To Learn More About Finances- Or Any Field You Are Weak In- Ask the Expert You Have Access To
SEEK THE WISDOM OF OTHERS,” CHALKER ADVISES. Although, ostensibly, Greg Chalker has never heard of Ben Zoma, he embodies his directive to learn from everyone. Chalker’s first teacher? His father.
“I would ask him questions as I saw him make a decision,” says Chalker, “why he made that decision —‘Hey Dad, what is buying a house like?’ ‘Why would you buy versus rent?’ ”
Throughout the years, Chalker would similarly pick the brains of friends or colleagues who had met with success, to glean advice, different perspectives, or other insight from their knowl-edge and experience.
“I encourage people to actively seek out their network,” he continues. For example, “As you work with your accountant, ask her why she’s making the choices that she’s making, why she’s recommending what she is to you. Try to understand what’s driving her decision-making on be-half of your business.” This type of questioning leads to invaluable hands-on learning.
Early In Your Career Seek Out a Range of Opportunity to Push Yourself to Build New Skills
AT A COLLEGE INTERNSHIP, GREG’S MANAGER OFFERED HIM PROFOUND ADVICE: “HE TOLD ME WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG IN YOUR CAREER, YOU SHOULD SEEK OUT A DIVERSE SET OF ASSIGNMENTS TO BROADEN YOUR SKILL BASE.” Before you have decades of experience and are set in your ways, it’s easier to move around and take on new challenges.
“I took that to heart,” Greg asserts. “When I started my career at Honeywell, I purposely sought new assignments that would stretch my skills and stretch my viewpoint in the world of business. That served me really well later.”
In fact, one of the draws of Capital One was the company’s culture of learning, of personal growth and professional growth. When Greg learned about this during the interview process, “That got me really excited because that was something I felt I had done a fair amount of early in my career. In the 13 years I’ve been here, I worked in almost every segment of the business and a lot of the different functions as well.
“I tend to seek assignments that give me a challenge. That gets me excited to come to work every day.”
Search for Hidden Costs, Which are Often Significantly Larger Than Direct Costs
A STUDENT OF THE PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT METHODOLOGY LEAN SIX SIGMA, Chalker believes in getting the business as streamlined as possible and cutting anything that doesn’t add value. When you’re looking for where to cut costs, it’s important to think about those that are not as obvious.
“Some are hidden underneath the surface,” he explains. “We like to think internally about what we call the ‘cost iceberg.’ It’s awfully big under the water. What you see on top is usually your direct cost and your budget and things you’re working on. What’s under the water is where a bigger percentage of your costs are hidden.”
Take the cost of poor quality, for example. The costs you can put down on paper might be the costs of extra inspections or paying out warranties for broken products. But less obvious is money lost from customers who decide not to buy your products anymore or the cost of ruined materials that now need to be discarded or slower production times.
“This methodology [Lean Six Sigma] helps you look at the costs that are underneath that waterline.”
To Maximize Productivity, Make Sure Your Employees’ Personal Goals are Aligned With the Company’s
THERE ARE TWO THINGS THAT GET IN THE WAY OF EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY, ACCORDING TO CHALKER. One is bureaucracy, sending employees through unnecessary steps or approvals to get their work done. “I like to give them as much runway — an easy path from A to B — as possible,” says Chalker.
The other is one that managers might not consider. “Some form of misalignment between the organization’s goals and your skills and expertise, the things you feel like you bring to the table.” If the goals don’t line up, employees won’t be giving their all.
On the other hand, “When associates are aligned [with the organization’s mission], bringing their full selves to work every
day, their full skills and expertise, and that then supports the organization’s goals and mission and supports their personal growth objectives — that’s when you get a lot of passion out of employees and when they can perform their best.”
Everybody Needs to Win
WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING TO FORM PARTNERSHIPS WITH OTHER BUSINESSES, IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO JUST CONSIDER YOUR OWN NEEDS OR EVEN TO LOOK AT THE OTHER COMPANY’S NEEDS TOO. “I like to think of strategic alliances as a win-win-win proposition. What I mean is, the customer base has to win first.” Whatever you create together, the customer has to benefit too, whether it’s some extraordinary product or service they wouldn’t have had otherwise or some added value to an existing product.
“Your partner has to win too,” Chalker adds. “Lastly you yourself have to win; there has to be a value added service for you.
If all three benefits aren’t present, Chalker’s team probably won’t pursue the business relationship.
“If all three parties can’t win, it won’t be as successful,” states Chalker. “In order to see a positive result, all three parties have to have some real stake in the game.”
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