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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 6
Issue 9

Back to Basics - All I Learned about Business Advising Teaching Kindergarten

"Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the
sand pile at Sunday School.
" Robert Fulghum

My readers should know that my first career, pre-school teacher, provided a foundation for my current profession – advising solely owned and family business owners on how to grow sustainable and profitable companies. As in the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum, I too, treasure and utilize the basic principals of teaching in coaching clients to achieve their greatest success. Using the basic framework of beginning education is still relevant for the more mature adult.

The back to basics concept is great for both education and business. The foundational elements of learning are behind all the fancy management models and training programs of the day. They are the basis for the creation of all "new" concepts of any worth.

Come on a journey with me back to school. Bring your number two pencils and some yellow lined paper, for old time sake. If you have questions, instead of raising your hand, just shoot me an e-mail.

Important lessons learned from teaching kindergarten and how they apply to you:

  • Communicate clearly. If you give directions, be very clear as to what you expect. Otherwise, you will be disappointed. Check to make sure people understand what you need. Generally we want to do a good job and please others. Plus remember, communication is two thirds listening and one third talking.
  • Make it simple. Everyone gets overwhelmed with complex projects and huge responsibilities. Help yourself and others to break up large undertakings into manageable steps. Then develop a process timeline to reach the goals. It works!
  • Have patience. Everyone learns differently, has unique motivations, personalities and styles. We are often less patient with those who are different from ourselves. The most effective and sustainable businesses are filled with diverse people working together rather than numbers of Mini-Me types mimicking the boss.
  • Play nice. When all these diverse people work together under the same roof, conflict is sure to arise. Be prepared with ground rules for common issues. Confront conflict. Even though you may want it to disappear, it will only escalate in time. It is your responsibility to facilitate a resolution.
  • Compensate for shortcomings. I learned while working with special needs students, you cannot reconstruct every learning problem. However, you can help compensate for the weaknesses. In business you can do the same. You can't fix a down economy but you can take steps to adjust for it. You cannot undo a missed vendor deadline, but you can make accommodations to keep your customer satisfied.

This lesson has a happy ending. Businesses can be more successful by getting back to basics. Now we are taller, wiser and more sophisticated, but we still have the same basic needs we had when we were younger. We need to be heard, feel valued and recognized. It's human nature. Keep that in mind when dealing with the people in and around your business. Class is dismissed.

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