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Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?

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Mark RaudonisYour employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 8, 2009 at 9:34:31 pm

This continues the thread below (impact of the economy on business) which seemed to take a turn in the direction of "why are some employees so unmotivated to go above and beyond the call of duty".

I find it interesting that the business owners participating in this discussion almost all universally lament the fact that "most employees can't or won't rise above average". I've certainly observed this phenomena through out my career, regardless of the size of operation or geographic location. Some people are rock stars and some people are sheep. I think that's human nature.

I've been in the business since 1978. While the technology certainly has changed, human nature has not. I knew back then who the "serious" people were, and guess what, they have all had successful careers. People who were unfocused, undecided, or unable faded away. This current economic crisis will "cull the herd" and clear out anyone not impossibly passionate about the industry. I acknowledge that this downturn is much harsher than most, and some "serious" people will get burned... through no fault of their own.

So, the question becomes, "how do you create a rock star? And how many sheep can you afford/need to keep around?

mark





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Todd TerryRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 8, 2009 at 10:12:15 pm

I don't think you can "create" a rock star employee... but you can find ones that already have the talent and predisposition and cultivate them by giving them challenging and creative work, letting be an active participant in the success of your business, always giving credit where credit is due... and compensating them accordingly.

How many sheep can you keep? Depends on the size of the business, but in whatever case I would say "not many."

I'm very blessed in our situation now. Our tiny company (there's only five of us), has pretty much a 100% rock star population. Every person is the very best in their area of expertise that we could find/afford, and always goes above and beyond the call. I freely and fully give them credit for everything we do. We try to give them fun jobs, and a cool and interesting place to come to work at.

Work is work, but we still try to make it fun and interesting. I think that is especially important when you are working with creative types. It's not every week, but it's not unheard of that I'll say "Anyone have any hard deadlines today? No? Great, saddle up, we're going bowling" (last time I scored a "Gentleman's 90"). Or sailing. Or hit a movie in the middle of the day. Or just all go to lunch on the boss. Or mini golf. I've said it before, but for grown creative-type adults to spend a couple or hours hitting a hot pink golf ball through a miniature windmill can be very creatively liberating.

I frequently give the "couldn't do it without you" speech, and I mean it. And I put my money where my mouth is... they are all financially compensated more than the industry norms for our particular market (a couple a lot more). But they are all worth every penny.

That being said, I've seen plenty of the opposite. Before I started this little company, I had plenty of bosses at much bigger places that were almost entirely populated by those "sheep"... maybe one "rock star" per herd. Sadly, I don't think there's much you can do to turn a sheep into a star... best you can do is ditch the sheep and find a batch of stars to start with.

Easier said than done, I know...


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Chris BlairRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 9, 2009 at 2:27:13 am

Todd Terry
Sadly, I don't think there's much you can do to turn a sheep into a star... best you can do is ditch the sheep and find a batch of stars to start with.

In addition to not being able to turn a sheep into a star, from our experience, you cannot even get them to significantly improve their skills, despite being given every opportunity to do so. I'm constantly giving employees tips on how to improve both on shoots and in the edit suite, and the "sheep" as they've been dubbed, don't even follow that advice. So I'm not sure we've had sheep working for us over the years! At least sheep can follow!!

And most were definitely NOT team players. What I mean is they all wanted to work in a bubble, with no help or suggestions from others. They never asked for feedback on their work (until it was completely done), and when we did review the work at various stages (which we eventually demanded on projects)they ALWAYS viewed these sessions as personal attacks on either the work itself or their skills. As a result, their enthusiasm for the project waned, and from then on they'd just "follow the recipe" so to speak... doing whatever everyone else wanted, with no creative interpretation of their own.

I should point out that our review sessions typically involve people pointing out things they like and dislike....then everyone giving ideas on how to improve the work along with reasons why it might improve it. They're very positive sessions and are not negative in any way.

These sessions actually inspire me to work even harder to come up with new ideas, while still incorporating the group's advice. The work ALWAYS improves as a result.

We also provide a very comfortable, laid back work environment in a great facility, pay reasonably well, give lots of time off, and give employees every tool you could ever want to do good work. Plus, we're extremely fair and even-tempered. As one very good employee says, we're "nice guys" to work for.

