In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins provides evidence that those companies that are great put first things first – they get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus). In Mr. Collin’s words, they “did the WHO before they did the WHAT.” Sometimes focusing on the “who” means making rigorous, even ruthless decisions in order to build a team who all are exceptional and committed to the organization. The “what” (vision and mission casting) follows after you have the right people.
Here’s the take-away for you and your organization. Are the right people on your team? Collins says that the moment that you need to tightly manage someone is when you made a bad hiring decision. The best people just need to be guided, not controlled. Or take a look at the skill level of your managers. Are they aware that their number 1 priority is to provide guidance and coaching for their staff? Do they have the skills to help a marginal performer transform to an exceptional worker? Are you allowing the wrong people to continue to divert energy from your high performers?
What about your organization’s hiring policies? How much time are you taking to ensure that the right person gets hired? When I was looking for a job, I was always impressed when a company spent a lot of time on the interviewing process. Indeed, when I was hired at Weyerhaeuser Company as a training consultant, the interviewing process included my meeting with several team members, my conducting a training session for their staff, and my participating in a rigorous assessment process so that they could see that not only did I have the skills, but that I would fit in with the company culture.
My next entry will focus on another way you can create a culture of contribution – by engaging your staff and your customers.
In the days of texting, instant messaging, and tweeting, customers are getting more and more demanding about how long they will wait – on the phone – getting an answer back – or a product they ordered. Couple this trend with the fact that many businesses are operating with less than full workforce – we have a major customer service challenge!
We’ve been talking about Garold’s service to me when I called to ask about a part for a drawer. This is great service – I received a call from Garold within hours from when I contacted him!
Perhaps one inexpensive way you can honor your customers is to create a culture where both external and internal customers will get a call back from a customer request within 24 hours. Sound impossible? Over 15 years ago, this was the philosophy that Federal Express taught every employee and their business results showed. What can you do in your business to equip your “customers” with what they need to be able to respond quickly? Here are some ideas:
- Providing customer service reps with an easy reference tool to answer the most frequently asked questions
- Training new employees on the value of responsiveness in their service to internal and external customers
- Establishing easy performance measures for such things as how long a phone rings before someone answers, how long a customer needs to wait before an acknowledgement, how long a customer waits for a response
We’ve heard it many times before – that our attitude determines our results. You know this. I know this. But how many times in the last year have you found yourself slipping into negative thinking? Look around you – there are plenty of things to complain about. Reading the papers, listening to the news, engaging in helpless, powerless conversations…you can think things are pretty bleak. But take a closer look. What we see can determine how we think, which in turn, determines how we feel, and thereby what we can achieve. Here are a few examples:
- A customer who just turned you down – may be just the customer who needs your services next year.
- A manager who failed to communicate a new policy change to her team – is now open to receiving communication training to not make that mistake again.
- A team who did not make their team goals this year is more motivated to looking into how they can better streamline their team processes for 2010.
If we can keep a positive mindset - we are more energized, hopeful, and positive. And probably a lot better to be around.
For 2010, think about the words you tell others. Are they more negative or positive? Or better yet, think about the words you tell yourself.
Of course you can do it!
On October 10th, I will be getting married! My new name will be Jan Dwyer Bang.