Right now, nobody seems to be happy with President Obama’s proposed health care program. The doctors don’t like it because it stresses cost containment which would interfere with their individual prerogative to practice medicine the way they feel it should be practiced and it would also make it that much more difficult for them to get rich while practicing medicine. The pharmaceutical companies don’t like it because it means less profit for them. It’s the same with the hospitals. The tax payers don’t like it, because it’s going to cost them a bundle. There is, however a way to fund this expensive program that will make everyone happy-fund it with the profits from government run companies. The federal government already owns controlling interest in GM and Chrysler. Why not funnel all the profits from these two companies into the President’s health care program. The government should also get back into the banking business and funnel those profits into the health care program. It should then buy large amounts of stock in companies like Microsoft, Nordstrom, Cisco Systems, Starbuck’s, Wegmans Food Markets and funnel those profits into the President’s health care program. Pretty soon, you have enough non-tax payer money to fund a first class health care program that would make everyone happy. Citizens would have complete access to the best health care in the world; doctors would continue to maintain their independence and would be able to pursue their dreams of accumulating vast amounts of wealth. The pharmaceutical companies would continue to make money hand over fist as would the hospitals. And, all this would happen at no cost to the tax payer! What’s there not to get here?
Not all that long ago, there was a distinct line of separation between the government and the private sector-like the line of separation between church and state. Given the recent fiascos in the banking and auto industry, it’s beginning to look like that line has been permanently blurred. Today, various members of the House and Senate have seen fit to meddle in the operations of GM and Chrysler by playing the role of senior executive for these firms and telling them how to run their businesses. What’s more, these government officials are thoroughly enjoying this new role. For example, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico is lobbying the auto companies to restore the 12 GM dealers and six Chrysler dealers in his state that had their franchises terminated. Representative Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has lobbied GM to keep a parts distribution center, which employs 90 people, open in his district. Representative Frank M. Kratovil, a Maryland Democrat, has introduced a bill that would restore the franchise agreements to dealers who have them terminated. Other members of Congress are debating whether or not they should regulate executive pay in all industries, not just those receiving government financial aid. The list goes on and on, “…don’t close the assembly plant in my district; don’t build the Volt battery in Korea, build it in my state or don’t build pickups and SUV’s, make smaller, more fuel efficient cars.”
Where does all this stop? It doesn’t. When a group of people, who are in power positions, gets off on meddling in the internal affairs of major corporations, this usually leads to more meddling, not less. So, look out McDonald’s, Congress may soon dictate where you can locate your next franchise. As for the Big Mac with all those fat calories, it’s either history or it will carry a large “sin tax” and sell for $19.95 each. The Quarter-Pounder will probably be taken off the menu and replaced with something nutritious like McChard Pie and the compensation of your executives will be determined by your shareholders. A rosy scenario, don’t you think?
Doing the right thing makes you look good and it energizes those around. Often we are faced with situations where we ask ourselves, “Should I do the right thing or take the easy way out?” I was on a Hertz Rental Car bus not long ago at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. A pregnant woman traveling with three kids and five suitcases was getting off the bus at the United Airlines terminal. All the driver was required to do was to help the woman and her children off the bus and put her bags on the curb (the easy way out). Instead, he carried her bags to the entrance of the terminal, loaded them onto a Smartcarte and then turned the cart over to the woman (the right thing). When he returned to the bus, he was greeted with cheers and a thunderous ovation. The energy level on the bus for the rest of the ride was unbelievable as everyone was blown away by the driver’s actions. The next time you are tempted to take the easy way out, keep in mind that people are watching. So, do the right thing and blow them away–you’ll be glad you did!
I can remember when it was considered un-American to drive a foreign automobile. Today, it’s the other way around. Many car buyers in their 20s and 30s won’t even consider buying an American car. In addition, many of the car buyers in their 40s, 50s and 60s, who used to buy American cars, have come around to that same mind set. I was on a radio talk show last week and I was somewhat amazed when caller after caller adamantly stated that they would never buy another American car. When I asked why, I got some of the following answers: “I’ve got 240,000 miles on my Honda and it still runs great!” “The only time I take my Toyota to the dealership is for regularly scheduled servicing, when I owned my last Chevy it seemed like I was there every other week for repairs!”
As far as most Americans are concerned, American cars break down more often and don’t last as long as Japanese cars and the data from surveys bears this out. According to Susan Helper, an economist from Case Western Reserve University, this is why Detroit’s cars, even though they are consistently priced $2,000 to $3,000 below their Japanese equivalents, continue to lose market share. This is a serious problem that the Detroit automakers must deal with if they expect to have any chance at all for long term survival and it starts with making Consumer Reports a top priority. www.rossreck.com
Do you have a department, team or sales force where the employees are demoralized because of today’s bad economy or where they routinely underachieve, fail to take initiative or refuse to work together as a team? As a boss, would you like to turn your situation around immediately-as in overnight? Well, you can, if you’re willing to do the following four things sincerely, consistently and well:
- Be Real. Be yourself and let the real you shine through. There’s no room for arrogance if you expect to bring out the best in people. When you’re real-open, honest, approachable, humble, respectful and caring-people will respect you, work hard for you and see to it that you are an incredibly successful boss.
- Be Appreciative. One of the strongest needs of our human existence is the need to be appreciated-people crave appreciation almost as much as they crave food. So, if you as a boss make it a point to sincerely thank your employees for the things they’ve done on your behalf, they’ll make it point to give you their best efforts. The lesson here is that you can’t say “thank you” too often.
- Be Interested. This is all about treating people like they really are your most important resource-after all; it’s their level of effort that determines your success. You do this by getting out of your office and getting involved with your employees-get to know them and let them get to know you, ask their opinion on things and listen to what they have to say and take appropriate action when necessary.
- Be Nice. Being nice is about smiling and saying or doing something that brightens the day of each person you come into contact with. A study recently reported in the Harvard Business Review found that being nice-making those around you feel good about themselves-is more important to your success as a boss than how competent you are.
The lesson here is that if you treat your people well-treat them with respect and show them you care-they’ll return the favor by making you look like a genius as their boss.
Yesterday, President Obama said that the beginning of the new General Motors would take “a painful toll on many Americans.” The question is, which Americans? The politicians and bureaucrats in Washington aren’t feeling any pain. The last I checked, they were all still getting paid. The senior executives running General Motors, many of whom helped get us in this mess in the first place, still have jobs. The people who are going to suffer are the 21,000 auto workers who are going to lose their jobs this next year and 2,100 dealers who are being let go from General Motors and their employees—these are the people who are stressing out, will soon be unable to pay their bills and who will be facing foreclosure on their homes. And let’s not forget the American tax payers who are going to have to foot the bill for all of these shenanigans.
There’s something very un-American about this picture. The people who are going to do all the suffering didn’t create the mess and they’ve have had no say in what’s going to happen—they’re victims of decades of bad decisions made by senior management—the people who still have jobs. Americans don’t mind sacrificing as long as it leads to something. However, if you take a close look at the rhetoric, it quickly becomes apparent that the success of the new GM is anything but a done deal. President Obama said yesterday that the painful restructuring “…will give the iconic American company a chance to rise again.” All this suffering and, in the president’s own words, GM only has a “chance” to rise again. Fritz Henderson, the GM president and CEO referred to yesterday’s bankruptcy as a “defining moment” in remaking the company. He actually sounded a little too upbeat, like he was still trying to convince himself that the new GM had a future. Again, something’s not right here and all the wrong people are suffering and paying the price.