The thing we can't figure out is that many of the "sheep" we've hired over the years had fabulous portfolios and sample reels. They seemed eager and positive. But once on staff the bulk of the work they produce is decidely sub-par...not only compared to their reels, but compared to minimal professional standards.

All we can figure is that a LOT of people in this business oversell their skills and show samples on their reels that either are not their own, or that they had little to do with in terms of creating them.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Brendan CootsRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 9, 2009 at 6:00:48 am

I don't think you can do ANYTHING to convert underachievers into motivated, hard working people. You either have it or you don't. My business partner pointed out the other day that maybe 10% of the population falls within that "upper tier" if that's an appropriate way of putting it. The rest are hopelessly mired in the joe-job mentality with no desire to be an actual craftsman/woman who takes pride in delivering quality.

Unfortunately this economy will swallow the under-performers, and many will move on to menial labor or service industry jobs. The hard working folks that really pay attention will stick around to propel the industry forward. That's life.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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cowcowcowcowcow
Mark SuszkoRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 9, 2009 at 4:48:16 pm

Based on empirical evidence in my life I think the 80-20 rule applies to any "voluntary" group endeavor: 20 percent of the people in the organization get 80 percent of the work done, 80 percent of the donations contributed, etc. if you're talking a club or a church congregation or even perhaps a business. This may just be something hardwired into humanity. Putting people on salary with targets to hit in exchange for pay overrides this natural proclivity to some extent, by making it less than voluntary, but not in any deeper way.
And if your organization has a lot of rote work in it like data entry or filing, "sheep" may not be the worst thing. For those types of positions. But a lot of what we do calls for a different archtype personality, we tend to attract a lot of type A personalites in our business; motivated, creative people who seek expression thru their excellence.

Do you *make* people into this? I'm not sure. I think you create conditions attractive to those types and they self-select to be there, and the ones that can't cut it self-select out. Not everybody likes to have intense responsibility every day, and some folks like the certainty of a more restricted sphere of operation, where they don't have to be exposed to risk or ambiguity. There's room in the world for both types, but they are never happy if put in each otehr's roles.

So I think the kind of people you want, in part, must depend on what kind of manager you are and what kind of culture or environment you set up. And that has to go beyond putting the mission statement on paper. Like Todd here shows, you have to live it, the workers take their cues from what actually happens, from examples they see management doing, rather than what's in some pretty handbook.

Its no picnic for the manager to have a whole stable of "Rock Stars" either: they tend to be a little mercurial, temperamental, competitive. To keep them feeling happy and self-actualized, you have to give them authority to match their responsibility, authority that comes out of your pocket, and this means they will at times make a manager nervous or upset, making decisions that bug the manager... but if you hold your grip too tight, you kill off that whole "team of creative spirits" culture you're trying to develop. And it takes time to grow that trust back again if you suddenly cut it back. This is not a fun way to work for managers that are control freaks themselves, because it involves a level of trust and risk, like trapeze artists, that the guy will be there to make the catch at the right time.

If you want to feel really helpless, put yourself in charge of a large group:-)


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Patrick OrtmanRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 9, 2009 at 7:00:33 pm

I agree on the "if you ever want to feel helpless, put yourself in charge of a large group" for sure!

I have a friend who works at larger post houses and prodcos in town, and a lot of them seem paralyzed right now. Too many sheep = not enough innovation and agility. I think that's why a lot of them are having to cut so many jobs.

Here, even one cut would be extremely difficult for our business. Then again, like Fantastic Plastic, we're all rockstars here. We're lucky, comparatively, in times like these.

But in a different economic climate, we'd be punished unless we had enough sheep to augment and support our stars. I've had clients visit who looked around and immediately told me we're "not a good fit" because we only have 4 people here. Nevermind that we routinely do the work that other firms need 10 people or more to do.

I'm also not really onboard with the "sheep = losers" point of view. Not to say there aren't a lot of losers among the sheep category. They're different, and they need to be treated in ways that make sense for them. Throw a rockstar into a world of sheep and you have a real problem. Same with throwing sheep at rockstar situations.

