I was recently asked to write a guest article for another software company here in San Francisco. They wanted to know how I would answer the following 2 questions:
It's difficult to keep pace with all the great business literature published these days. Here are some quotes from top thinkers to help you gain their most practical, actionable insights:1. Tracking Metrics
There are many ways of categorising metrics, (often called KPIs or Key Performance Indicators). They can be arranged by industry, functional area and role type, to name just a few. Researching KPIs in these categories can be helpful in identifying the metrics that are appropriate to take advantage of your team’s strengths and resolve the challenges that they face.
To really get the best out of your people and be the best organisation you can be, you need to give your people a compelling reason to work for you, beyond simply earning money.
Your core purpose is not about what you do or how you do it, your core purpose is why you choose to be part of this business and it defines the difference you want to make in the world. Together with your Big Hairy Audacious GoalTM and Core Values your Core Purpose forms the long term vision that you have for your organisation.
In my opinion, the meeting facilitator’s primary role is to optimize meeting productivity. Well-structured meetings chaired by a competent facilitator can help keep attendees focused and engaged, hold people accountable for performance, support the decision-making process, and assign clear tasks to advance progress. Before giving you some of my recommendations for meeting facilitators, let’s review The 5 P's of Productive Meetings:
I remember the first personal development book I ever purchased. It was called “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz. I was going through a low point in life and the promise on the book jacket jumped off the bookshelf: “Millions of readers have acquired the secrets of success through The Magic of Thinking Big. Achieve everything you always wanted: financial security, power and influence, the ideal job, satisfying relationships, and a rewarding, happy life.”
As I have written previously, when hiring for any role in your company, it is vital that you follow a proven process. That’s where the Topgrading methodology made a huge difference for me. I learned to follow a disciplined hiring methodology to significantly increase my chances of hiring A-Players for every role.
Reference Check Interviews are a vital step in the hiring process, and many employers conduct this step poorly, if at all. My firm recommendation is that reference checks must be conducted before any hiring decisions are made. No reference check interviews = No job offer. It’s that simple.
As I have written previously, when hiring for any role in your company, it is vital that you follow a proven process. That’s where the Topgrading methodology made a huge difference for me. I learned to follow a disciplined hiring methodology to significantly increase my chances of hiring A-Players for every role.
Some authors write dismissively of military leadership and its applicability to modern business. I wonder how familiar they are with how modern elite military units actually operate? They might be surprised to know that military leaders have overcome many of the challenges of managing people in the modern era, challenges that business leaders are only just beginning to understand.
Having a great brand is just as important as having a strategic plan. We're pleased to have Wendy Dressler of OutreachMama.com give her view on how to create one that will delight your target market and drive the right customers to your business. — Tom Lombardo
Your brand is the face of your company. In simplest terms, your brand is your name, your logo, and your color scheme, but in reality, it’s so much more.Your brand is what defines your business, what people know you for, and how people recognize your work.
If you are implementing new software into your organisation there are steps that should be taken to ensure it rolls out successfully. Software implementation projects can be large and complex so for the purposes of this article I’m going to assume you’ve completed your business case and vendor selection process. You are happy with the product you have chosen, your resources are allocated and it is time to start the rollout. You will have technical configuration and training planned, but there are also tactics that you can employ to increase your chances of setting up your implementation for long-term success.
I enjoy live music and frequently attend concerts but none have inspired me to write about the experience in a business context until now. On Friday night I saw Las Vegas based band The Killers, as much as I enjoyed the night, it left me thinking about changes in the music industry and the impact of creating a brand.
Steve Blank is a silicon valley author, entrepreneur, university lecturer, and pioneer of the Lean Startup movement. I read an interesting blog article by Steve about creating a “No Excuses” culture and thought I would explore the concept further.
The 70-20-10 ratio has several applications that I am aware of: Time allocation in meetings; Resource allocation for driving innovation, Job training - just to name a few. You may be aware of other applications too. The order in which the ratio get applied tends to vary, 20-70-10, 70-20-10, 10-20-70 etc. Here my take on how to apply these ratios in your business:
A Japanese proverb says, “Vision without action is a dream. And action without vision is a nightmare.” For any successful organization, the vision is the strategic plan. And yet many leaders find themselves in the nightmare of constantly putting out fires and working “in” the organization instead of “on” it.
Since you'll complete your strategic planning at meetings, following the 5 P’s of productive meetings ensures that you approach them with the right mindset. Following these principles enables you to conduct an effective process, to be clear on the decisions that you will make, and to set yourself up with the best plan to execute on your strategic priorities.
Here are the 5 P’s as they apply to strategic planning meetings:
You know the feeling: One day you find yourself looking for "creativity" in the tiniest nooks and crannies of your business processes. And then it hits you: Somehow you've lost sight of the universe in which your business exists. Every successful leader has felt disconnected like this at some point. You don’t know what needs to change, but you know that you’re looking for the answer in the wrong places.
Worldwide, employers are finding it difficult to find and retain skilled workers. At the same time, employee expectations have evolved dramatically, making the market for the best people more competitive than it has been for nearly a decade.
Here's a classic marketing story that I love. It's about an elderly woman who needs to buy a new furnace to replace the one in her home that has just failed. Naturally, she goes to an appliance store. There's only one salesman on the floor, so she waits patiently for him to complete a phone call. Then he walks over and introduces himself.
One of the key aspects of a maturing organisational structure is developing and documenting standard procedures. Doing so has a huge benefit for both companies and individuals, of course, but we’ve found that it comes with a downside: we frequently see that processes can slow down innovation and embed the status quo. They can create a dangerous ‘this is how we’ve always done things’ mindset.
I wanted to be a fighter pilot when I was a young boy growing up in New Zealand. That was my first BHAG. I joined the Air Training Corps as a cadet as soon as I was old enough. I learned to fly solo in a glider when I was in high school. I studied math and physics because I knew you needed that to be a fighter pilot, and, as soon as I was old enough, I applied to join the NZ Air Force.
Sometimes success breeds anxiety, and the business leaders we serve worldwide are expressing both. On the success side, the U.S. is still enjoying the record-breaking stock market bull run that began in 2009, and most of our clients have profited from it.
Strategic alignment starts with leaders. They align first, and then they invite everyone else to link arms. That's how the best companies in the world are run. That's how the "best companies to work for" earn their reputations.
Leading firms have found that the clarity they achieve with a brief, focused strategic plan can actually do much more than align management. It also makes it possible to drive revenue by making everyone happier.
When conducting strategic planning with clients I have a saying that I share with them, “Successful Business Execution is 20% getting clear about what needs to be done, and 80% following up to make sure it actually gets done”
If you haven’t abandoned performance reviews yet, you probably have the same reason as Facebook: “Critics of performance evaluations have suggested that ratings automatically produce a fight-or-flight response,” their executives write. “Actually, many people have stronger reactions to not being rated.”
Most businesses collect an ocean of data these days, and it’s easy to drown in it. But once you’ve got a few million data points, which can happen incredibly quickly even in a small business, you realize that you may as well have none.
Being in the privileged position of guiding our clients through our Quarterly Strategic Review process, every quarter I receive feedback on one of the elements of our strategic planning process. Each quarter we review our client's current reality and methodically help them set their key strategic priorities for the coming quarter.
Top tier consulting firms have major clients in their “logo soup.” On their website and on a slide in their first presentation to a potential client, they are proud to mention the fact that they have provided services to large, prestigious companies in their area or vertical. It shows that they’re in the top tier of their category. It shows that people with significant budgets and significant pressures on their performance trust their judgement.
Clients typically come away from a strategic planning session or a goal setting session all fired up and focused. It’s one of the best parts of any consulting engagement. As I mentioned earlier in this series, it’s the best time to ask for a referral and to get a testimonial.
It can be hard to sell an intangible service like consulting. It’s even harder to justify your price. You might have a solid business background and rate your abilities as an educator and facilitator very highly. But so do many of your competitors. How do you show prospective clients that what you have to offer is meaningfully different and superior?
RESULTS.com started out in New Zealand, where I am originally from, more than 20 years ago. For most of our history, we were a management consulting firm, helping small to medium size businesses to create their strategic plans and implement our business execution methodology into their business to help them execute their plans.
Most management consultants deliver guidance in two broad categories: First, there’s the business side. Then there’s the human side. The two have become evermore intertwined.
I’ve learned many management lessons the hard way, but one of the most important was the realization that I can make things a lot easier on myself and achieve far better results if I hire the right people in the first place. That’s where the Topgrading methodology made a huge difference for me. I learned to follow a disciplined hiring methodology to ensure I only hire A-Players for every role.
You don’t need proof to know that people do better work when they’re in a good mood. And you don’t need a study to tell you that a good mood will spread from person to person. But how do you put people in a good mood? How do you get that started? If you could do that, your team would be happier. Management would be easier, and, almost certainly, there’d be a positive impact on your business.
You’ve probably heard the cliche that goes, “People get promoted to their highest level of incompetence.” We say it as a joke when we meet a manager who doesn’t know what they’re doing. But people really do get promoted into positions they shouldn’t have, and believe it or not, it’s almost always because of the executive’s best intentions. You can solve this problem, or prevent it, with one tweak.
I love watching a great rowing crew in action. The boat glides through the water, propelled by oars moving in perfect rhythm. It may be the most graceful example of teamwork in the world.
