People Lessons I’ve Learned…

July 22, 2009 at 6:00 am 1 comment

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License

This week I’m sharing with you some of the lessons that I’ve learned in my five years as a small business owner in the wedding industry.  Yesterday, we covered “Productivity Lessons“.  Today, we’ll discuss the “People Lessons” I’ve learned.  They are lessons about communicating with, working with, and collaborating with people.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned about People

1 – Be a Mentor, not a Manager

If you have employees and/or if you plan on having them someday, my best recommendation is to mentor them, don’t manage them.  I’ve had the same message for everyone that works for me: “You may work here until you are 92.  You may move on in 3 months.  Regardless of the length of our relationship, I want to give you life lessons that you’ll use in your career.”  With that mindset you will both have a mutual relationship of support and understanding.  Communication will be much more open.  Training will be much smoother.  When you see your role as a mentor and educator, your employees will be eager to learn and become invested in everything about your business.  And, you’ve got a better chance at them working for you until they are 92 if they are invested in what they are doing and learning.

2 – When issues arise, address them immediately

One bad apple can spoil the barrel.  If someone on your team has a poor attitude or is not bringing what he or she committed to, then it is time to face the issue.  Not doing so will sour the experience of everyone who works for you.  This will ultimately lead to a decline in your business.  Confronting a problem employee is an extremely challenging thing to do.  But, it’s an important lesson to learn… and practice makes perfect.  And, if you’ve been the mentor then your job will be made easier.

In my 12 years of managing individuals the best approach has always been one of concern: “I’ve noticed a change in XYZ. I’m concerned about ABC.  What is your perception?”  The fascinating thing is that often times it is something personal and the person is completely unaware that it is affecting their work.  By having an open line of communication and by acting as a mentor to the individual, you’ll have a lot better chance at breaking through.  I always end with asking this question, “I need to know that you are committed to ABC.  Can I count on you?”  You’ve clearly communicated the expectation and it’s time for both of you to move forward in a positive direction.

3 – Collaborate don’t Compete

I recently touched upon the magic of embracing your competition, so I’m going to take a different angle here.  Those who collaborate in this industry have a team of people to support their business.  Those who fixate on competition only have themselves.  (It really does take a village to have a successful business!)  I’ve heard horror stories of vengeful-cliquey-venemous battles between wedding vendors.  Hey – there are plenty of brides to go around for all of us!  By collaborating with your competitors you are bringing a strong unified collection of wedding professionals in your segment.  You are strengthening the industry as a whole.  Everyone has something different to offer, so find out how you can work together and how the industry as a whole can rise to the top.  If you see someone who is doing something similar to you and it makes you nervous (I’m not going to lie that this doesn’t make me nervous) find out how you can work together, not apart.

4 – Communicate!

I said it in yesterday’s post and I’ll say it again: GOOD communication is 80% of getting anything done.  (No I didn’t do a study to come up with that 80% number… it just feels right. 🙂 )  If you want to be successful in this industry communicate efficiently and effectively with everyone you have contact: vendors, clients, employees.  I am blown away when I don’t get a response to a phone inquiry or an email for a week or sometimes longer.   By returning phone calls and email promptly you are already doing what many people do not.  Let people know what you are doing every step of the way.  If someone asks you a question that you cannot answer immediately (it requires some research or additional work) let that person know that you are working on it and will give them an answer by X date.  It’s that simple.

5 – Listen

If you pay attention and listen carefully, people will express their needs to you.  This is most prevalent in a sales meeting with a potential client.  It’s natural to want to be the dominant person during a sales meeting.  After all the client has come to you for your expertise.  The danger is in jumping too soon.  By exploring and really listening to what your client has to say about his or her wedding, you’ll better be able to educate them about the best match between your business and their needs, wants, desires.  The first step is to listen.  The second step is to define a need.  The third step is to educate.  The last step is to introduce a potential match.

And with that… I leave you to go off in the wedding world with so many wonderful people!


Entry filed under: Human Resources, Life Lessons, Sales.

Productivity Lessons I’ve Learned… Profit Lessons I’ve Learned…

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Hiring Your First Employee « Sage Wedding Pros  |  July 27, 2009 at 7:45 am

    […] your vision.  And, you need to be prepared to teach them.  I recently talked about being a mentor not a manager.  This is most true with that first employee.  You must be prepare to coach them in all there is […]


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