Geez, I'm starting to sound like something from "All Creatures Great and Small"... yikes. Back to work for me!




---------------------
http://www.patrickortman.com
Web and Video Design


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Brendan CootsRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 9, 2009 at 7:33:13 pm

I don't think anyone is saying sheep = losers, but I do feel that there is very little room for the sheep mentality in this industry.

You could argue that if you need some paperwork or other basic things done that personality type works out okay, but good luck filling a Type-B person's day with micro-tasks and still getting anything done yourself. You have to look at the dramatically higher time demands these types of people place on your more costly (and busy) management folks when they behave like robots in need of constant programming. The lower output, higher resource consumption and negative impact on company culture make this personality type a pretty shaky bet for ANY role in my opinion.

I am primarily concerned about this attitude within the ranks of artists, creatives, producers and other production-oriented roles because it seems to be more and more prevalent these days. Even junior artists need to be disciplined, committed and somewhat self-directed. Unfortunately, the current younger generation coming into the industry seems to be 95% composed of this type - "the entitlement generation."

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Patrick OrtmanRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 9, 2009 at 7:39:23 pm

Well, yes. I have to agree about how Type Bs can be a drain on a manager's time. And I'd never, ever hire a Type B for any creative task.

You know, I kind of like the term Type B a lot more than sheep... for some odd reason, when I see a sheep I want to throw it.

(that's my obligatory Facebook nod)



---------------------
http://www.patrickortman.com
Web and Video Design


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Ron LindeboomRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 9, 2009 at 7:59:16 pm

[Chris Blair] "In addition to not being able to turn a sheep into a star, from our experience, you cannot even get them to significantly improve their skills, despite being given every opportunity to do so."

Boy, do I ever have to agree with that one!

We had one guy who worked for us for years. No matter what we did, no matter what raises we gave him, no matter how many seminars and conferences we paid to send him to and increase his skills -- he came back and did the same thing he was doing before. I tried everything to motivate him: I tried the positive reinforcement tact; I tried the set goals and give him milestones and targets trick; I tried the spiffs and perks trick; I tried the get heavy and put his job on the line trick -- and NONE of it worked.

YOU CANNOT MAKE A SHEEP A ROCKSTAR. PERIOD.

The old saying is that "Do not try to teach pigs to fly. It is counter-productive and, besides, it annoys the hell out of you and the pig." True.

On the other hand, when you find a rockstar, give them the kind of feedback and compensation befitting someone of their caliber.

Yes, creative types are hard to work with and they have big egos -- but at least you do not have to stick a mirror under their nose to see if they are still breathing.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.


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Mike CohenRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 9, 2009 at 8:49:41 pm

Years ago we had a guy who was half sheep - half rock star. Insert American Idol joke here.

He was routinely late for work, he missed flights, occasionally slept at his desk; but on shoots he was great, clients liked him and he did a pretty good job at shooting and editing. Over time his quality improved, but his efficiency never did.

For 2 years we tried to reform him, allowed him to change his working hours to better coincide with his sleeping habits, but every time he showed signs of improvement, he slacked off again. I don't know if he was intentionally taking advantage of his situation, or if he was oblivious. Whatever the case, eventually we had to give him written warnings and ultimatums. Finally he had to go.

It happens.

The experience taught me a lot about personnel management, HR issues and made me work extra hard to find a good replacement. You sometimes do not know how a new hire will work out until years later, but you try your best to get the right person for the job.

Mike Cohen


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Mark SuszkoRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 9, 2009 at 10:09:23 pm

I've seen that "entitlement mentality" you mentioned. I think a lot of it comes from a shallow education, an ignorance of what came before. As you age, you get to see both sides of it, one man's "entitlement attitude" is another's "self-directed ambition".

When I was the new kid in a shop full of guys a third older than me, or older, I was the one they looked askance at and viewed with suspiction and sometimes befuddlement ("$%#^ college boys and their book-learnin") I had an uphill effort for some time, bucking their inertia: "that's how we've always done it" and "Why do you want to change everything" and "We got along fine without (whatever) until you showed up". I had to work at acceptance by recognizing their skills and making them see that I still valued learning what they could teach me, by dropping common references that showed I knew something about TV from before my own birth, and eventually, we both learned from each other and we all became a solid team of equals.

