Hidden Overhead - Hidden Expenses Cost Money

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By, Keith Rosen

Although you have a handle on your business' operating costs, there may be some hidden expenses that are costing you more than money.

Many execs confess that although their business is moving forward, they find their time is consumed with, accepting or being dragged down by unwanted situations, problems or behavior. Not overwhelming individually, they have a way of building up until they effect productivity, cause stress and waste time and energy.

These costly tolerations can take on the form of an incompetent staff, poorly defined goals and strategies, lackluster results, weak relationships or undesirable customers. They prevent you from enjoying your business the way you envisioned.

So, why do we tolerate? "I was apprehensive and didn't know how to confront and eliminate certain issues," remembers Sean Stredwick, owner of Rockville- based Sanktuary hair salon, music and café. "I simply accepted there were always going to be problems when running a business, especially with personnel." "I realize now that by putting up with certain things, I was actually training people that their unacceptable behavior was okay."

Oddly enough, tolerating actually works for us. Putting up with unwanted situations creates resistance. Similar to striking a match, the friction of two opposing forces generates heat, providing us with energy. It's human nature to get our energy from any available source, even if it does cause suffering or difficulties.

Additionally, it justifies our attitude and performance. When we tolerate an overbooked schedule or a bad day, it justifies our right to complain, to stress, underachieve, to stay busy, or just be "helpless victims."

This energy charge keeps us busy-often too busy to make necessary changes or decisions. Although putting up with certain things may seem to produce results, they're more costly than we realize. "I was more apt to tolerate because it made me feel useful, even though I was letting something happen that I'd rather do without," claims Stredwick. "When I understood how these irritations effected me, I noticed the consequences on my business and work environment. Now I confront unwanted situations immediately without feeling guilty. I'm not angry as often because I don't let incidents fester until the point of eruption."

Having addressed his tolerances, Stredwick reports, "I make better decisions for myself which translates into better decisions for the company."

As you raise your standards and improve your quality of life, you tolerate less. You become unwilling to take on a person or situation who you know will cost more in frustration and time than the added money or productivity that may be generated. "It's allowed me to become a better leader and a model for my co-workers and others as to what's possible for them," claims Stredwick. "At some point, you just have to trust that your instincts know what's best for you," Stredwick concludes.

When you stop putting up with the things that hold you back, you begin to notice your life and career becoming easier and more fulfilling.

Since we need all the energy we can get, the alternative is to eliminate your tolerances. Here's how:

  1. List what may be dragging you down. Look at your business, career, environment, home and relationships for things you no longer want to put up with.
  2. Analyze your tolerance. Determine why you put up with certain people, behavior and situations. How does tolerating these things actually work for you?
  3. Handle the small irritants first. Begin by eliminating the less complicated things, such as a disorganized office or unreliable office equipment. You might be surprised in the change in your attitude/productivity when you don't have to cajole the copier into working.
  4. Examine your more complex tolerations. Determine what would need to happen to change/eliminate things like your stress level, inadequate salary/training, unsatisfying work or mediocre performance. Each one can be addressed through conversation and/or action. It's okay if you don't have an immediate solution. Ask yourself: What would need to happen for me to eliminate what I am currently putting up with?Note: Resolve these situations completely by addressing the source. Otherwise you'll soon find yourself handling the same annoyance again in another form. You will know you have eliminated these irritations permanently when they no longer occur to you as a thought, reminder or feeling.
  5. Establish a zero tolerance policy. Every irritation is going to have some adverse effect until either eliminated or you find another way to respond to them. Create a system to prevent these situations from happening again. One example might be setting stronger guidelines for the people in your life, informing them what behavior you will not accept. This can be done in a calm and non-threatening, yet firm manner.

Once you begin removing these drains from your life, you'll stop wasting time trying to manage situations that shouldn't be there in the first place. Investing this time to eliminate these trigger points of contention will add greater value to your company and cut out the costliest overhead in your business and career.

Copyright © 1999, Keith Rosen
e-mail address: [email protected]

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