Good Morning and Happy New Year!
by Kevin D. Crone
Four Leadership Issues in the Improved Economy:
- Leaders neglecting to engage their talented people in the conversation of where the business is going. These people represent the guts and soul of the improved productivity, business and creativity that is needed in the competitive economy.
- Leaders who do not put in adequate time into improving the systems and processes by which all activities and work flow through the company so that they are aligned with an improved and updated business strategy, offering and story.
- Leaders who do not build enough collaborative partners with vendors and customers when our economic landscape depends on it.
- Leaders who do not focus enough on achieving first-class performance based on the realized potential of their people, not their historical trends.
How to Face these Leadership Issues head-on in 2014:
1) Competing in a value-driven world does not mean your employees are more expendable. On the contrary, the more commoditized things become, the more important your people are to help you become differentiated within an improved offering. One of our clients, a big retailer, is adding to their sincere answer to, “Why you should do business with us”, by taking an employee-first attitude. They see that when their managers treat their employees better, pay more attention to them and their needs, their employees pay more attention to their customers. This may appear too simple to spreadsheet managers. Stocking shelves used to win the day, now paying more attention to customers is helping in the fight to take market share. In this economy every customer is precious. They are working on ways to measure how managers pay more attention to their people.
- Don’t start meetings with financial or other measurable reports. Martin Luther King didn’t start with, “I have a strategic plan or budget”. Employees need to know how they contribute to customers and the team.
- Block time to visit your people in their space. Book appointments like you would a customer.
- Learn to ask questions regarding personal interests vs. problems at the beginning of conversations. For goodness sake, find out what it is they want and are about.
- Get employees talking about the market, opportunities and where the business is going.
- Show them their future and how they can grow within it.
These are simple things, yet the balance sheet is normally more of a focus. The balance sheet is only a snapshot of the business at any given time. It offers no context whatsoever concerning the status of the guts, heart, soul and the engine, which are the people who create the earnings.
Recently I visited a CEO, Jeff, in Toronto, who had a 6-inch book with a profile, picture and description of everyone in his large operation. He interviews every new hire, knows their goals and adds them to the book. He knows how easy it is to be distanced from his people and ultimately what’s really going on. He feels responsible for making sure they succeed.
2) Everything inside a company that produces results and profitable action is tied into structure and processes. It’s virtually impossible to improve the business unless you examine the systems, processes, and structure that give rise to the behaviors and the results you are getting. For example when a process is designed around internal, political or bureaucratic needs, you usually find that customers suffer. So determine what it is you want the business to be about, to achieve and then, examine if you have the systems and measures in place to support it. If you don’t, no great intentions, strategy or goals will make it work.
Efficiency is another matter. Projects, tasks and initiatives should follow effortlessly from input to output with no obstructions, hindrances or problems. We wish! Effort is usually rerouted and progress is impeded. Examining a process flow can unlock the points that cause the chaos and disorder.
3) Treat your suppliers and customers as real people. Partner with them. Ask them what they are working on. Study their world. What insight can you give them to improve their productivity or reduce costs? Tell them you’ll both benefit by working together during a more competitive economy.
Vendor partners understand the need for lower pricing and can offer recommendations on ways to realize reduced costs. Allowing them a chance to be part of the dialogue pays dividends. Acknowledging your customers as partners can cast an entirely different light on business conduct. By following a similar asking and listening process as you would with a vendor, you can keep in the game with customers who may be struggling right now as well.
4) Isn’t it time to foster a people-centered culture? Free your people by coaching them. Also, you can realize the potential of your business and sustain performance when you invest in your people. Provide some coaching and training. It should provide a 3 to 1 return on your investment if it’s a good training process – a no-brainer! It’s a cheap way to build a company’s capacity and engage and retain your people.
In summary, a good mission for 2014:
Spend more time with your people and review your processes to make sure you are improving productivity and efficiency while achieving the business strategy you want. Make your vendors and customers partners, conduct performance appraisal interviews as coaching opportunities and keep developing your people so they can help you grow and the business.
- Block off an hour to get into your employees’ space, and get to know them better.
- Review your business strategy and then begin to look at the present systems, process flow, and while you are at it, look for impediments. Re-do the flow with a small team to make sure you are structured to do what’s needed. Call or email me – I’d be happy to help you get started – 905-826-7300
Have a great week!
Kevin D. Crone
Dale Carnegie Business Group
(905) 826-7300 / 1-800-361-2032
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New Coaching Series offered by: Kevin Crone, Canada’s Monday Morning Mentor
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