Now I am the old timer in the shop, and I occasionally deal with young interns, high school and college age and a few postgrads here and there. Some were totally insufferable with their poor work ethic, seemed to revel in it... others reminded me of my go-getter years. At one point I had one of each: I called them "Goofus and Gallant". Yeah, from the "Highlights for Children" magazine in your dentists' office. Goofus spent every spare minute texting or playing Tetris on his phone and killing time. "Gallant" spent his free time Reading Goethe and Proust or learning Photoshop on our computers and dabbling in 3-d animation, editing, and shooting. Goofus, last I saw him, coaches 6th grade boy's basketball (His team beat up my kids' team pretty bad). Gallant got a Fullbright, studied and taught in Germany and Japan and is now a teacher in Chicago somewhere.

Usually the older the intern, the worse they were in that respect, like they'd learned everything there is to know already, and that paying your dues was for chumps. We had one that only wanted to direct, never wanted to carry gear, shoot, file tapes in the library, etc. We had one postgrad come in and quit after one day because the job wasn't all glamor and excitement, (I guess the tape library IS pretty skeevy, gottta fix that some day, OTOH, it makes a good filter for the uncommitted).

Twenty-plus years of this biz has taught me I am still just beginning to figure out a chunk of it, never mind the whole thing.

So yes, I'm more sensitive now to the "arrogance"/bravado of youth. But young people have a great value in that they force us to keep re-asking questions about things we take for granted, about the way to do and think about things. Sometimes we just get a little smarter ourselves by teaching someone else what we learned. Other times, we re-examine the thing in question and find that indeed, things have changed and some old rules don't apply quite the same way, we can make a change and improve something. Youth with a challenging, questioning attitude is healthy.


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Ron LindeboomRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 9, 2009 at 11:03:02 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Youth with a challenging, questioning attitude is healthy."

You have just described Abraham to perfection. But add in "respect" and that is where the real drive and ambition avoids slipping into being obnoxious. Abraham pushes into areas where we follow his lead and he has brought fresh vision and enthusiasm to our graying team. We feed him many ideas that he works on but he has also brought many ideas of his own, from his pre-graying cranium.

Ron Lindeboom


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Chris BlairRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 10, 2009 at 2:44:20 am

[Ron Lindeboom]We had one guy who worked for us for years...... no matter how many seminars and conferences we paid to send him to -- he came back and did the same thing he was doing before

Man..I'm glad to see I'm not the only business owner on here that struggles with this! We've experienced the EXACT same thing on several occasions! My partner and I had gotten to the point of being convinced it was us!

But then we'll get an employee that positively shines and blossoms working for us...and lets us know how appreciative he is of the training and mentoring he is getting!

And I agree that we're not saying the "sheep" analogy suggests these people are losers. There are times when you need these types, like when you have to do 300 DVD emergency DVD copies for a client and don't have time to send it out to a duplication house!

But overall, I'd rather have employees who realize what a fun, cool job this is, and bring that attitude to every project.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Scott DavisRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 10, 2009 at 1:20:51 am

My god, I did not know bosses like you existed. Finding talent and cultivating is a very rare talent.

Scott Davis
View Scott Davis's profile on LinkedIn



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Ron LindeboomRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 10, 2009 at 1:55:13 am

[Scott Davis] "Finding talent and cultivating is a very rare talent."

Finding talent is easy. Cultivating it is not all that hard either. It's the keeping it part that is difficult.

Why?

Most very talented people, once trained, will leave and start their own businesses. Many will even cannibalize their former employer's client base. But as many have learned to their own undoing, it's easier to start a business than to keep one solvent.

I jokingly refer to ILM as both the Big Leagues and the Farm Team System of the visual effects industry. They have trained more companies that now compete with them than any single company in any industry that I can think of. But most don't last and it's a talent in itself to build a successful business. Creative talent in the crafts is not enough.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.


