Enough Gabbing... Time to Get Back to Work
Well it certainly has been a roller coaster ride... and it is far from over. InBev, Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors... there has been a lot to talk about in a very short period of time. The pundits has been busy spewing their analysis here and there... but please don't call me a pundit... I work for a living! These posts are just sly attempts to sell you my consulting services. Clever, eh?
As a good GM friend said (and he's a MillerCoors guy), "just think, I used to lose sleep over worrying about sales execution and performance". There is plenty happening right now to lose sleep over. The past few weeks might change what you lose sleep over but in this time of rapid change let us not forget... ultimately the JOB is still about sales execution and performance. This is no time for you or your organization to take your eyes off the ball.
We can all talk all we want about these supplier dances, but ultimately we have no impact on the outcome... they will be what they will be. Don't forget that and don't let your organization forget that.
There is a company, WebSense, which is a competitor to my last technology company, Vericept... and WebSense always produces these somewhat goofy analysis where they calculate the "cost" of wasted work time for various things, like the Sweet 16 in college basketball, or the Super Bowl... $4 Billion in Lost Productivity!!
Their numbers are rather suspect but the general point is valid... the cost of "distractions" can be substantial. As I have noted in my past pieces on time management from a corporate perspective, each and every day you purchase a certain number of minutes from your employees. These minutes can be used to drive your company forward or they can be used to address things which shouldn't have happened in the first place... or they can simply be wasted by idle gossip. Each and every day they click on by, whether you like it or not... and whether you get any value or not.
Now people are social animals and some degree of "shooting the bull" is going to occur... and fighting it is probably both counter productive and a waste of your energy. It is much like that old saying about trying to teach a pig to sing... you'll only frustrate yourself and piss off the pig. Don't bother.
And even though beer wholesaling is still a male dominated industry, regardless of stereotypes I have found men will gossip as much, if not more than women... sorry guys but that's my observation.
Remember that in times of rapid change it is imperative that you actively take control and manage the message. Your employees might need assurance, they might need clarification, they might need a number of things... but they most definitely need communication. If you don't fill the information void, someone else will.
So first ensure your entire organization is well informed on these subjects. Departmental meetings where you can present your message and answer any and all questions. Don't try to sugar coat things... tell your employees the truth. I have found that most people have very good "bullshit" meters and attempting to do so only hurts your credibility... both today and far out into the future. Ensure you answer all of your employee's concerns AND emphasize that the job hasn't changed... you MUST keep the focus on the day-to-day operations and on those things we can control.
Second, make certain that ALL your employees, not just the street folks, understand the message and are prepared to take this message to the street... to retailers, to consumers, to friends, to everyone. You must work to actively control the message in your marketplace. This is true for MillerCoors and A-B. Read that again... develop a specific plan with a handful of talking points which capture the essence of the message you want the street to hear. Don't forget responses to false or misleading statements... think of it as responding to objections in a sales call. Drill these points into your employees... explain to them the importance of controlling the message... rather than just attempting to respond to whatever message finally develops.
These are big changes for the domestic beer industry... a lot of people are talking and paying attention. Take control of the message both within your company and out on the street. You will be glad you made the attempt.