Business is filled with numbers, but you want everyone in your company to be aware of, understand, and talk about only a few. These are the numbers that track the execution of your long-term, 3 to 5 Year Strategic Moves, and chart your progress toward your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).
Back in 2006 I attended a presentation given by business author and former Gallup researcher, Marcus Buckingham. One of the highlights of his presentation was how he defined the difference between leadership and management.
One of our new staff members asked me the other day, “Why is it important to capture your strategy on just one page?”
Last year sure got under people’s skin, didn’t it? I think this is the first time in it’s 127-year history that the Wall Street Journal actually published a guide – no kidding – to “night spots…throwing parties to capitalize on widespread bitterness about 2016.” While losing Mohammad Ali and David Bowie certainly means 2016 had it’s downside, let others search for reasons to be “bitter.”
A fascinating discovery recently reported in the Harvard Business Review arose from an experiment where the authors asked pairs of strangers to tap out a beat. They either tapped in-synch with each other, or out-of-synch with each other. Later, one of the pair was faced with an unfair load of work, and the other knew about it.
A lot of entrepreneurs think about strategic planning around this time of year, which is great, because the exercise has never been more important than it is now. In the recent past, you could go for years without changing your business much, and still make payroll. In fact, the heroic entrepreneur was often the guy who kept doing the same thing, really well, for years on end.
Now that Millennials make up 36% of employees worldwide, most executives and business owners have made a priority of meeting their needs and aligning their success with the company’s. Fortunately, doing that for Millennials succeeds in doing it for most all employees. That’s because, as a group, they entered the workforce over the course of the recession, which for them was a formative experience. But since they shared it with everyone else, the lessons they learned, and the desires they pursue as a response to it, apply to a much broader demographic.
When approaching the implementation of KPI structures, there will be key challenges that you are looking to resolve, opportunities you are looking to take advantage of and core behaviour you are looking to encourage (or discourage).
If you haven’t abandoned performance reviews yet, you probably have the same reason as Facebook: “Critics of performance evaluations have suggested that ratings automatically produce a fight-or-flight response,” their executives write. “Actually, many people have stronger reactions to not being rated.”
Deloitte surveyed 7,000 global business leaders and 92% of them said their number one priority was to update their business’ organizational structure. It makes sense that so many of them would identify the same issue at the same time. The simple fact is that having a great organizational structure has become a major competitive advantage.
We work with many companies that are going through an exciting, if somewhat stressful, period of transformation and growth. Often they have identified Key Performance Indicators as a crucial part of how they want to manage this change, and they always have the best of intentions. They want people to know how their work contributes to the company, and they intend to situate things so people can succeed often and contribute more.
Meaningful achievement depends on lifting one's sights and pushing toward the horizon.
– Daniel H. Pink, Drive
Great executives lead a group of committed people to a destination on the horizon. They keep their head up. They trust each other. They’re probably not marching in formation, but they’re strategically aligned because they’re heading to the same place. What matters most is that everyone is looking forward.
In 1943, Abraham Maslow published "A Theory of Human Motivation" in Psychological Review, where he laid out his famous Hierarchy of Needs for the first time. No one paid any attention. But Maslow was different, and determined. He rejected the prevailing opinion that advancing psychology meant scrutinizing mental illness, so instead, he spent the next decade studying the most extraordinary people in society. Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass and the top 1% of college students became his subjects. In 1954 he released his findings in what would become one of the greatest classics of the social sciences, Motivation and Personality.
One of my favorite things about RESULTS is working with the most interesting business leaders in the world. We have clients ranging from shipping providers to sports leagues. But when I read a recent study estimating that businesses waste USD $3 trillion a year on “excessive management,” I knew that out of all our clients, the ones who had addressed that problem the best are agencies.
It is common for firms of all sizes to reach a plateau where their revenue growth stalls out. And while political, regulatory, and economic factors beyond our direct control can have an impact on company growth, of course, research documented in the book Stall Points shows that 87% of growth stalls are preventable, and are related to the strategic decisions you made in the past.
Picture your org chart as it looks from the bottom. There’s a hundred people down there with you, looking up. You haven’t much authority. It’s easy to think your job is not too important. Even your goals don’t seem too important. You feel like you don’t matter very much, and so you sulk into work, collect your pay, and avoid any trouble.
Your people are with you because they love your culture. There’s something about the way you run your business that fits them. They like each other, and they like your customers. Every leader who's ever run a successful team knows how important those intangibles are. Your culture feeds your success.
As a CEO, you’re always looking for the insight that will change everything for you and your business.
You study your competitors because you intend to see what they missed. You read everything, hoping to find that outlier idea first. You chat with your friends, working off their thoughts to sharpen your own. And for the last decade or so, a lot of CEOs spent a lot of time creating – and recreating, over and over – one “dashboard” after another.
In Season 2, Episode 3 of Game of Thrones, What Is Dead May Never Die, Lord Varys says to everyone’s favorite character, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister,
“Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick, a shadow on the wall, and a very small man can cast a very large shadow.”
When he says “a very small man,” Varys is playing with Tyrion’s height, because his real point is that “any man” can cast a very large shadow - if he knows the “trick.”
The plays we recommend in our recent Productivity Playbook can help you create a culture of accountability. In that culture, “accountability” should drive the productivity improvements that ensure the business results you are looking for.
Six out of ten executives believe, according to the Harvard Business Review, that their enterprises make good decisions as often as they make bad ones.
That’s horrible. Can you imagine trying to get a degree with a record like that? What if every time you got an “A,” you got an “F” as well? You’d go insane. What about raising children? What if every time you managed to do something wise, you knew that your stupidity was about to land a punch as well? You’d go insane – and you’d be depressed.
I go hunting at a duck club about an hour east of our San Francisco office, and last season when I aimed and shot at a Mallard, I had an inspiration. I realized why people have a hard time understanding business leaders – even if they really want to.
According to research from the Gallup organization, employee engagement begins when each employee can strongly agree with the statement, “I know what is expected of me at work.” To this end, Metrics, commonly called Key Performance Indicators or KPIs, help to clarify performance expectations for your functional teams and for every role in your company.
You know the cliches about hard-nosed capitalists. You’re the tough one who can weather any storm. Everyone else is afraid of risk, but you have an appetite for it. You go out into the world and bring back deals that create jobs. You’re a captain of industry.
Right down the street from our San Francisco office there’s an international consulting firm that helps clients “develop radically better businesses.” Called Wolff Olins, they have one of the most interesting types of C-level executives in the city: a Chief Storytelling Officer.
One of the more interesting books I have read on strategy recently is “Playing to Win” by Procter and Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin. The book uses case studies from Procter and Gamble’s history to demonstrate how to create a winning strategy.
Core Values are one of the cornerstones of a strong, healthy organizational culture. Their importance is often underestimated, even though they can change your business from being a place where people just “turn up and check out” into a dynamo where your people are energized by their contribution.
No one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.
― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
Working with new people is one of my favorite things about starting a company. Watching your crew engage with your vision is a beautiful thing. I love it w
Around May of last year, the unemployment rate in the United States fell to about 5.5%, which economists consider the “tipping point” that puts job seekers in a position of control. At that point, there are too few of them, so employers compete for hires.
Hiring accountable people is the key to success for any business, but their accountability is only part of the equation. Here’s the secret to getting the best out of the best people you’ve hired.
A look into key performance indicators for financial teams that will contribute to the entire companies success.
We have previously blogged about defining KPIs and about the benefits of having the right KPIs. Now, I am taking a deeper dive into specific functional areas of your business to look at how to identify strong KPIs, and what my recommended Top 5 are for each area. For this first post, we’ll examine finances.
Learn how to figure out the “one thing” you need to do right now in order to achieve your definition of success.
There is a great scene in the movie City Slickers where Mitch, played by Billy Crystal, is riding on horseback in the New Mexico desert alongside the grizzly old cowboy named Curly, played by Jack Palance. The old cowboy is coaching him on the secret to living a successful life.
"The secret to happy, committed employees isn’t much of a secret, really. In small ways and big, you need to prove to them that their work truly matters." - Jon Olinto, Co-founder of b. good
Many business leaders will argue that sales is a numbers game. But what if you’re not focusing on the right numbers?
Today’s business ecosystem is almost all digital, which makes it easy to obsess over all kinds of data. As a result, many sales leaders will fall into the trap of measuring the wrong metrics.
Many companies claim to have a strategy, but all they have done is an exercise in goal setting. This is a mistake. Here’s how to create a “real” strategy.
KPIs vs. OKRs. Talk about alphabet soup! What do these 3 letter acronyms mean, and what exactly is the difference?
Lately, a number of clients have asked about the difference between OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), so what exactly is the difference?
There is nearly 11 times more business to business organizations with automation than there were in early 2011. Why?
Businesses are finding new innovative ways in which they can cut down on costs associated to poor productivity. In a recent study by Business Insider, it was found that your company could be losing up to $3,156 per employee due to issues related to poor productivity.
Did you know 87% of the terms sales and marketing use to describe each other are negative?
So how can we embrace each other’s differences to increase customer acquisition together?
Over the past couple of months, our marketing and sales teams have grown significantly across both offices in the northern and southern hemisphere.