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Steve WargoRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 10, 2009 at 7:18:24 am

Oh Ron, you are so right on the money. Being a fantastic graphics artist and being an entrepreneur are two distinct occupations and talents. And, when we tell them that they will spend 60% of their time doing things that they don't get paid for, they don't belive us. Fortunately, most of them go out of business after being called in by the IRS about the taxes that never got filed. (Been there. Paid for that)

And, it's shocking how many people think that just because they are extremely talented, that people will line up at their door when they hang their shingle. If our clients shop us around or go try someone else out, we fire them. While this policy has cost us a few bucks, I don't go through life feeling like a whore. (Can I say that?)

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .


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John DavidsonRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 11, 2009 at 12:54:34 am

I bet every single person that read this post at one point or another considered him/herself a rock star when others didn't. The real question might be, how to you recognize a rock star in a sea of sheep.

9 times out of 10, it's probably the guy making comments that piss most people off, including the boss.

Sheep hate rock stars because they make them look inept. So perhaps the better question is, how do you identify the rock stars you already have, and how do you manage them in ways that keep the sheep from burying them in bureaucracy (which is the ultimate weapon of sheep).

I've been to a dozen networks and what I've seen time and time again is the operations people (aka sheep) are the backbone of the company, but the rock stars (aka genuine creatives) are the ones that get the glory. This leaves the operations people resentful. They are the ones that handle the grids, excel sheets, accounting, and all the background processes that are absolutely necessary to keep things running.

The most effective system I've seen consists of someone creative at the top, and they rule with an iron fist. 90% of scripts have to get kicked back. 90% of cuts have to be criticized and sent for revisions. 90% of work can not be good enough. The result? The operations people see the creatives suffer (it's a good suffering though) and back off. Suddenly they're thrilled they're NOT the ones doing the creative. When a genuine rock star comes along and gets things through on the first pass, the sheep flock to them because this person solves the creative problem. Other creatives try to emulate that person with some success. Other rock stars come through. And for a while, the sheep and rock stars live together in harmony.

How to you find rock stars? That's the million dollar question. It's almost always the person you don't expect. How many people didn't recognize you for your skills early on? Most of the time, the real rock stars aren't the ones with the cool jeans, the great hair, and an award winning smile. It's the nerd in the back room playing with a new plugin or watching old films for ideas. That's the one I want, anyway.




John
Magic Feather Inc.


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David Roth WeissRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 11, 2009 at 1:37:43 am

[John Davidson] "Sheep hate rock stars because they make them look inept."

I'll bet there are lots of potential rock stars being falsely labeled as sheep, and here's what they are saying about the places they're working...




David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Chris BlairRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 11, 2009 at 2:47:50 am

John DavidsoneSo perhaps the better question is, how do you identify the rock stars you already have, and how do you manage them in ways that keep the sheep from burying them in bureaucracy (which is the ultimate weapon of sheep).

You must be herding with a different staff than me because I've never seen the so-called "sheep" become any kind of "star," much less a rock star!

Unless of course you're talking about Moses! He's the last one I saw make the transition.

Virtually all business owners and high achievers I know were always top performers in almost every endeavor they undertook, from work to hobbies to social groups to church committees to sports. These people include friends from high school and college, former colleagues, and even some relatives. I cannot think of a single person I've ever known that achieved any level "success" (in all it's many definitions) who fit the work ethic that most people have described as a "sheep" in this thread.

From the very first job I had, to the last job I held before starting my own company, co-workers used to call me the "hardest working man in the company." I never intiated this title, but it follwed me literally to every job I ever worked, which includes 8 different companies between the ages of 16 and 35.

The business owners and top performers that I know all share common traits that the people we've described as sheep do not. They include a willingness to take chances, or maybe better described as a willingness to fail; they're unbelievably positive, yet almost always pragmatic; they're incredible problem solvers, refusing to quit until an issue is resolved; they're self-motivated to the point of not needing to be given quotas or lists or goals; they're innovators, almost always asking "why do we do it this way?"...and "is there a better way?"

I could go on and on. But these traits DO NOT describe the folks we're talking about in this thread. These are NOT traits that people typically learn. Can they? Sure...but in my experience, people that lack these traits rarely do.

