Archives for category: Business

bankrupt

I firmly believe that one key differentiator between successful versus struggling businesses is the ability to effectively execute their plans.

Sounds logical enough, right?  Nonetheless, I am dumbfounded by how a business team can typically plan and prioritize the most critical action items necessary for success, and yet when it comes to implementing & executing the required important activities, there often seems to be some excuse as to why they weren’t able to effectively follow-through and complete those actions!

As noted in a previous blog on Execution Excellence, the ability to do what you say you are going to do tends to separate great visionary leaders from the “wannabes”.

Winston Churchill stated that He who fails to plan is planning to fail”.

Margaret Thatcher advised us to “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan”. 

My philosophy is a bit more assertive…“Not executing your business plan may lead to an unplanned “execution” of your business”.

head-heart

In my personal and professional life, I have observed a pattern with regard to how decisions are made…anatomically.

Starting with the Southern part of our body and heading North…

  • Especially in the heat of the moment, the knee jerk reactionis very common. This technique employs minimal insight and information when responding to a given situation.
  • From there, we may opt to the more sophisticated seat of the pantsapproach, where we use our limited personal experience and judgment to come to a conclusion without considering procedures, planning, or other available technology or input.
  • Then, we may advance North to “gut feeling.” At this stage, we utilize intuition, both our own and that of others, coupled with additional data in order to come to a conclusion on how we believe things will turn out.
  • Improving upon this practice, we might continue upward to “listen to our heart,” wherein we now allow our deepest emotional inclinations to have a stake in determining next steps.
  • Finally, we can move to the final stop in this anatomical journey…where we “make decisions with our head.

Incorporating the aforementioned components of personal experiences, available information and technology, valued input from many prudent sources, and then mixing in the proper amount of emotion and logic, we arrive at the “best decision:” one derived from your brain’s coordination of all available data points.

This fact-based decision making may take a little more time and discipline, however, our entire anatomy will thank us later.

 

Image result for sales & marketing team

A common fault that I find in the businesses that I coach is a lack of alignment between the marketing and sales operations. 

Actually, I consistently discover a lack of cooperation and collaboration between most departments in any given business operation!

Simply stated, the fundamental purpose of a company’s marketing efforts, beyond building their brand, is to generate and increase leads, i.e. opportunities for the sales organization to pursue and follow-up.

In order for the marketing team to excel, there must be consistent and frequent communication between these two business sectors (versus having them operate in their respective “business silos.”)

This lack of alignment between the marketing and sales operations can easily be remedied via well structured weekly, or worst case fortnightly, meetings between these two groups. 

The objective outcomes…

  • monitor performance
  • establish actual or perceived return on investment (ROI) from the marketing efforts
  • provide updates on what is and isn’t working in terms of lead generation
  • discussion regarding new opportunities that may have surfaced as a result of marketing efforts

My recommendation is to conduct a quick check-up within your business to gauge if these two business functions are operating in a co-dependent fashion.  This is mandatory in order to optimize sales productivity & results.

 

sales-activity

During my experience of either managing multi-million dollar sales organizations or coaching and training businesses on how to improve their selling operations, there is one belief that I am convinced of:

“Activity Breeds Results.”

Whether it’s executing face-to-face visits, making outbound phone calls (i.e.“dialing for dollars” ), prospecting for new customers, proactively maintaining existing client relationships, or massive quote generation with timely follow-up, the “sales” people who create the most activity are the one’s who tend to be the superior producers.

An obvious performance management necessity for any selling organization is the establishment of quotas or targets, coupled with a reporting measurement mechanism that can “scoreboard” the results for all of the players on your sales team…on a daily basis.

Most businesses will have some form of a CRM (Customer relationship management) system to facilitate this tracking & reporting for their business.

Now here’s the key to actually optimizing this “activity notion”…

“Managed Activity Improves Results.”

Mix in a component of consistent daily performance management, including praising for successes while coaching on those down days, will tend to multiply those results!

In order to accelerate your organization’s selling momentum, promote massive activity and manage it accordingly.

In the press of business (and life), it is so easy to get caught up in things, to feel trapped in the “whirlwind,” and become overwhelmed by all that is going on in “your world.

The rapid evolution of technology during our current stage of the “Information Age” makes it even more challenging to stay focused and deliver on our commitments.

Among certain individuals, there exists what I consider to be a truly exceptional trait, an oddity that, given my personal experience, exists in about 10 % of the business professionals that I have worked with and/or coached…

“doing what they say they are going to do,

and by when they say they are going to do it!”

Given this ultra-competitive world in which we live, it amazes me how often people or businesses are slow to, or in some cases don’t, follow-up on requests, obligations, vows, inquiries, etc.

Those unique people who indeed do what they say, and within the time frame that they promise, truly separate themselves from the majority who either are delinquent with, or worse yet, abandon their commitments.

Here’s a closing thought…perhaps we should consider delivering more than what we promise, faster than it is expected!

do what u say

A question for you to ponder: Do the best leaders surround themselves with great people, or do they help the people around them become great? 

