- August 23, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, Management
In talking with other C-level executives, I’ve learned I was rather unusual in the manufacturing world, especially in the great state of Texas.
When it came to our management structure, 60 percent of our managers were women. I always appreciated that, not only because the women I hired were amazingly competent, but they didn’t have the same inflated egos as many of their male counterparts.
I’ve tried not to have an inflated ego, especially when it comes to being the smartest. I’ve learned that not only am I not the smartest person in the room, I don’t want to be. I’ve always said that if I’m the smartest person in the room, I’m in the wrong room.
That was never more true than when I worked with Billie Traywick, who once saved me from consigning a high-six figure enterprise computer system to the scrap heap.
When I first joined Robroy, they had just installed the new system, which was causing some real pain for us. Many of the users were complaining about it, and the outputs were no good. It was a painful experience all around, and no one was happy with its performance.
Eventually, I concluded that it was a bad system, and I was all set to scrap it completely and go back to our old system. But the woman I had hired as our Controller, Billie Traywick, sat me down one day, and said “pay attention!”
Billie convinced me that the problem wasn’t with the system, it was with the lack of user education and lack of process discipline. As it turns out, she was right on the money.
I learned that, despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on this new software system, there were no written procedures for anything, which meant there were no guidelines for people to follow. So they basically did what they thought they should do, based on what they had done with the old system, instead of following a pre-existing procedural structure.
Billie spent the next several months writing procedures and guidelines, and educating our various staff members on how to use the new system. She made them stop following their own procedures and doing their own thing, and required everyone to follow the new official procedures instead.
In the end, everyone got on board, started following the proper procedures, and Billie saved me from making a very costly decision based on a limited amount of information. Her patience and determination, first with me, and then with the rest of the company, saved the system and went a long, long way in making our company more profitable and productive.
Not too long thereafter, I made Billie our VP of Operations, and she ran the company smoothly and helped me launch a lot of my changes and initiatives within the company, which led to a major turnaround and increased profitability for the company.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Versageek (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)