January 24, 2017

Why Does The White Rhinoceros Always Look Wrinkled?

By Paul Bieber

An easy question if you think about it. Rhinos often play in mud and mainly live in desert-like hot and dry areas, banding together in herds. And if you think I am going to give you this answer now, you are wrong! But, the answer will appear at the bottom of this blog.

First let’s talk about the herd roaming around in your company. What defines this herd?

  • Employees who, because of their seniority, think they don’t have to work as hard as your recent hires.
  • The leaders of the herd make sure to protect their minions, blaming others for shoddy work and errors. 
  • The herd leaders also make sure their friends get to join the herd, leaving other recruits to whither away in the heat.

If you are a two- to five-employee company, you don’t have this problem. As you grow, this herd mentality can bring down many companies. How can you tell if you have herds?

  • Do you have disparate parts of your business that don’t speak with each other?
  • Do your foremen have too much power? Should they be working more closely with leadership?
  • Every employee of your company should be a recruiting agent for you. But does the herd leader bring in more than expected and want these new folks to work in his herd?
  • Has an “us” and “them” mentality cropped up in many parts of the company?

Make sure you communicate equally with all levels of your company. If you give a presentation to your first-shift folks, do it for the second and third, as well. If you have multiple locations, bring the people together for a company picnic or holiday party. Let a handful of people work in neighboring plants to bring back best practices, or to teach where needed. Every couple of years, change some of your work groups, giving people new responsibilities or work in different departments.

As an owner or senior manager, make sure your time is spread over all of your company’s people. Your primary job is the growth and profitability of the full organization and that comes first. When you spend time with people, share yourself equally. This prevents herds from taking over and running the company, possibly contrary to what you wish.

OK. Let’s go back to the headline. “Why does the white rhinoceros always look wrinkled?” It just takes too much time to iron them.

If you are groaning or cursing me, I deserve it.