My experience tells me the answer is…both!  But let’s start with the first part…

During a recent conversation with a highly successful manager, who operates in the challenging food & hospitality industry, a point was made about team development. He noted that one of his key objectives was to hire people who were better, smarter or more talented than he was.

This resonated with me as this has become one of my essential success tenets.

Decades ago, once I became mature enough to put my ego aside, the realization that if I secured, & surrounded myself with, really talented people, perhaps my leadership role would become much easier. And it did!

Often I’ve worked with leaders who feared talent that was potentially as good, or even better than they were.  They let their ego’s and foolish pride get in the way of doing the smart thing, which subsequently led them toward hiring marginal talent compared to what was available in the market place.  This ultimately resulted in less than optimal performance.

These “bosses” shared an underlying concern that the potential “superstar” would make them look inferior, or even worse, eventually “steal” their leadership position away!

This type of self-centered thinking not only limited the team & businesses success, but truly restricted that leader’s ability to grow through the organization.

The reality is that leaders who surround themselves with the best possible talent tend to produce better-than-average results. Further, they consistently demonstrate the ability to develop talent for the organization, which often facilitates professional growth and advancement.

Perhaps you have seen this happen in your experiences as well.  Or even worse, if you happen to be one of those who has unknowingly inhibited your success by falling into this trap, this could be the perfect time to take on that new approach for building your team.

surround

In reference to a prior blog on “The Review”, this process is often challenging and ineffective in terms of generating the desired performance improvement that Managers are seeking.

The traditional performance appraisal reviews past performance, and is often an inaccurate reflection of true performance due to:

  • inadequate preparation or effort,
  • poor documentation or record keeping,
  • any number of biases.

I believe that what really matters to is to provide your employees with input that leads to the development of their skills, which ultimately benefits them personally as well as serving the organization’s future.

There is much discussion in HR circles about eliminating the annual or semi-annual review process altogether. Such a change should foster more frequent conversations and updates about an employee’s performance, which is what most workers want.

ConstantONGOING coaching and feedback is one of the keys toward achieving continuous employee growth and development.

I’m not saying micro-management, but rather taking the time to ensure that every employee:

  • understands the clear expectations surrounding their role and responsibilities,
  • knows where they stand in terms of their performance,
  • and has a vision of how to grow and improve.

feedback

Featured image

Years of experience in “enduring” the employee performance review process, coupled with facilitating many training sessions to client businesses on the topic, has validated one common denominator: the Managers and Employees alike involved in this ritual have a general, mutual dislike for this obligatory activity!

Performance management entails a desire to develop individuals who have the necessary competence to achieve organizational and individual objectives.

Performance reviews are one element of this development process, with the ultimate goal being for the employee to improve the quality and efficiency of their contributions to the organization.

If conducted properly, this will serve as a springboard for elevating that employee’s productivity and morale.

The frustration surrounding the review process typically arises from a combination of factors including:

  • seeing the procedure as a task versus a development opportunity
  • unclear expectations surrounding job responsibilities
  • insincere feedback or evaluations
  • poor preparation
  • lack of diligence in documenting ongoing performance
  • inconsistent communication
  • not caring!

Give this some thought during your next round of appraisals to consider if you can possibly yield more meaningful results that will benefit both you and your team.

problems

Throughout my career, I’ve observed various strategies for “dealing” with problems, an essential function of leadership:

  1. avoid confronting it and hope the issue somehow goes away
  2. delegate to subordinates and assume they can fix the issue
  3. add the issue to an ominous to-do list and get to it based on priorities
  4. face the issue head-on, and promptly resolve it with appropriate intensity

Obviously, certain situations require greater responsiveness and urgency than others.  Regardless, if a situation falls into what you define as a “problem”, your role as a leader is to resolve it as quickly as possible.

Following the protocol outlined below will enable you to consistently address and resolve those “problems.”

  • Identify exactly where the core issue lies (people, process, etc.)
  • Quickly gather all pertinent facts
  • Determine possible solutions, using all available human resources
  • Select the optimal resolution, including who is best capable of handling it
  • Take immediate action
  • Evaluate and monitor to ensure proper resolution

Applying this formula to eliminate challenges will allow you to spend your energy proactively focused on the activties that can drive your business forward.

Recog

During a revisit of Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, I was reminded of the importance of recognizing and praising other people.

A review of virtually any survey on why employees quit their organizations (or bosses!) reveals that the lack of praise, feedback and/or recognition is a consistent contributing cause for their departure.

Reflecting on past experience, I believe that leaders would do well to seize this opportunity and make ongoing recognition an essential part of their management toolbox.

And not just by email! Whenever possible, a face-to-face thank you and acknowledgement, or handwritten feedback, will typically be seen as much more meaningful by the recipient.

Some recognition checkpoints:

  • ensure the praise is very specific, citing exactly what the person did, and why it was beneficial to the team
  • it must be genuine and authentic
  • provide recognition as close to the action as possible…urgency is impactful
  • although praising in public is desired, be aware that a jealousy factor on the part of others might occur

Leadership challenge: are there opportunities for you to improve your reward and recognition efforts?