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Rules of the Road


The other day I received an e-mail from Dan, one of my long-time Illinois banker friends. At this stage of my life, it is nice to find people who attended my banking schools decades ago who are doing well in their careers and lives. Some are now close to retirement, so it puts life into perspective.


The 40-20-40 Rule of People

Dan recently asked me to clarify three of my road warrior rules. One was the 40-20-40 rule of people as it applies to personnel and organizations. Quite simply, it is that 40% of people probably do not fit the work culture. That is, that they feel entitled and that the world owes them a living. If one employs this type of individual, they will cost you financially. However, the biggest cost may be mental as they tend to hinder the performance of those surrounding them. I recently spoke with some university professors who commented that the classrooms are becoming more littered with these types of people lately.

Twenty percent of people are marginal and will require much mentoring. They are “high maintenance” in supervision, but can become valued workers.

The other 40% are very talented, exhibiting a strong work ethic and the ability to interact with people. Some people call this “old-time work habits.” The question then becomes, does your business or organization have a culture and a work environment that attracts this upper 40% of potential employees?


The 7-Year Rule

The 7-year rule is that it takes seven years to build your business and customers’ confidence in your business. Once you have accomplished this, your customers will come to you. They are excellent word-of-mouth assets to your marketplace.

The 7-year rule can also apply to bringing the younger generation into your business. If the younger generation is not making management decisions within a seven-year period or have not met with the lender and analyzed the books, they frequently become a “hired person for life.”


Six Degrees of Goal Setting

The six degrees of goal setting rule states that one must have business, family and personal goals in balance with mental, physical and spiritual goals. The key to sustainability is balance.

This summer while you are out on the road or taking a vacation, think about how these basic rules can apply to your situation.


Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at [email protected]

TAGS: Management
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