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On management: If you are working you are probably running

Being retired now, I often sit on my front porch on these summer mornings and enjoy my coffee. We live in a cluster of what they call “patio homes,” and the street is often a short hike from the door to a house.

This particular morning it was an especially beautiful Colorado day. I was just watching the world go by (not a lot to watch because nothing much was moving), and the coffee was perfect, when up drives a FedEx truck. The guy jumps out, package in hand and runs about 100 feet up a slight hill to the home he was looking for. He drops the package and runs back to his truck, and quickly moves on.

He really ran. Maybe not his fastest, but he was putting some energy into it. I watched him move on up the street to his next stop and repeat the procedure.

Later the same day, I was sitting in the outer office of the physical therapy place my wife goes to, and the postman comes bounding in with one of those big gray boxes of mail. He, too, acted like he was in a race. It made me think that he and another guy working the next building had a bet for lunch on who could finish faster. He did his thing with the PT mail, and out he dashed.

I might have forgotten the whole thing except later that day I watched the UPS guy move around our office building with the same sense of purpose and wondered idly if these three had some sort of bet on.

So I think that FedEx is a particularly well-run company, and I checked some facts. The stock is down to about 60 from a high of 120. There is a similar situation for UPS, presently around 50 from a high of 80 in 2008. In mid-March, FedEx announced it planned “to cut more jobs, reduce some workers’ hours and cut back on truck and jet capacity.” That came after the company said its third quarter profits fell 75 percent to $97 million, or 31 cents per share.

FedEx CEO Fred Smith said in a statement in December that he would cut his own salary by 20 percent, and other senior executives would take a 7.5 percent to 10 percent salary cut. U.S. salaried employees received a 5 percent cut.

“We try and protect as many jobs as possible and strengthen the company so that we are prepared when the economy will rebound,” he said.

If you worked for this company wouldn’t you run? I’ll bet that everyone in that company “runs.” I give them high grades for their survival plan and expect them to be a powerhouse company for a long time.

So how do you survive in a company that has to downsize to stay in business until business rebounds?

Keep customers you have – No matter your job in the company, realize that you have a part in keeping existing customers and earning new customers. Understand customers are precious and that customer service has never been so important. “Run” for the customer while others just walk.  Do for your customers the things that would make you a happier customer. Not only will you save a customer, you will probably save your job.
Volunteer, help, be involved – Take it on yourself to help everyone be positive and successful. Help your co-workers get positive when they start to get down.  These are the moves of a good manager, which the company will need as business comes back.
Be the most positive person you can be – Everyone feeds off a positive person. Let’s you and I be that person.
Be this kind of person and management will notice. Don’t worry about that.

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Pat Wiesner

Pat Wiesner is the retired CEO of WiesnerMedia, publisher of ColoradoBiz. He still leads sales training for the company. E-mail him at pwiesner@cobizmag.com.

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