Monday, December 12, 2011

Natalie Wood Uncovered

"Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable." --- George S. Patton

More than thirty years after actress Natalie Wood was found dead, floating in the water near Catalina Island, CA, the case of her death, which was ruled an accident in 1981, has been reopened. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's department wants to review more evidence uncovered by author Margaret Rulli in her book, "Goodbye Natalie Goodbye Splendour."

This is an interesting story not just because of all the glamour that surrounded Wood in her Hollywood heydays, but because of the evidence uncovered and that can be used 30 years later.

In your business, what will your past bring forth that might cause anxiety or pain? Is there an unresolved issue with a disgruntled employee? Were there bridges burned that might now need to be rebuilt? And finally, are there lessons from way back there that you can resurrect that will apply to today's challenges?

Let's explore all three with some tips on how uncovering the past might be a good thing. You might not find Jimmy Hoffa or Spanish medallions, but you will get other nuggets of value.

1.) Is there an employee that made threats or left disgruntled from your organization? If so, blow off the dust from his files and make sure that all of your documentation is up to date. Did he sign for your employee handbook? Did he receive training in areas of his job description? Was his I-9 form properly handled from start to finish?

These are the questions you want to ask yourself or your HR person. Obviously, you need to have all documentation up to date for all employees, but take extra precautions for those employees sending up red flags based on their actions or their reasons for leaving.

This is also a good time to ensure that all documentation is up to date on every team member. You don't want the past to come back to haunt you because you didn't take the time to do the simple things now.

2.) It is never too late to look up old contacts that may have dropped off of your radar because of burned bridges in the past. Perhaps there was a parting with a vendor over pricing issues, deliveries or just plain stubbornness on the part of both parties. Now is the time to look to see if that relationship can be mended. You may both be able to profit from a new beginning.

Maybe there is a prospect you gave up on years ago. Hopefully, you kept a good customer relationship management record and can call on him or her again. There might be a competitor you refused to associate with long ago. Look that business up and find out what they are doing. They might be able to partner with you on a project or perhaps they are under new management and want to send some business your way.

3.) Finally, what mistakes from the past did you learn valuable lessons from that you could apply to your business today? Sometimes, we forget the bumps and bruises along the way and bury them in the past. Those lessons learned the hard way are wasted if left in history. Take time to think about the stumbles you've had and use them to teach your team members. A good story after work or at lunch goes a long way in letting your team know what you've learned, how you learned it, and how it sets the foundation for your company's mission today.

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