Over the course of the economic recovery we’ve been expanding RESULTS.com in North America at double-digit rates, and that’s put us in a unique position to watch a fundamental change in the way people relate to work.
It has a lot to do with the Millennials coming into the workforce, but it’s not just them.
Understanding how Millennials function in the workplace can be a challenge. Here's how to make the most out of Meetings that include Millennials.
We’ve all experienced the awkward, frustrating attempt to converse with a person who relentlessly checks his or her phone. Their eyes rarely greeting your own as you speak: “Am I boring you?” “Is that text really necessary?” These are some questions that arise when someone expresses their egregious indifference towards you as you attempt to connect with them.
What it takes to create and inspire your team with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
The work we do at RESULTS.com gives us the rare privilege of being able to study thousands of businesses, working closely with them to identify the right goals and approach to developing a successful business strategy.
Being founded in New Zealand, customer service is very important to us, NZ remains the top country for customer service so here’s how to get it right.
By working closely with our clients, we’ve identified a real need for companies to set, manage & measure customer service KPIs. All too often we’ve found that customer service teams could be doing far better than they expected or, they’re just not getting the credit they deserve.
Q: Do you know the most common regret expressed by business leaders? A: They wish they had dealt with poor performance sooner.
Giving positive feedback is relatively simple; although most managers probably don’t recognize and praise their people frequently enough. Giving negative feedback, on the other hand, is something many managers procrastinate on.
Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are often misunderstood. Here's why:
3 KPIs every social media marketer should consider when tracking performance:
Social media isn’t the easiest marketing tool to measure, considering constant changes to algorithms, and the fact senior executives prefer to focus on more traditional methods. There's no doubt social media is an important part of the marketing mix, but how valuable is it for creating leads, increasing sales, improving brand recognition, etc?
Here’s how you can go about it - set a small number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are simple, easy to measure, explain and prove its value. If you’re asking the question; "what is a KPI?" make sure you read our blog "What is a KPI?"
7 steps to create more accountability and alignment with KPIs in family and small business:
I received a question from a client recently.
There's a lot out there about KPIs. We'll help you uncover everything you should know about KPIs.
1. Honestly, what is a KPI...
How do you think Gen Y would react to KPIs? The answer might surprise you. The Millennial Generation, otherwise known as Generation Y, now comprises the largest population of humans entering the workforce. How to connect with these digitally entrenched, smart-phone-in-hand, globally-minded individuals can appear a daunting task for someone who grew up in a time when "social networking" connoted encounters of physical presence, and diaries/scrapbooks hadn't devolved into "Snapchat Stories."
Identifying your company's strategic moves is important, but executing those moves is the hard part. 6 tips for strategic execution success:
An article in the Harvard Business Review titled, Why Strategy Execution Unravels - and What to Do About It, states while leaders have a pretty good idea of what strategy is now, unfortunately they know a lot less about translating strategy into results.
Your KPIs establish the pulse of your organization and ultimately its success. Learn how to find the right pulse.
When people are going through the process of choosing their Key Performance Indicators (the numbers that drive the success of your operating model), they often ask, “How frequently should we be tracking our KPI measures?” It’s an interesting question.
Where do you think employee engagement starts?
With all the thousands of books and articles published on the subject “employee engagement” over the last decade, you’d think some of it would be having a positive impact by now. Not so.
Brainstorming isn't nearly as effective as you think...
Some managers believe that incentives be attached to KPIs. But is that what the data suggests?
When supporting clients to define and track their Key Performance Indicators, I often get asked how to link employee KPIs to individual incentive payments.
Many managers operate under the assumption that people work primarily for money, and that you can motivate people to work harder with a financial “carrot”. My 3 word response to them is, “Fraught with danger”.
Employee engagement starts with your employees agreeing with, “I know what is is expected of me at work”. To get there you need the right KPIs.
In a previous article: “What is a KPI? It's probably not what you think”, I looked at Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - what they are, and where to look for them.
Now that we have a notion of what KPIs are, let’s look at the some of the key benefits of identifying and measuring the right KPIs for your organization.
Creating effective and meaningful Key Performance Indicators is an art.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on the subject of KPIs as part of a training course I am developing for RESULTS.com clients. To be honest, it’s been a tough slog. Let’s just say the source material is somewhat …. dry.
How you can become a better entrepreneur and leader
The analogy of military leadership and modern management, particularly for Gen Y (aka millennials), might seem like trying to mix oil and water. I shared a similar bias, viewing military leadership as being aligned to a strict hierarchy with a strong focus on a “command and control” management methodology.
Solving problems for employees is like playing a game of fetch and that's not a good thing.
What do you say when a person gets into the habit of coming directly to you with a problem and asks, “What do you think I should do?”
Your subconscious urge will be to provide you recommendation, or even make the decision for them. Your ego gets stroked because you get to play “the expert.” It feels good.
New research from McKinsey & Co suggests that a small subset of skills correlate closely with the success of frontline leaders.
I have written before about the importance of middle managers, and how front line supervisors have a greater impact on company performance than any other role. This stems from the key role that middle managers play in project management, coaching individual performance, and the supervision of deadlines. For sure, this is not the most glamorous side of leadership, but it is where the key to higher performance lies. Middle managers coordinate the work of others and play a key role in fostering innovative and creative team environments.
Before you charge off and set up a countdown clock, make sure your goal is grounded in reality.
I just read some interesting research that may help us to be more effective when it comes to achieving our long-term goals. According to the research, using a frame of reference where we picture our goals based on a “number of days” we have left until the due date can be more effective in getting us to take action now - as opposed to thinking about our goals in terms of weeks, months and years.
The numbers don't lie... or do they?
Many years ago, when I was a competitive bodybuilder working toward the goal of being named Mr. New Zealand, I measured several things so that I would know how I was progressing. They were my personal Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Ford Motor Company used weekly meetings to improve company performance. Here's how:
When Alan Mulally became the CEO of Ford in 2006, he discovered that his senior executives spent too much time in meetings, so he quickly eliminated all unnecessary ones. However, he instituted a comprehensive weekly meeting to review strategic progress and discuss performance.
Most CEOs and business leaders know culture is important, but don't truly get what needs to change.
Many business leaders acknowledge the importance of employee engagement, but few actually know what tangible things they can do to motivate and engage their team. Adding to this problem, I found an interesting note in a Harvard Business Review article which indicated that the employee engagement score declines as you go down an organization’s org chart. Effectively this suggests there is a disconnect between leadership and their respective teams.
Meetings get a bad rap. People hate them. But they can be productive.
A Microsoft survey tracking office productivity contacted 38,000 workers around the world to identify "productivity pitfalls." Respondents reported that two out of every five days on the job were wasted. The main culprit: "ineffective meetings."
Most companies and teams start the year fired up. Then then flame out. Here's the 3 lacks causing this.
A flameout is "the failure of a jet engine caused by the extinction of the flame in the combustion chamber." I've never seen a jet engine flame out, but I've seen a lot of flameouts in business. You probably have as well.
We have a saying at RESULTS: "You should never have a meeting without data." Here's why.
At RESULTS.com we are in the the privileged position of being able to observe thousands of managers and teams working on their Goals, and by analyzing the patterns we quickly learn what works and what doesn’t in terms of achieving better business results.
CQ Hotels is leading employee engagement in the hospitality industry. Here's how.
Disruptive technology has created rampant competition in the hospitality / hotel industry with the likes of Airbnb and HomeAway.
Online review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp also require constant attention to detail when it comes to maintaining a high-level of service and a prestigious product. Another challenge in the hospitality / hotel industry is a disproportionate percentage of employee turnover.
Core values serve as the building block for a strong company culture. At advertising agencies, culture is important.
Core values serve as the building block for a strong company culture. It might be an exaggerated comparison, but core values are like your company’s version of the “ten commandments.” They help provide your company direction and serve as its moral compass.
$37 billion USD is wasted in unproductive meetings each year! So. Do you know what you're doing wrong?
A study referenced in Strategy + Business looked at mid-size companies and recorded the types of meetings they held, and the impact these meetings had on company performance over a period of two and a half years.
4 practical tips you can use to increase brand awareness and drive lead generation with LinkedIn
At RESULTS.com we have a lean marketing team. Many of our clients share a similar set-up with equally ambitious lead generation goals and sales targets (often in lieu of a marketing budget at all). Does this sound like your company?
For this reason, we’ve leveraged LinkedIn to create brand awareness and to feed qualified leads to our sales team. Below is a list of practical tips I’ve learned through using LinkedIn to help fuel company growth.
Management is key to even Google's success. Do you know what traits make a good manager?
I read a fascinating bio on Larry Page, the co-founder and CEO of Google. The story goes that for many years he was “anti-management”. After all, Google went to great lengths to only hire the most talented software engineers, and he thought that having a layer of supervisors to manage them and prioritize their work was an unnecessary cost and impediment to getting work done.
Ignoring transparency in business is radically silly.
Transparency is something most people value, whether it’s in business, politics or with personal relationships. Unfortunately, in many cases, the word transparency is used as little more than a buzzword.
Customer service is ultimately linked to your business’s bottom line. Customers will avoid your company for up to 2 years after a bad experience!
Just as rave reviews about a company can travel quickly across social media, so can stories of rude service or a company being unresponsive to their customers. Social media and mobile devices have given customers a voice like they've never had before. Whether you realize it or not, people are more likely to talk about bad customer service experiences than good ones.
