepreneur. People think that climbing the corporate ladder robs you of your individuality. You become a mindless worker bee.

People associate owning your own business with freedom. It can be liberating. Picture your typical day owning your own business …

You’re the last one in every morning. It’s not like anyone’s going to fire you. Of course, you’re the first one out the door at the end of the day. You’re the boss! You take long lunches. Most days, when the weather’s nice, you’re out on the golf course.

If only it were true!

The reality for many entrepreneurs – especially those with an early stage business – is you’re the first to arrive in the morning and the last one out the door at night. If you take lunch at all, you may eat it at your desk while you keep working. You’re not out playing golf most afternoons. In fact, you’re doing well when you can squeeze in a little play time over the weekend.

Do you remember the BTO song, Takin’ Care of Business? They said that self-employed people “work hard at doing nothing all day. Obviously they had never spent time with a start-up entrepreneur!

It can be very stressful, particularly when you take on employees and have to meet payroll. You have fixed costs to cover every month. There are so many hats to wear, so many things to do, so much to keep up on. It’s easy to feel like you’re buried in work.

Not exactly the fairy tale we often think about.

We’re purposefully painting a bleak picture. Owning your own business definitely has its upsides, but it isn’t for everyone. Some people are much happier keeping their day job.

However, we think there are synergies between the two. Here are six tips to become an entrepreneurial employee:

Select the right career

Bigg success is life on your own terms. It starts internally. Think about the three P’s – passions, preferences and proficiencies. We have a great personality test in The Bigg Success Store that will help you with this. It’s free!

Now you’re ready to look outside yourself. Entrepreneurs look at 2 C’s – customers and competitors. As an entrepreneurial employee, your customers are potential employers. Your competition is other people who do what you do. You’re looking for a mismatch – too many employers and too few potential hires.

Add value

Don’t settle for being average and ordinary. Set yourself apart from all the other potential hires by becoming an expert in your chosen field. Consistently deliver superior results and you’ll become invaluable.

Solve problems

Take on projects that no one else wants. Be positive. See solutions where others see only problems. If you solve problems, money will follow.

Work!

Entrepreneurs work long hours, especially in their early days. Entrepreneurial employees do the same. If you can’t work a little longer, work a little harder. Spend less time chatting and more time being productive.

Embrace change

Change creates opportunity. So welcome change. Continually reinvent yourself. Think about yourself at this time last year. If you don’t have any new skills, if you can’t add anything more, if you aren’t producing better results … why should you get paid more?

Retain earnings

Save means safe so save and invest. Entrepreneurs retain earnings to fund growth. You’ll save to give yourself the liberty to get out of a bad situation as a last resort. And to help you survive through the inevitable downturns and associated layoffs.

You can choose to be entrepreneurial in the traditional sense or by going the corporate route. You choose because bigg success is life on your own terms.

Do you think employees can be entrepreneurial?

Let us know by leaving a comment below, calling us at 888.455.BIGG (2444) or e-mailing us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

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Thanks for reading today’s post. Please join us next time when we’ll discuss a new trend that may affect your retirement. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Lead Your People to Lead

leading.jpgBigg success is life on your own terms. The five elements of bigg success are money, time, growth, work and play. Today we’ll focus on time.

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Bigg Question

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marylynnRenee called us with her bigg question. She’s been a manager for a few months. She’s having trouble getting all of her work done because her employees keep coming to her with problems that they could easily solve themselves. She feels herself getting more and more stressed about this situation. She wants our suggestions.

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Results, not tasks

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georgeRenee, you’re not alone. This is a common problem with first-time managers. I’ve fought this myself. We’re told, “If you want the job done right, do it yourself.” So we don’t empower people like we need to so they feel comfortable making decisions. We need to help our people build their personal leadership skills.

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You do that by focusing on the results, not the tasks. It’s a conversation about the “what”, not the “how”. What are you trying to achieve as a group? Then break your overall plan into who is to do what by when.

Now every individual in your charge knows for what they’re responsible. Be sure they (and their peers) know they have the authority to do what needs to be done to reach the desired result.

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Guiding principles

Let them know you believe in them. Tell them you’re there to help them when they run into something they can’t solve on their own. However, there are two guiding principles when they think they need your help.

1st – If we’ve discussed it before, follow the precedent.

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georgeThere’s no need to rehash old turf. I want my people to show me that they can learn. I’ll tell them exactly that!

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marylynnYou don’t want to hit your head into the same wall again and again. There will be challenges. Let’s make them new ones! I’m here to help you as long as we aren’t just dealing with the same old problem stated in a different way.

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2nd – When you present a problem, offer a solution.

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georgeI remember discovering this principle, for exactly the reason Renee is saying in her question. I had to find an answer for people constantly bringing up problems without taking any responsibility for the solution. This guiding principle took care of that.

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marylynnHelping your people develop their personal leadership skills leads to bigg success … for them and for you!

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What have you done to get your people to take a leadership role?

Please share that with us by leaving a comment below, calling us at 888.455.BIGG (2444) or sending us an e-mail at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

Thanks so much for the gift of your time today. Please join us next time when we talk with a person who used vision boards to reach bigg success. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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