The person who's pissed off complaining about the boss is usually....well...just that...a pissed off person complaining about the boss. If he or she was motivated, they'd be complaining but backing up those complaints with better solutions. And not only offering those solutions, but coming in on nights and weekends implementing them without prodding, without fanfare.

So John, while I still hold out faint hope that you might be right. 25 years of experience in this business, and 13 as a facility owner tell me otherwise.

I've even seen people that have loads of potential and talent that simply don't have the commitment and desire needed to rise above the mediocre. They just don't want to work that hard and don't enjoy the difficult process that accompanies learning new skills. Like Ron said in an earlier post, you can send them to seminars, give them encouragement, challenge them etc. And none of it works. Maybe in larger orgainizations there are those few gems in the sand, but in smaller companies like most of ours, the consensus is: it rarely happens.


Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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John DavidsonRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 11, 2009 at 3:11:28 am

I think my definition of sheep is a little different from the thread's I'm thinking more along the lines of folks who play it safe and don't stick their necks out too far. Not the brightest bulbs, but not so dim they have to be replaced. The typical average employee.

When I say the guy pissing people off, I'm thinking more along the lines a guy that tells the truth and makes hard decisions vs. somebody who goes with the flow and continues bad ideas. After 25 years, I'm sure you're aware that most folks are not fond of change. Rockstars are brilliant, and brilliance can bring lots of change in the life of an average employee. So by that logic Rock Stars are not always beloved by the average employee.

Bad eggs can't be allowed to stick around. That's certainly not what I'm saying at all.



John
Magic Feather Inc.


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Chris BlairRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 11, 2009 at 4:27:27 pm

Then I sort of agree with you!

And yes...people dislike anything that upsets their normal routine. I used to be a big reader of business books, and while most are bull, there were a few that preached innovation is the secret to longevity in business.

The basic theory is you can be successful by doing something well and by giving great customer service in the short-term (say 10-15 years), but at some point, an innovative competitor is going to offer your customers a "better way," or...what is perceived to be a better way. Your customers will flock to the new way if you don't keep pace.

Anybody remember Service Merchandise? A friend of mine was a manager there for years in 1980s to late 1990s. He continually tried to get their upper management to realize their business model, which pre-dated the internet and a lot of the Big Box stores, was outdated. In fact, they were considered one of the "big-box" stores of their day, usually anchoring high-end strip malls.

Their showroom had one display item of each product on the floor. If you wanted to buy it, you filled out a ticket and your product was retrieved from the warehouse. If it wasn't in-stock at the warehouse, their computer system found the closest store and automatically scheduled a shipment to the local store for pick-up at a certain date. It was very innovative and advanced in it's day.

It saved people money because they strictly controlled inventory and had virtually no "loss" in terms of theft or damage. Customers liked it because they could receive merchandise quickly even if it wasn't in-stock by way of this innovative computer inventory system.

Well...in the 90s, that innovative computer system hadn't been updated in over a decade, it constantly broke down, and Wal-Mart and Best-Buy and jewelry chains sold the same merchandise at lower prices, stocked and ready for immediate purchase right on the showroom floor. Not to mention the rise of internet superstores that undercut prices and could drop-ship merchandise from the manufacturer to your home. Service Merchandise even initially resisted selling online because it didn't fit their "business model."

My friend preached and preached they had to change, but their upper management would not listen...even when he showed them elaborate pricing comparisons from Wal-mart, Best-Buy, jewelry outlets, Office Depot etc. that showed their prices were actually higher, not lower than their competitors. Well...you know what happened to Service Merchandise. They went belly-up.

Circuit City had a similar business model (with the whole take a ticket to the counter and the warehouse will retrieve your merchandise idea). They were equally slow to change and by the time they did, it was too late and they never caught back up to Best-Buy.

Changing how you do something is hard, and most people don't like to complicate their lives. People like the comfort of knowing what to expect and being confident in the outcome.

So convincing that low-wattage "bulb" to brighten into a shining star is not an easy thing to do...especially if they're older than say 30 and are comfortable with their situation in life.



Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Steve KownackiRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 12, 2009 at 1:36:09 am

Just want to say thanks to everyone on this thread! In my opinion, this has been one of the most brilliant discussions ever.