Employees want to discuss their goals, but managers aren't making time. Why?
Do you know exactly what is expected of you at work?
The extent to which you can agree with the statement "Do you know exactly what is expected of you at work" is one of the key predictors of employee engagement according to the Gallup organisation.
Business leaders tend to be incredibly busy individuals. “Busyness” should never be confused with effectiveness however. We need to switch from being busy, to achieving results.
If you want to get things done effectively, clarity is critical. Here are 5 ways to help with effective task management.
From observing many thousands of clients using RESULTS.com software, I have learned some subtle differences that can make your Task management and Delegation much more effective.
Micromanagers kill employee engagement. Are you guilty?
Many people think they are being effective managers and are shocked to learn their actions are stifling growth and creativity. The cause? Not realizing they’re the dreaded micromanager.
KPIs can make or break your sales results. Here are the big 5 sales mistakes to avoid when developing your sales KPIs.
- Focusing on just financial KPIs
- Too many KPIs
- Measuring activity without measuring effectiveness
- Not setting a pass or fail criteria
- Lack of visibility
Big mistake #1: Focusing on just financial KPIs.
Sales is all about reaching financial KPIs that the company has budgeted for. But it is a mistake to purely focus on financial KPIs to drive sales as these are outcome focused. If you want to influence sales outcomes you need to measure the precursor (inputs) to the sale. These are behavioral KPIs like the number of phone calls, meetings, proposals etc. When managers focus on holding salespeople accountable on the right KPIs sales will grow!
Big mistake #2: too many KPIs.
Have you heard of the phrase “paralysis by analysis”? The issues when measuring too many sales KPIs is just that! It is very confusing and hard to hold people accountable to what really matters. If you want to hold your team accountable, less is best. Try not to focus on any more than three KPIs, which sounds easy but it can be difficult to narrow it down to three that really matter.
For example, a recruitment company that we worked with had an overwhelming dashboard they measured everything possible, but failed to hold their Recruitment Consultants accountable on what really mattered. When push comes to shove what really mattered was just three KPIs. 1. Number of Job Orders to Fill, 2. Candidate interviews with Client meetings, and 3. Sales revenue MTD. This massively increased the revenue of the company because it focused the recruiters on the right behavior, because at the end of the day nothing really matters unless you have job orders, and candidates in front of the clients.
Big mistake #3: Measuring activity without measuring effectiveness.
An easy trap to fall into is to measure the activity without effectiveness. On a recent client visit, they had a salesperson from a supplier call on them just prior to my arrival. My client took pride in pointing out that the salesperson who just left turns up every month, does not ask any questions, has a general chit chat, does not add any value and is in and out of the office within minutes. He then proceeds to sits in his car to tick off his call reports! Do you think his company has the right KPI’s in place? The salesperson is obviously measured by the activity on the call report but not the effectiveness of the call. Never, ever make a call with out an objective!
Big mistake #4: Not setting a pass or fail criteria.
If you want to manage the right behaviour with your sales team, they not only need to know the right KPIs that they need to achieve, but they also need to know what a pass and or a fail looks like. Having a traffic light system is a great visual to achieve this:
- Red = Off Track
- Yellow = Needs Help
- Green = On track
For example, the recruitment company measured Job Orders per recruitment consultant:
- Green = > 8 job orders (On track)
- Yellow = 5 – 7 (Needs Help)
- Red = < 5 job orders (Off track)
Big mistake #5: Zero visibility.
Visible dashboards in sales are often referred to as “Wall of fame or shame” and are a good way of holding salespeople accountable to the right behaviour. For the most part salespeople are a competitive bunch and they don’t like losing, so this acts as a system of self-motivation. Furthermore there is nothing better for the competitive salesperson to know that they are smashing their results, their peers and they are all green! Because Green is what makes them money! As for red, it is like a red card in sports. They don’t want to keep playing if they are getting reds. So they either shape up or ship out. (red-carded).
- Do you have a dashboard, which effectively drives your sales?
- What are the key milestones in your sales process that influence the sale?
- What is the right activity, which drives sales results?
- If you had to measure one thing what would it be?
- How can you make your sales visible?
- What improvements could you foresee if you had this in place?
Learn how to smash your sales KPIs. Sign-up to access our free KPI success kit.
Recognizing when a flameout is about to happen is key to improving your meetings and company performance.
When I was a boy who dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot, I tried to learn everything I could about jet planes. That's when I heard about flameout for the first time.
15 percent of all new hires think about leaving on the very first day.
Everybody shows up motivated for the first day on the job. Unfortunately, for many people at many companies, that's the most motivated day they'll ever have. In fact, one study by Booz and Company concluded that 15 percent of all new hires think about leaving on the very first day.
People often ask me, “What should I do when one of my team members isn't performing?"
Most companies do a poor job of tracking and managing how we invest the most important resource of all: our time.
Many companies use Dashboarding software to be more effective at tracking and managing their Key Performance Indicators, Projects and Tasks. However, research published in the Harvard Business Review showed that most companies still do a poor job of tracking and managing how we invest the most important resource of all: our time.
A proven process to drive accountability in any organization.
Without a doubt, the most stressful times in my management career have involved dealing with poor performing employees. What follows is an approach to help you turn things around for the better.
Most brainstorming sessions are ineffective. Try these two approaches, one based on research, the other from Google Ventures
I learned many years ago from my friend Doug Hall that the way most companies conduct brainstorming is ineffective. He documented these findings in his excellent marketing book, Jump Start Your Business Brain. Here’s a quote:
What makes a company successful? Is it strategy? Is it Culture? Read on to learn what creates success...
With the increasing pace of change in terms of technology disruption. globalization, and the changing nature of work itself, what should companies do to ensure they continue to survive and thrive? This article is my take on recent research published in Strategy+Business.
Congratulations on becoming a manager.
Most new managers are left to sink or swim when they get promoted into a leadership role. The data is concerning, 40% of new managers don’t last 18 months. Why do so many companies tolerate the lost time, lost opportunities, lost money, and of course the inevitable heartache that comes with dealing with a new manager who does not perform?
How to encourage creativity to improve employee engagement
Every business has some kind of competition. Technology and globalization has heightened this. Without a doubt, someone somewhere is grinding away to make a product just like yours, only less expensive, better looking, and faster. So what can you do to keep one step ahead?
Core Values are a building block to your company culture.Many companies have a core value statement that is printed beautifully in their literature or hanging on a plaque on the lobby wall. But are your values really alive in your company? Do they really matter? It should becasue your Core Values are a building block to your company culture.
The value of value Core Values.
Whether it’s explicit or not, every company has a personality, a culture. It can be defined in many ways, but one of the simplest definitions I use is that a culture is “how things get done around here”. Culture defines the guiding principles, the ‘non-negotiable’ rules of play. These are the company's core values.
For small organizations, values often reside in the hearts and minds of the owners or leaders. And that works when a company is small and every decision, customer interaction, or employee issue is handled by the owner. Where it breaks down is when a company grows and the owner isn’t involved in every interaction any more. At that point and beyond on the growth path, employees now have to make decisions and represent the brand consistently, in the same way the leader would.
In order to do this, your employees need to understand explicitly what the values of the company are.
Implication in the marketplace
Values also come into play in the competitive marketplace. Successful companies win the battle for two things - great people and the best customers. Great employees don’t work for you because of a pay cheque or a benefits plan. If they are really good they can get that anywhere. What they are really looking for is a place where they fit, where their personal values are aligned to the company values.
One of our Energy Services clients has a core value called “Live Safely”. Everyone from the CEO down the organization is very clear on the behaviors that support this foundational principal. Those who act in accordance flourish; those who don’t, will not survive in their culture.
Similarly, the best customers are attracted to vendors who ‘fit’, whose values are aligned to theirs. They look for strategic suppliers who share the same belief system. In his book, “Start with Why” Simon Sinek argues that customers don’t buy from us because of what we do, they buy from us because of what we believe. He cites Apple as an example; Apple didn’t create a cult of fanatic customers simply by producing good computers, MP3 players or phones. Customers are attracted to the brand because of what their company stands for – Apple believes in challenging the status quo, by creating products that lead in design, and that break new ground. This is part of its value system – a system that has helped catapult Apple to becoming the number 1 brand in the world (May, 2011 Study by Millward Brown).
Creating meaningful value statements
Many company value statements look something like this
The problem with value statements like these is that they don’t define the business; they look the same as everyone else’s and are too generic. And they certainly don’t have any meaning to employees and customers. There is no personality here.
Value statements need to be relevant, meaningful and simple. They need to apply to everyone in the organization, and they need to paint a picture of what the value-based behaviors look like.
A great example is from one of our clients. The firm is a residential painting company and they wanted to express a value around quality of work. They could have used the word “Quality” or “We do a good job”, but that was what all their competitors were saying and it wasn’t meaningful to their staff or customers.
Instead, they crafted the statement “Three coats means three coats” in response to the reality that in their industry their competitors often promised additional coats of paint, but often only applied one to cut time and cost. “Three coats means three coats” is a unique and meaningful value statement for that company.
Living the values
For values to be really alive in your organization, they need to be used on an ongoing basis. And in order to use them, your people need to know them. So step one is to make sure that everyone in the organization can state the company values. Consider creating a simple acronym to help your employees remember them.
