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Carl Gerhardt

Business Sense & Sensibility

By Carl Gerhardt

About Carl

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

 

Be a One Minute Coach: Fix Behavior the Way You Want It to Be

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Giving honest feedback is often a failing of managers. Company culture can go adrift if the owner/manager does not proactively reinforce the behavior that supports the company culture. This goes for criticism, as well as compliments. Fixing or changing the behavior of subordinates or even peers is tough for managers. Using quick coaching techniques can go a long way to change or reinforce behavior.

"The One Minute Manager," by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, is one of my favorite business books. It’s a short read and gives useful advice on coaching. Few managers and small business owners really practice the concepts in this excellent and practical business sense book. Here are a couple of ways we should apply them:

  • When we see behavior that is unacceptable, deal with it immediately. For example, if a manager frequently brags about their past career success, have a private meeting and explain how this is having a negative effect rather than a positive one. Follow this by complimenting them on their successful career but how they must use some discretion.
  • When we see behavior that is a good example of how you want your staff members to behave, again have a private meeting with them and offer an honest compliment to reinforce the behavior. The example mentioned above can apply here as well. Let’s assume that this same individual “occasionally” uses a past job experience to “humbly” show others something that is beneficial and can help them with their job. Complimenting that individual on the spot privately or publicly on being willing to share with others could have a positive impact. Just do it sparingly with the same individual, or it can be perceived having a “favorite pupil” that could create a negative perception of the individual and you.

We can’t change basic personalities, but we can alter behavior if we are proactive in dealing with both negative and positive instances. We have the right and the responsibility to form our companies with the values and a culture to which we subscribe. Why let our company drift toward values that we do not believe in? One minute coaching can be a valuable tool if we learn to practice it regularly.  

If you have not read "The One Minute Manager" or other books by Blanchard, I suggest you do. If you have read them, read them again or at least scan the key points. They are filled with business sense and sensibility.

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