Now I must go put on my t-shirt: Here I am. Now what are your other 2 wishes?

Steve



Jump to the FFP Website



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Mark RaudonisRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 12, 2009 at 3:28:25 am

[Steve Kownacki] "this has been one of the most brilliant discussions ever. "

I guess that means it qualifies for the "Thread of fame!" :)

Mark



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Bob ZelinRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 12, 2009 at 4:11:03 am

well, I will be contrary (what a surprise) just to piss off Mark (what a surprise).

Mark's company likes sheep. Mark's company doesn't want to pay for rock stars. They want people who will show up to work (sheep do this), and sit there and digitize tapes. And for a little more money, they become "junior editors" and edit the shows. Mark's company can't afford LOTS of rock stars - oh - they would love rock stars but they don't want to pay for 20 rock stars ! They can only afford 3 rock stars, and these 3 people are the ones that take the countless hours of garbage, and the messes created by the "junior rock stars", and turn them into the shows that are actually on TV. I see this model at our little reality show farm here in Florida. It's the same model. There is no money for 20 rock stars - so stop your whining. You ain't getting 20 rock stars in LA, and expect to pay them $40,000 a year. You know exactly what rock stars make.
You will pay for 3, but you won't pay for 20. And you are lucky if you have 3 more "junior rock stars" that have all the ambition - but they will probably move on - unless you pay them to stay.

bob Zelin




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Samuel DragonRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 12, 2009 at 8:57:38 pm

Just giving a personal input, feeling I don't exactly fit (or not yet) the type A person nor do I fit the type B (although some traits makes me think I might)... I'd guess I'm probably A negative (or AB+?)

When I entered the business about four years ago, I was definitely a type B, happy to settle in a job that required technical knowledge and a good grasp of my tools, but wouldn't require more thinking on my part.

A few months after I joined that company, I referred my good friend to my boss for a job as a junior editor. He had been my roomate through college, but never really seen each other working.

For the first few months none of us made sparkles, although after a year, he got a job on a major gig and for the time he was working freelance, people at the company finally realized his worth. The boss went back to me to feel when his other contract was finishing to grab the oportunity of rehiring him ASAP. The guy isn't the loudest chap in the place, nor is he the drama queen some have described as what is a RockStar. But I'd guess he is.

At that time, I was still full Type B persona. I never trully realized how knowledgeable he got. Quickly after those events, I grew unhappy with the type of work I was doing. I asked for a position as a junior editor, it took the company 4 or 5 months before processing my request.

When they finally changed me, I truly bloomed, learning quickly, applying knowledge acquired in my previous job to find solutions to problems we've encountered. I didn't become a Rock Star, but I feel I'm on the path. My technical knowledge is now well above most junior editor I know.

My attitude toward work was changed by one main factor; Inspiration. I was inspired by a few people, my friend being one of them. He's hardworking, always seeking knowledge and knows how to shut it (Still have a problem on that...) So I think having inspirational characters in your company will help bloom mini-rockstars, along with just plainly motivating people into making quality products.



The point of all this was pretty much to remind that we have a tendency to over generalize and I'd guess that alot of your Type B workers could be pushed into the type A or at least Type A negative if you'd shift them to another job or find ways to inspire them. Too often have I seen employers complaining about employees without using the right incentive to motivate them. It's just the same for employees... Too often, unhappy employees will whine without ever asking for a change of responsibilities. Just don't tag em as B's without trying. And I'm a strong believer that someone that never increase and gives substandard performance is just dead weight.

Sorry, tried to be concise but failed miserably ;)


Samuel Dragon
Junior Editor and Freelancer


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Mark RaudonisRe: Your employees: Rock stars or sheep?
by on Mar 13, 2009 at 4:20:12 am


[Bob Zelin] "Mark's company likes sheep. Mark's company doesn't want to pay for rock stars."

Bob,

First of all, it's not "my" company. Secondly, you've got to work much harder to piss me off.
Thirdly, you've got your facts wrong. We have plenty of "rock stars" on our editorial team, and they are compensated accordingly. I have no interest in herding sheep. I'd much rather spend the day with "The Rolling Stones" than "Spinal Tap".

Mark



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