Once your employees know and understand values, here are some ways to keep them alive in the organization on an ongoing basis:
- Recruiting – successful recruiting is about ‘fit’. Will the people you are bringing on board fit the culture and personality of the business? Will they represent the brand appropriately? The only way to know is to test for fit in the recruiting process. Testing for values fit is not about asking, “Here’s our values statement, what do you think?”. Consider instead creating a set of structured questions to test for values fit. For example, one of our values here at RESULTS.com is Passion for Learning. In our recruiting process we have designed several questions to test for fit to this value, including “What are you reading right now to keep up your professional knowledge?”, and “What courses have you taken in the past year for professional or personal development?” The responses to these questions give us insight into the candidate’s fit for our environment. Remember, you can always change what someone knows; you will never change who they are.
- Values Stories – values come alive and are better understood if your employees hear stories within the company about other team members living the values. Consider making “Core Values Stories” a part of your regular weekly meetings. One of our clients has created pre-printed index cards called “Value Nominations”. On the card, there is space for employees to nominate their peers when they see them living the values. These cards are shared at the weekly meetings, and handed off to the nominee as a formal method of recognition.
- Performance Management – Your performance management system should evaluate employees on two spectrums; performance to role measures and performance to values. This approach is well documented in the book “Topgrading” by Geoff and Brad Smart. “A” Players are those that consistently demonstrate the company values AND meet or exceed the performance targets for the role. Managers should be measuring on both spectrums during performance reviews. Management Dashboard Software makes this easy.
If you are still skeptical about the importance of core values in your organization, consider this final thought. Companies that are built upon strong core ideologies and values outperform those that consider it lip service. The research supports it, and business leaders and CEOs agree that a strong foundation built on core values help move companies from GOOD TO GREAT.
If you'd like to learn more about the importance of culture and core values in an organization, download our free culture resources.
6 management myths to avoid ASAP.
I have read hundreds of business books over the years, and to be honest it’s hard to impress me these days. A lot of “so called” best-practices are often nothing more than the same old myths that keep getting perpetuated. As a result, I seek out authors who bring meaningful data and intellectual rigor to their work. One of them is Professor Bob Sutton from Stanford.
Employee engagement requires "difficult" conversations (sometimes)
One of our clients emailed me recently wanting to know:
As a leader of a company, branch, or team, you have a few secret weapons to help you get things done. Mine is the weekly team meeting (that happens to occur on Monday).
One of the secrets is what we call the “weekly execution meeting.” This meeting will only be effective if you have carefully chosen goals and have the right KPIs in place for each member of your team. If you have these, then your weekly meeting is the most important thing you do as a leader every week. These meetings should be the most productive part of your week, but they often aren't. Before stating these meetings, remember:
As a business leader, you need to think carefully about how you spend your most important resource – your time.
If you're not deliberate about how you manage your time, you can fritter it away doing “busywork” – e.g. responding to emails and reacting to what is going on around you. You may feel like you are working hard, but are you actually moving your company forward?
Employee disengagement occurs when managers lose touch with what's happening on the "ground."
Research contained in the book “The Progress Principle” identifies key principles proven to help business leaders drive better employee engagement and business results. Here's our take on 7 ways to be an awesome manager:
The 1:1 meeting is where you are focused solely on one team member and how you as a manager can best support your direct reports.
Weekly team meetings are vital to share information, make decisions, and align your team for business execution – but the subtleties of each individual’s particular needs cannot be fully addressed in a team meeting.
Do KPIs have you confused? Here's why they're important and how to use them.
Personally, I like the idea of KPIs or Key Performance Indicators, but if you do a quick Google search using "KPIs" it's easy to become overwhelmed with the search results (last time I checked, I got almost 7 million!).
Bigger, better, faster, cheaper is not strategy! 5 hallmarks that you must avoid.
One of the more interesting books I’ve read in the last couple of years is the book, Good Strategy Bad Strategy, by Richard Rumelt, and I thought it worth repeating the key points again.
The book “Business Execution for RESULTS” written by RESULTS.com’s Stephen Lynch was named Winner in the “Management” category of the USA’s 2014 Small Business Book Awards.
Learn how to use KPIs in way that makes a difference in your results even when you're away on holiday.
Imagine that you're the CEO and you are vacationing on a distant tropical island. It's lovely there, but it's very remote. Communications are severely limited. In fact, you can only receive a single five-line text message per week to let you know how things are going at the company.
The number of software tools we have for communication and collaboration is expanding all the time, but the trusty old email is going to be with us for a while yet. Depending on which research you look at, approximately 300 billion emails got sent every day, and the average business leader receives 100+ emails per day. It is becoming increasingly stressful to keep on top of it all.
Focus on less to achieve more: a secret to winning in business!
This article is part of our series to help you create a robust one page plan for your company
Guest blog post by Nicky Powers: @nicki_powers_
Digital Marketing Manager at Zeis Group
Your Brand Promise should be blunt, overt, and compelling...why?
Your Strategic Position is a statement of who you are. Your Brand Promise should tell your customer what they can expect to receive from your brand. Your Brand Promise is the blunt, overt, compelling offer you're going to put in front of your target market customers. Your Brand Promise is going to be derived from, and supported by, your three Key Benefits.
In a previous article “How to identify your ideal target customer”, we learned how to clearly describe your “center of the bull's-eye” customer. We identified who your ideal target customer is and what your customer really needs and wants, and succinctly captured that information in your One Page plan.
How to increase value of your product or service should be something of magnificent importance in every business. What separates two products of the same inherent value, why do we pay so much for a Rolex over a Swatch? Quality? Sure. That’s a part of the equation, But the real answer lies in the power of stories.
Business goals are like climbing a mountain, and are easier to achieve when you involve your team.
Every employee has a mix of motivators, and that mix almost always includes the same three things.
"Looking back over my career, I can't remember a single bonus check or what it was for. The money went into my bank account, and I used it to buy things. Salary and bonuses quickly become "part of the package" for employees. They may feel good for a couple of weeks, but it has limited effects on future performance.
Existing leadership teams can become too attached to decisions that were made in the past, particularly if the incumbent leaders were involved in making those decisions. If a Private Equity firm (or other external investor) were to take a financial stake in your company tomorrow, what changes do you think they would want to make?
Multiple studies suggest a strong relationship between employee engagement, happiness in the workplace, and levels of productivity.
Now that it’s February 2014; do you remember your New Year’s resolution(s)? Here are some of the most common goals we set for ourselves:
Maintaining focus with your SWOT (don’t go chasing squirrels).
As mentioned in the last post in this series, your SWOT Analysis (an analysis of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) should be updated every quarter to ensure it is an accurate reflection of your current operating environment. The pace of change is increasing and you need to keep ahead of it.
Creating your SWOT analysis means addressing the Elephant in the room.
As mentioned in SWOT Analysis – part 1, you need to start with a clear strategy, before you even look at doing a SWOT Analysis.
Then you need to keep the concept of “Dual Vision” in mind. Strategic planning requires us to look at how to improve our current business - “improving what is”, balanced with what we need to build to succeed in the long term - “creating what will be.”
Don't do a one-eyed SWOT.
Early in my business career, (prior to joining RESULTS.com) I had the experience of having external consultants come into my firm to do “strategic planning” with us on an annual basis.
We would go to an offsite meeting. They would start by having us do a SWOT analysis (an assessment of company Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), and then we would create a long list of action items and go back work and do our best to get these things done – with varying levels of success.
Most management writers these days encourage leaders to be more participative and collaborative in their decision making. Gone are the days of the top-down, hierarchical organization of the past they say! But then why does the business media continue to make heroes out of highly autocratic leaders, writing biographies about them, and sticking them on the magazine covers?
A couple of years back we booked a half-day pistol shooting session with a tutor at the LAX firing range in Los Angeles. One of the things he said stuck in my mind. "Remember," he said, "you have to aim for the bull's-eye if you want to hit the target. If you just aim for the target, you will be more likely to miss it."
That's as true for marketing as it is for pistol shooting, but it's not an insight that comes naturally to business leaders.
I've encountered several companies that seemed to think that it was best not to aim at all. A plumbing company might describe its customers as "anyone who needs plumbing services." A toy store could say its customers are "people who buy toys," while a toy manufacturer would describe its clients as "companies that sell toys."
It sounds reasonable, but actually it is a huge mistake. It's like aiming in the general direction of the target: You waste a lot of ammunition. As any good shooter knows, if you want to hit the target consistently you need to aim for the bull’s-eye every time.
Start by clearly defining what “done” looks like. We see far too many companies choosing Project Goals to improve their business without a clearly defined finish line of what the “100% completed” Project looks like. Or, if the Project is part of a longer-term strategic initiative, what is the specific milestone that you intend to reach by the end of this quarter?
Modern management books and articles write dismissively of the so-called “command and control” style of leadership (except of course when Steve Jobs was doing the commanding and controlling). The authors infer that the so-called “military style” of leadership does not belong in the modern business environment.
Middle managers have a tough job. They are the meat in the sandwich. They have to execute the strategic direction of the company, and implement change – even if it may be unpopular with their people. They manage a finite set of resources. They have boundaries to the types of decisions they can make. They have to make sure information flows up and down the company. But, ultimately they are the ones who make sure the company achieves its goals.
The art of setting role expectations to improve your team's engagement.
