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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Are you a “P” or an “L”?

It's just about a universal truth, but certainly one in tougher economic times: Management looks at profit and loss statements when making decisions. Sometimes that doesn't jibe with the need for a new tube or rewiring of a studio But accept the premise and it’s a lot easier to * Relate to top management * Demonstrate your value and the value of your ideas * See your recommendations through top management’s eyes * Work with other departments for a common goal * Help them realize that you’re on the same team Wow! Remember one axiom - look at the profit or loss - and that’s it? Not really but it’s a heckuva start. If you think about it a little, you quickly realize that profitability is a top goal of management. After all, you may answer to an ubermanager, but he/she answers to the CEO and he/she’s God. No, wait, there’s that board of directors. They’re God. No, son of a gun, there’re those stockholders. Those are the folks everyone answers to. Hey, PBS-ers…there are taxpayers out there who write their congressmen…you know, those people that allocate tax dollars…so, somewhere along the line, everyone answers to someone else! So how do you find out if you’re a profit or a loss? Well, the simplest way is to look at your own balance sheet. How much money does your department receive from the company and how much money do you generate? How much money do I generate? Why, none. I just spend it. Salaries, equipment, repairs, power, telco. It goes out faster than I can track it. Not true. It’s how you look at it. And how you frame it. How ‘bout that transmitter? What a loss. Wait, though. Without it, you reach no one. So making sure it’s always there – at a hundred percent, keeps it generating money. You can even assign a figure to it. Then what about gear you recommend or design? Does that automatic tower light monitor save any money? Maybe it removes the need for someone to visually check. Or consider the remotes you plan and execute. Do they generate revenue? You’re helping get those dollars in the door. And don’t forget cost savings you may have instituted. Maybe you cut a bunch of spending through better management – or brought a job in-house at a rate cheaper than a consultant…or even outsourced a job rather than hiring someone (it can work both ways). Found a new source for MOSFETs that cuts costs by a third? Went together with another cluster to get a quantity discount on equipment? Maybe you did a couple of graphics for sales’ powerpoints. Take a little time and jot down all of the revenue and cost saving opportunities that you helped create. Do a spreadsheet and show it all. Then sum it up and see where you stand. What if it looks like I’m a real drain? Well, the easy answer is, fold your arms and realize that you’re a necessary evil. It’s also the wrong answer. A lot of engineers thought their “first phones” would give them a job for life…if nothing else, at a directional AM. So how’d that work out? Better is to make a two pronged commitment: 1. Find ways to generate revenue or cut expenses…without being told 2. Merchandise what you’ve found back to management Here are few examples: * Take a look at your people and staffing. If you’re the Lone Ranger, that’s one thing but if you have help, maybe you can schedule better, reprioritize activity, or reassign workers to help in other areas * Can you provide a way to deliver a cheaper remote? Sales can use the remotes to generate more revenue * Have you built a tower lamp surge reducer? If you cut the number of climbs in half, you’ve saved a lot of money * Did you find a way to cover spots or protected music for streams? That will save a LOT of money * Merchandise your people back to management, too. These are just some ideas but the bottom line is make sure your boss and their boss know what you’re doing. : * A weekly/biweekly/monthly newsletter about status * Taking time to explain what you’ve done and why it saved money * Initiate contacts with sales regarding help developing revenue (Email blasts? Streaming commercials? Special SCA uses?) You don’t have to be a braggadocio about it – just make sure folks are in the loop. It’ll help you, too. You’ll get a better handle on where the organization is heading. That’s definitely important – and it gives you the ability to plan appropriately…and show management how you’re a part of the team.