Chuck Faust leads aboutGolf through change Featured

7:27am EDT October 5, 2010

When Chuck Faust joined aboutGolf Ltd. in 2009 as their president and chief operating officer, he brought 25 years of experience in strategy and process development with him. One of the biggest lessons he’s learned during his career is to not shy away from change — instead, he embraces it.

“The issue of challenge is related to change,” he says. “The company and the business leaders who do that most effectively will thrive and those who can’t do that very well are the ones who are going to find it very difficult.”

Smart Business spoke with Faust about how to prepare for change and get the most out of your business.

Understand your customers. The thing you really need to understand is what is your customer looking for? One of the things you have to do is determine what segment of the market your customer is in and understand what they are trying to do so you can propose to them how best to be of service. In our case, we are a technology company that focuses on a world of golf and our desire is to understand our customers’ needs so then we can tailor the suite of different solutions we have to best meet those needs. The key thing is to listen. The key is to not simply promote what you have or what you may assume they need. One of the frequent tendencies of other businesses is to make assumption or to categorize. The key thing is to listen and to pay attention. Then bring ideas on how best to take care of those intentions, once they are understood.

Prepare for change. The world changes constantly. Business changes constantly. As an organization, we have to change constantly in order to respond to the changing world, the changing market and the changing needs of customers. There’s a lot of things that need to happen as you grow and as the organization matures and as you establish business processes that can respond more effectively. You can produce new ways of operating internally, so that you can execute more efficiently and more effectively. The company and the business leaders who do that most effectively will thrive and those who can’t do that very well are the ones who are going to find it very difficult. It’s a matter of defining how the company needs to operate with customers. Any business can be broken down into a few number of processes. For example, order to cash, or prototype to production. If you are going to run a business effectively, you would think of everything from where you take an order from a customer, then go through the process of building and fulfilling that order and shipping and installing and collecting the money and putting that into your bank account. All of that is a process and there is some uniqueness depending on the business, but essentially that process is a critical one for the company. All of that is requiring steps. The best thing for us is to map out how best we can deal with that in our industry. Then, put the steps in place so that it happens efficiently and effectively.

Find the right people. The key thing for any leader, first, is to be clear on what you need to do. Then the second thing you need to do is to ensure he has a capable team of people to help him do it. Unless you are a very small start-up company, you have to have a team of folks who helps the leader execute the various elements of the business. Those are the critical elements of what a leader needs. Clearly, you can interview until the cows come home, but you have to have a certain amount of ability to assess personality and effectiveness to work as a team together. There is a certain amount of value that goes with looking at evaluations and references, but what I like to do is give people the opportunity to describe how they would handle a situation. Give them a hypothetical or ask them how they would manage people or how they would handle a difficulty in personalities.

Once that is in place, there needs to be regular process of review and follow up with your team — not only what needs to be done but being encouraged in what has been accomplished so they can be motivated to continue what needs to be done in the future. You want to focus on what the challenges are in an honest way so people are not kept in the dark but, on the other hand, encourage with the progress and with the positive things that are accomplished so that morale remains strong and they have a clear picture of what needs to happen going forward.

Embrace difficult situations. Get people together and figure out why they are not on the same page. I’ve had cases in the past where people refuse to work together. The only way I know how to deal with those problems is to deal with them in a straightforward manner. Once again, it’s about working with adults. Once and awhile, you end up bringing someone onto a team that really can’t work with adults. You sit down with those folks, you explain what the situation is, and in my view, we always have to work together. It’s no different then a baseball team or a football team, if the players don’t work together they are not going to be very successful. So what would the coach say? The coach would say, ‘You know guys if you aren’t going to work together I’m going to have to change the team. You can decide if you aren’t going to work together or not, but then I can decide whether or not you are going to be on the team.’ In the end, that’s an important role of a leader is to ensure people work together and are on the same page of music so to speak. It’s perfectly okay to have a difference of opinions, but in the end, we all have to share the same set of objectives. If not, you have people heading in different directions and that is not going to work.

How to reach: aboutGolf Ltd., (800) 445-4653 or http://www.aboutgolf.com/