Employee engagement surveys continually show that most employees do not agree with the simple statement:
It’s almost a cliché in business; Managers saying, “I have an open door policy.” But what does this really mean and what are the implications of this?
In my first management role I took this advice at face value and quickly became frustrated with the number of interruptions I experienced with my team constantly asking me questions.
When setting business goals, whether they be numerical targets, or the achievement of key milestones in the execution of your chosen strategic projects, it is important to guard against the following common pitfalls:
Companies who are highly effective at business execution follow a disciplined hiring methodology. This ensures you only hire “A-Players" for every role in your company, as described in our previous article “No more hiring mistakes". Hiring is too important to get wrong.
Many managers I've met think they're better at communicating than they really are. Communication is hard. It doesn't just happen. It has to be deliberately designed. Here's a couple of suggestions mistakes to avoid, and how to be a better communicator (and therefore a more effective leader):
Many painful business decisions can be avoided simply by hiring the right people. Learn how.
Looking back over my management career, the worst experiences were without a doubt, having to deal with poorly performing or badly behaving staff members. I remember the stress, anguish, not to mention the loss of sleep thinking about the tough conversations I needed to have.
Good leadership is timeless with a consistent set of 10 attributes.
While there’s much about leadership that remains constant over time, there are profound strategic changes occurring in many industries, and the pace of change is only increasing. Leaders need to display certain attributes to deal with these changes.
Ideally, we proactively contact our customers to assess their level of satisfaction (or better yet their level of advocacy) with our products and services and take action to resolve any issues that are raised. Seeking customer feedback needs to be a regular discipline, as the dynamics of the relationship can change over time.
One of the best things about working at RESULTS is that we get the opportunity to meet and hang out with many of the thought leaders on the planet. It is a chance to understand their thinking, discuss ideas, hear how they apply ideas and concepts and to just get to know them.
I am lucky enough to live in the leadership space. Every day I am paid to lead the company to set and achieve the goals set by our strategic plan. Every day I am influencing people and their activities. Every day I am overcoming the challenges that this throws my way.
I have started noticing that when I begin consulting with a new client, very early on I get a pretty solid feeling on how the next year is going to go. I haven' t made it a disciplined study, but I think I'll open a file on my smartphone and start keeping track of which clients I think are going to be successful, and which ones might struggle. Success being defined as being able to improve their business in a way that's favorable to them (more revenue, more profit, or however they define it).
High performance leaders make time to plan ahead.
As I go about my daily work with business leaders, I find myself constantly encouraging them to plan ahead. Being reactive leads to them constantly “playing catch-up.” As a team leader myself, I find it is a constant challenge to be one step ahead of the team, to see what is coming next and to shape the future so I understand the challenge.
I have been blessed over the past several years to have had the opportunity to work as a volunteer and director with two nonprofit societies. I have watched them evolve from a group of individuals with an idea to well-functioning, mature, and highly successful organizations.
A survey of over 10,000 firms in over 20 countries, found 3 key success practices associated with top performing companies that every good manager should strive to follow. Companies that exhibit these best practices were associated with a 3% higher return on capital, 26% higher market valuation, and 70% faster growth.
Making the case for accountability and reasons why some managers fail...
Recently I was asked why it seems so hard for some managers to hold their people fully accountable. There are several reasons, but mainly they just don't know how.
Several years ago one of my clients asked me to deliver a speech for 1,600 of their people on "the essence of excellence." Putting together that talk was a daunting task and after weeks of research and talking to top CEOs around the country I finally settled in on what I felt were the three key watchwords of excellence: FDA
Business leaders all around the world have been using the RESULTS.com One Page Strategic Plan to capture their strategic decisions and share them with all their staff. This planning template is even used at MIT in Boston as part of the Entrepreneurial Masters’ Program.
With all the articles about the importance of websites, blogs, email newsletters, and social media platforms it is easy to forget that these are just communication tools. If you don’t have a clear and focused inbound marketing strategy, no communications platform is going to save you.
Should you accentuate the positive or eliminate the negative?
Certainly, every leader should try to do both. Yet, given that you have limited time, attention, and resources, an interesting question is: which should take priority? Common wisdom tends to suggest that we should focus on the positive, however a growing body of research indicates that it's more important to eliminate the negative.
MBA trained managers usually know about the theory of strategic planning, but they know very little about business execution i.e. how to execute a plan - according to the book “Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change.”
If you are a business leader, you know the importance of innovation and creativity. With the right spark your firm can leap ahead of the competition, grab “first mover advantage” or even redefine your industry. At the same time, if your company is not the innovator, you could be on the losing end and left behind.
Many business leaders realize the need to make profound changes to their company strategy – but become incredibly frustrated when they roll out a new plan and don’t achieve the implementation traction they desire. Creating a winning strategy is just the first step. Most leaders struggle with business execution – the discipline of getting the right things done.
It is summer here in New Zealand. A time when people take a longer holiday and enjoy family, time in the outdoors and exploring our beautiful country. Business leaders need time out, and I try to take at least three weeks off and to unplug from the grid. This means deleting the e-mail accounts from my cell phone and not being available! Novel stuff I know in the world of 24/7 connectedness.
Good intentions will only get you so far. Follow through and execution is the key to success.
Check out the RESULTS.com Linkedin Group. Unlike other groups on Linkedin which can quickly turn into self-promoting spam-fests with every member promoting their own interests, our group solely focuses on providing members with quality content curated by our consultants to help you think strategically and become more effective as a business leader.
A client once asked me how much I read. I read about two dozen business books a year, plus countless blogs and magazine articles. I also listen to several business, sales, and management podcasts. I take the bus whenever I can, so I have an hour or so to read either way. Plus I don't have to deal with traffic.
Many business books and articles present case studies about successful companies and endeavor to find common themes we can learn from. Unfortunately, good luck and forces outside the control of the business leaders can play a bigger role in these success stories than the authors care to admit. Also, success can be a very fleeting thing, and many authors have been embarrassed by their reference companies going from “great to bankrupt” in the space of a few short years.
Much of my working life has been spent as an Army Officer, initially as a regular and later in the Reserves. I have found that the skills I learned and applied on the battlefields of the world are very relevant and transferable for leading teams and driving business execution; especially in this increasingly dynamic and ever changing marketplace.
Imagine you got to work on Monday and you knew exactly how you had performed the previous week, and could look up how everyone else was doing. Or a manager could go online, any time of the day or night, and see how their team was performing, who deserved a bonus, who was lagging, even if those people were customer service staff, or engineers", said the introduction to a research article in Harvard Business Review.
4 ways to improve the feeling of progress in your company.
After examining 12,000 daily diary entries from workers in a survey, the authors of the book “The Progress Principle” reached a set of fascinating conclusions: How people feel inside profoundly affects their performance - and the most powerful motivating factor for employees is seeing tangible progress whilst performing meaningful work.
One of my family’s favorite movies is RV starring Robin Williams. In it the hero Bob Munro, played by Williams, takes his family on a vacation in a rented RV while secretly continuing to work in his high-profile job at an advertising agency. He even goes as far as coordinating his cross-country RV trip to put him in the vicinity of an important meeting with a key prospect, and attempts to covertly attend the meeting to land the a major new client without his family knowing.
I spent an enjoyable afternoon a while back speaking with my good friend, author John Spence about key business success fundamentals. John should know. Some of the companies he consults to include Microsoft, IBM, GE, AT&T, & Abbott Labs in the USA, as well as New Zealand dairy products giant, Fonterra. He writes about the 6 key business success fundamentals in his book Awesomely Simple.
Many companies are trying to do more work with fewer people - and it can take a toll in terms of increased stress levels, health problems, deteriorating relationships, and weakened job performance. You might feel like you don't have time to exercise, eat right, or modify your behaviors right now, but consider this: Your current high level of stress may be your "new normal".
I was recently asked by one of our RESULTS.com software clients to take a look at their strategic plan for the coming year. The CEO said that he held up his strategy document against a 10 part pressure test I had written about previously, and he was pretty confident that his team had done a good job, but he wanted me to take a closer look and provide an objective viewpoint. His enquiry made me think that it would be worthwhile re-posting this article. Does your strategy pass the test?
Numbers drive the world of business: Revenue, profitability, production efficiency, production output, lost-time due to accidents, and a variety of other measures are commonplace. And leaders would be at a severe disadvantage without timely and accurate figures relating to all aspects of their business. Numeric literacy is a must!
I never liked the Bus concept Jim Collins writes about in his books. He asserts that your business is like a bus. According to Collins, the business leader is the bus driver, and you need to “get the right people on your bus”. I think this concept is flawed and demeaning. I propose an alternative analogy for your business – the Viking Longship!
One of the things I love about working with RESULTS.com is that learning is constant. There is never a day goes by that I don’t learn more about business, people, leadership, or gain new perspectives that challenge our thinking about things or how we do them.
Peter Drucker said effective executives do not make many decisions; rather they concentrate on making a few important ones that will have the biggest impact on the business. They make the big strategic decisions, rather than running around trying to solve lots of little problems. They do not make fast decisions either.
