The old business adage, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” does not mean that every company that saw lower profits in the 2009 recession is now writing a succession plan or turning out the lights. Many businesses saw the slowdown as a gift of time – a time for internal growth.
Margie Weiss, our cover subject, found nine companies that turned their attention to internal improvement this past year. The Weiss Health Group works with companies to improve employee wellness, energy efficiency and lean practices with a cohesive approach.
“My goal at the end of the day is to create a healthier community and by helping these companies improve the health of their workers, the health of their environments and the health of their bottom lines, I am doing just that,” Weiss says.
She helped leadership at each participating company to identify ways they wanted to improve, then helped them set goals to measure their progress. They met individually and also monthly, as a group, to learn from each other on their journey toward improvement. Three more companies stepped up to her challenge for this year.
Approaching a goal methodically can obviously contribute toward success. The winners of the first New North People, Progress and Possibilities Award, sponsored by Right Management, were able to prove they not only were doing right by their employees but that their human resources achievements resulted in measurable success, whether by lowering their health care costs, reducing on-the-job injuries or retaining talent. Winners were announced at the New North Summit last month in Green Bay (see page 10).
January always brings a big focus on personal improvement. And when the boss is fit, he or she sets a good example for the rest of the team. This in mind, Western Racquet in Green Bay has partnered with Fitnessology to launch the Executive Edge, a 10-week challenge among leaders in the region to improve their personal health and fitness. Insight Publications is one of the sponsors, and three of us here have signed on to the challenge. Watch for updates in upcoming issues and on our Insight blog.
Also in January, we at Insight are busy coordinating the first InDevelopment Conference, a full day devoted to bringing together the region’s commercial developers and economic development professionals. The day kicks off with speed networking, features Wisconsin Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel as the keynote and a panel discussion on financing in commercial lending. Check out the special insert in this issue for details.
A sign of a good leader is an individual who wants to continually improve. One area that continually challenges leaders is making hard decisions. On Feb. 2, author, commentator and business journalist Suzy Welch (did I say she is also married to Jack Welch?) brings her technique for making decisions to a conference here called BLEND –Building Leadership, Encouraging New Directions (see page 15). When I called Welch to learn more about her technique, which she calls “10-10-10,” she spoke about how to put a decision into perspective in a way that minimizes regrets. Just after I checked out her website (www.thewelchway.com), I put it into practice. What seemed, at the time, as a really hard decision is now something I don’t remember (thus, no regrets!). I’ve been applying her technique ever since.
Many leaders know that good managers have a lot in common with good coaches. That hockey has anything to do with leadership training was a new concept for me, until I spoke with Paul Vidmar of Oshkosh for this month’s Downtime feature on page 54. Vidmar, recently named the No. 1 trainer in the world for Dale Carnegie – for the second time – has coached hockey and now, at 53, plays twice weekly just for the fun of it.
Beyond his favorite Dale Carnegie truisms that relate to the sport, I liked his candor about why he gets out on the ice. It has something to do with “no regrets.” That’s something I’m sure a lot of us will strive for in 2010.