RESULTS.com congratulates AnswerLab for being recognized as one of the Great Places to Work in the USA - as published in Fortune Magazine. Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer Dan Clifford said “Being recognized as a Great Place to Work is especially meaningful to us because it is based on employee feedback. It’s validation that our focus on culture, training, career development and fun, not only enables us to provide amazing service to clients but also provides a rewarding work environment for the team. We know that talented employees value an engaging and enriching work environment so we hope that this recognition will help us continue to attract top talent.”
You only succeed as a leader when your team succeeds. Your job title may state that you have a leadership role in your business, however when it comes to various Strategic Projects that your company is working on, you may be the leader in some projects, but you may be a follower in others where you only have a bit part to play. If you want to be a great leader, you need to learn to be a great follower as well. Here’s how:
Any business leader will tell you that referrals and word-of-mouth introductions are the most effective sources of new customers for companies in a business-to-business environment. A recent review of our RESULTS.com client base showed that well over 50% of our current clientele originated from referrals, and, in some cases, we could trace numerous new clients back to one raving fan.
Most companies don't use KPIs correctly and unfortunately don't see how they improve management.
Most companies do their best to set numerical targets (goals) for the month and the quarter. However, they seldom do a good job of setting and tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) - the small handful of predictive measures that you measure on a weekly basis that will ultimately drive goal achievement. Nor do they do a good job of holding people accountable for results.
The art of using consequences to improve poor performance.
Recently one of our Software users submitted a question on our website and asked the following, “What do I do if someone in my sales team does not hit their targets each week and has a red dashboard? How do I handle that?”
In order to be effective as a business leader, you first need to earn the trust of your team. And yes, trust has to be earned – it does not automatically come with the title. The level of trust you earn is always in a state of flux too; you are either building trust, or eroding trust with your every word and deed. Here are some simple (but not always easy) actions you can take every week to build more trust, build more accountability, and earn the full commitment of your team:
Becoming a better manager / leader requires that you listen to your team. Learn the art of generous listening:
One of the keys to business execution success is the art of generous listening. It is core skill for business leaders to master if you want to be able to influence and align your people. As Stephen R. Covey said, “First seek to understand, then to be understood.” Your influence will only reach to the extent you’ve paid attention, and have been seen to pay attention. If you've been through the "active listening" course you know that those techniques are fine. But merely restating to confirm understanding will only take you so far.
Peter Drucker once said, “If you cannot manage yourself for effectiveness, you cannot expect to manage others”. Studies show that on average, leaders are interrupted every 8 minutes (or about 73 times per day). Interruptions can include telephone calls, email messages, interruptions by colleagues, as well as the odd crisis. An average interruption time of 5 minutes – equates to about 4 hours - or 50% of your productive time being wasted by interruptions!
It is estimated that only 0.5% of the US population will ever complete a marathon in their lifetime. Unfortunately most people will never experience the joy of this achievement. Perhaps it's because people are intimidated by the 26.2 mile distance which makes up the marathon? However, as someone who has now completed three marathons, I know that running a marathon is just like any worthwhile goal - you must work towards it every day, and it is achieved one mile at a time.
If you were like me growing up, you may have found yourself in the school principal’s office from time to time due to some misbehavior or offence. For me, I recall one particular occasion when I was on the losing end of a playground brawl with one of the larger boys in my school. Of course, my parents got involved, and I had to endure their long lecture about how picking fights was not such a good idea – especially with kids bigger than me!
Picture a rowing crew in the Olympic finals with the coxswain calling out the tempo of the rowing strokes. Everyone in the crew is rowing in time and the boat is rapidly slicing through the water. The race winners have a plan. They stay focused on the execution of their race strategy even though they can see their competitors jockeying for position in their peripheral vision. They maintain their synchronous cadence – a fast, even tempo for the duration of the race, even when they are tired and don’t necessarily feel like it.
I've had the good fortune to hang out with some very passionate and driven marketing folk lately, learning about how they tap into emotional archetypes to drive action. I find this topic fascinating. Any business leader knows that getting people to change the way they do things is one of the hardest things a leader has to do. But it’s critical to business execution.
At some point you will have to deal with an upset customer. Your business execution challenge is to handle each situation in a way that leaves the customer thinking you are a great company to deal with, and if you handle the issue really well – hopefully they will become a passionate advocate for your brand.
Most days I am working with business leaders who are trying to drive business execution and achieve better results. Finding the time to execute their strategic plan whilst managing the fast pace of “business as usual” is the biggest challenge for the leader of any organisation. In reality, it is really about making strategic execution the number one priority on an extensive priority list.
How do you achieve business execution success whilst making quality time for your personal life? The higher you climb; it seems the greater the personal sacrifices you need to make. Many high achievers burn themselves out thinking they have to get everything done.
A seemingly simple question, though a surprisingly hotly contested issue... as I found out at a recent Social Media Club event! Put a hundred or so Social Media managers into a room and it soon becomes clear we are all passionate about what we do. This has never been more evident than when the entire reason for the industry came into question, ‘What is the purpose of Social Media?’ The resulting debate was both entertaining and enlightening.
Almost 90% of companies in a global sample of 1,854 large companies failed to achieve profitable growth, even though they claimed to have created strategic plans that specified clear targets for growth - according to an article published by the Harvard Business School. These companies all set goals, but they did not achieve the results they were looking for. The reason for this failure to grow? It's called Business Execution.
There are profound changes occurring in many industries. Are you going to be one of the casualties or one of the success stories? Business leaders have to deal with more complexity than ever before - and they are being forced to make tough strategic decisions that will profoundly impact their company’s future success. Don't be a dinosaur! Here are some the common mistakes to avoid when making strategic decisions:
Over the last 20 years as an entrepreneur, and in my role as CEO of RESULTS.com I've had times when things were going really well, and times when they weren’t. When it comes to leading high performing teams, here are a few of the things I've learnt along the way:
Social media’s impact on our business and personal lives is only going to intensify. Your colleagues, staff, boss, clients, suppliers, investors, potential business partners, recruiters and business connections are already judging you based on what they find about you online. Like it or not, you are a brand.
In this guest post, John Spence - one of the top business thought leaders in America - shares his findings on why so many companies struggle with business execution, and why they do not get the results they deserve:
Many business leaders have a distorted concept of “management by objectives.”
They think that it means setting challenging goals – followed up with lots of motivation and pressure in order to drive their team to achieve success. It brings to mind the trench warfare of World War One, where the officers would urge their troops to climb out of their trench and charge the enemy with “Just one last push over the top”. The millions of slaughtered troops did not suffer from a lack of motivation. They suffered from a lack of competent strategic leadership.
All business leaders recognize the need for change. The world is just moving too fast to even dream that we can continue operating under the status quo from year to year. But change requires energy. How can business leaders create the organizational energy needed to fuel the change required in their firms and overcome the inertia of status quo?
Management By Walking Around (MBWA) was a term coined by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman in their 1982 book “In Search of Excellence”. This practice remains as relevant now as it was then. In essence, MBWA means tearing yourself away from the e-mails, spreadsheets, reports, and management team meetings – and getting out into the real world. It sounds simple, but simple does not mean easy.
The Sergeant who took me under his wing when I was a wet-behind the ears second lieutenant once told me that the worst way to be a leader was to wait for perfect information or perfect certainty before committing to a course of action. This, he espoused, created fear, uncertainty and doubt in a world where perfect information and certainty were impossible. He asserted it was better to make the wrong decision (and own it) than to make no decision. To play to win instead of playing not to lose.
If you want to be successful as a business leader, you need to project a high level of confidence. You need confidence in your abilities (self-confidence); confidence in your team’s abilities; and confidence in your strategic plan (you followed a disciplined thought process to create a winning strategy and you have clearly specified what actions need to be taken to execute your plan). Here are 10 more things that will help you be more successful:
Leading people is one of life’s great challenges and privileges. Every day at RESULTS.com I work with CEO’s and Business owners who have “People Issues”. Let's face it we all have them from time to time, and dare I say it when you are in the leadership game, "People Issues" are "Business as Usual". So why do leaders dread it so much? Short answer: it takes courage, patience, common sense and focus to get the best out of people. The rest comes with experience, being authentic, leading from the front, and being able to guide, mentor and develop your team.
Many companies think they have a strategy, but usually all they have done is a meaningless exercise in financial goal setting. Goal setting is important - but setting numerical targets is not a strategy. We all want to grow – but growth is not a strategy. We all want to improve our businesses - but improvement is not a strategy. We all want to be more efficient – but efficiency is not a strategy. Yes, we want to be better than our competitors – but beating our competitors is not a strategy either. Bigger, better, faster, cheaper is not strategy!
Commitment and focus to a company's strategy tends to start off high. Then nothing gets done...
It’s a common pattern: a firm’s leadership or executive team holes up for one or two full days of high-intensity strategic planning at the start of the year, resulting in a set of strategic intentions or priorities to move the company forward. The business strategy and initiatives are top of mind immediately following this event, and the commitment is high.
There are few decisions as major as buying a house, and the same can be said for finding the right staff member - both can make or break your future. In this blog I take some great lessons I learnt from house buying, and apply them to making sure your next hire is a top performing “A-Player”
According to Peter Drucker (often referred to as ‘the father of modern management’), “Staff efforts must be concentrated on the few activities that are capable of producing significant business results. Managers must minimize the amount of attention devoted to activities which produce primarily costs."
For many in the business world the word “leader” is one that is not well understood. Too often “management of resources and people” is mistaken for the art of leadership. Good leaders understand that leadership is about people, and getting the right things done in order for the business to win. Leaders need to know their staff and to generate trust and get a balance between work and fun. They need to be authentic and leadership is a journey, not an event.
Effective, well structured meetings positively impact your company not just immediately, but years later.
A study looked at mid-size companies, and recorded the types of meetings they held, and the impact on company performance over a period of two and half years. They found that companies which run highly disciplined, well-structured team meetings achieve superior performance that has a positive flow on effect years later.
Conversely, companies which run poorly disciplined, unstructured team meetings experience more employee dissatisfaction, lower staff productivity, and overall poorer performance.
Be honest. How effective are your weekly execution meetings really?
- Do they inspire and motivate your team members?
- Do they drive accountability for business execution?
- Do they lead to better business results?
Unfortunately most companies don’t seem to know how to run effective meetings.The study showed that highly productive teams used their meetings to focus on performance. The team members are proactive and take accountability for business execution – they focus on results, and get their tasks completed on time. The team confronts problems head on.
The manager seeks a variety of perspectives when framing potential solutions. The manager or meeting facilitator typically has a strong personality; they stick to the agenda, and keep people focused on what’s important. Management dashboard software makes it much easier to run great meetings.
Conversely, the poor performing teams held unstructured meetings and wasted a lot of precious time. Complaining and criticizing behaviors were common, as was failing to take accountability for execution and this was highly detrimental to performance.
Eliminate bad meetings.
These negative meeting practices had a greatest impact on performance. Thus, managers need to focus on preventing the bad behaviors most of all. Eliminating negative behaviors is even more important for business execution success than accentuating the positive.How satisfied are you with the quality of the meetings in your company? What are you going to do to improve your team meetings – starting now?
You know that awkward moment when an unexpected LinkedIn invitation arrives in your inbox and you are wondering how to respond. Yes? No? Who is this person anyway? In this post we examine your options:
What is your LinkedIn strategy?
LinkedIn suggests only accepting invitations from people you know, but to me this question is not quite so clear cut. First, you must decide upon your strategy for LinkedIn.
Are you someone who would like to keep up-to-date with the close personal connections you have made in your professional life?
Or is your strategy to build a huge contact list of loose connections to tap into should you need to request advice or ask for a favor in the future? Or are you somewhere in between?
Where ever you decide you fit on the spectrum, a consistent approach will help to ensure you achieve your goal.
Option 1: The bigger the better.
If you are looking to build the biggest network you can, then the answer is quite simply to accept all the invitations you receive and send out as many invitations as you deem appropriate.
This does have its risks, as it is impossible to know everyone well, and it becomes unclear who your “real connections” are.
Any recommendations or endorsements you give out, may not be as valued. Or, if one of your connections asks for an introduction to someone else in your network, do you really know both parties well enough to make an introduction that reflects positively on you and benefits all parties?
Option 2: Keeping it tight.
The power of keeping a small network is the strength of your connections. Deciding to only accept invitations from people you know, trust, and would personally endorse, makes a strong statement about the value you place in your connections.
The downside to this, is that your “reach” is more limited if you are trying to promote yourself or your business.
I would also consider connectiing with people where you have had at least one meaningful interaction with them (whether it was a physical meeting, or communications via email, social media etc).
If you receive an invitation to connect, and do not know or remember the person, and it seems very unlikely you would ever meet with them, then it is fair to decline (ignore) their invitation. It is always worth researching them through LinkedIn and Google first to jog your memory.
Shades of grey.
What about those invitations you receive that fall into a grey area? For me, it comes down to a conscience vote. Is the person someone you would like to have in your network? Do you have common interests? Perhaps send them a personal message first to find out more about who they are and what they are looking for, before you agree to connect with them.
When sending invitations to connect, don’t just use the default connection message. That makes it look like you don't really care. Take a few seconds to personalise the invitation. Mention how you know the person, that way your invitation is much more likely to be accepted. It makes the choice easy for them.
What about you? What approach do you use with LinkedIn? Why?
"What's been your worst day at work?", I asked. "The day we got held up at gun-point", she said, "but having a phone thrown at my head last week was a close second." I love stories like that. It gives me insight into human nature and the culture of the company. The clerk at the cell-phone store was great. I admired her for being able to stay calm under pressure. It’s a good characteristic in her role working for a company that treats its customers poorly.
In the great 1991 movie City Slickers, Jack Palance plays Curly Washburn, the weathered and wise old cowboy trying to teach the folks from the city how to drive cattle across the American west. In a memorable scene, Curly asks the main character Mitch Robbins, played by Billy Crystal, if he’d like to know the secret of life.
“One thing, just one thing”, says Curly, “stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit”
This scene drives home the moral of the entire film. Namely, that success comes when we get really clear on the ‘one thing’ or the few priorities that are most important, and stay focused on those at the expense of other, less important priorities and distractions.
The Power of Focus.
The same can apply to organizations and their employees. A colleague of mine for many
years in the corporate training industry used to open every one of his business seminars
with the phrase, “In today’s environment it’s not opportunity that we lack, there is an
abundant and constantly growing number of opportunities at our fingertips. What we
really lack is focus, the ability to choose the handful of high priorities and stay
focused on those.”
For individuals this principle can be implemented in a number of ways including the
concept of the “Not to do list”. This phrase, credited to Timothy Ferris in his book The
Four-hour Work Week, implies that if we are going to be truly productive we need to pay
as much attention and apply as much discipline to what we take off our task lists, as what
we put on them. This is truly the art of prioritization, and is fundamental skill for
all employees and leaders today.
Another tactic is to make priorities and performance visible through the use of business
execution software and dashboards. When there is visibility, especially between peers,
there is a higher level of focus.
The concept of focus goes well beyond personal productivity for individuals. Focus is a
fundamental characteristic of successful companies and brands. In his 1996 book Focus:
The Future of Your Company Depends on It, author and branding guru Al Ries insists that
firms must find their focus in order to survive and thrive into the future.
Ries argues that the strength of a brand is inversely proportional to its breadth, and firms that narrow their focus position themselves more strongly in a world deluged with marketing
messages and communications.
A great example of this is Vancouver based 1800GotJunk. This firm grew exponentially
over the past 15 years by focusing entirely on one service and making that service the
single brand message visible in all their marketing communication: “Remove your junk
without lifting a finger”.
Clarifying your “One thing”
As leaders how do we clarify our “One thing”? It’s not easy, and may take time, but one
tool that can help is Jim Collin’s Hedgehog Concept. In his book Good to Great, Collins
identifies that great companies are like hedgehogs.
Based on the parable, the hedgehog always outsmarts the fox by doing one thing over and over again, and doing it really well. According to Collins, great companies do the same and this feature is a key characteristic that separates good companies from great ones.
Further, Collin’s prescribes that leaders can discover their hedgehog by exploring the
intersection of these three questions:
- What is your organization and culture passionate about?
- What can you be best in the world at?
- What will drive your economic engine? What will customers pay for?
In working with many clients using this concept, we’ve found it extremely powerful in
identifying brand focus, and making strategic decisions around core and non-core
Untangling your rope.
It can be easy to lose focus, and generally it is not intentional. Leaders and employees
are constantly faced with new information, ideas, opportunities, challenges and problems,
all of which can contribute to “taking the eye off the ball”. But with the right
process and accountability to the task, companies can determine their “one thing” and use
that to drive higher levels of performance.
Are you ready for better business results? Like most of our readers, you are probably a business leader of a mid-sized, fast-growth company. Today, more than 25,000 business leaders from all around the world subscribe to these Business Growth Tips. 95% of the time we write about best-practice business growth wisdom. Today, I want to offer you the opportunity to get head start on your competitors and learn how all businesses will operate in the future.
There is a weed that stifles business execution success. That weed is called complexity. Unfortunately, a company tends to become more complex the longer it has existed. In addition, the pace of technology change tends to increase complexity, as does globalization, as does complex organization structures. If business leaders are not vigilant, your firm will become increasingly complex, and your ability to execute your strategy will suffer.
Who in your life (and at work) can you really count on?
This question was posed to one of my business partners recently by author David Irvine. David has written a number of books on culture, leadership and accountability, including Accountability: Getting a Grip on Results, which he co-authored with Sean Murphy and Bruce Klatt. As I pondered his question, I realized the people who made my list possess two key characteristics in the way that they operate.
I was recently invited to return to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business for the eighth year in a row to teach a special class on strategic planning. I called my contact a few months before the session to ask if it were possible to shift the class more from "strategic planning" to “strategic thinking" this year, but was surprised to find out that 98 executives had already signed up for the class based on the catalog description of it as "a solid look at how to write and effective strategic plan." So I decided to go back and take a hard look at the program and see if I could update it a bit and was surprised to have an epiphany of sorts.
Not that long ago, organizations considered internal communications as separate from external communications. Our Human Resources or Corporate Communications departments were responsible for internal messaging to employees, while our Marketing and Sales teams were in charge of crafting messages, creating campaigns, and communicating with existing and potential customers. And for many organizations in our industry, these discrete departmental structures still exist.
In this article written for the Executive Briefing section of The Economist, Stephen Lynch, Chief Operating Officer at business execution consultancy RESULTS.com, argues that having a sound strategic plan to create your company’s future success is vital, but most firms still struggle with execution – the discipline of getting things done.