Category Archives: Organizational Development
Leaders new to a team have the unenviable task of getting results, building trust and establishing credibility. All the while they are learning their new role, and possibly even a new company.
For some leaders, doing one or the other is attainable, but doing all simultaneously can be a daunting task. It can be a delicate balance at times, and giving attention to everything at once can be a bit overwhelming.
Whether the leader is brand new to leadership, or new to their team, or is a seasoned leader in a new company, the ability to quickly establish change can make or break the leader as well as their teams, and possibly the organization.
I have realized over the years that the most effective way for a leader to create results and build culture is to adopt a rolling focus, 30-60-90 day game plan. Here it is in simplified form:
FIRST 30 DAYS – FOCUS ON PEOPLE & CULTURE
During this time you should make every effort to connect with as many people in your company as you can. At the same time, immerse yourself into the company culture: values, mission, goals, and current (if any) strategic plans. You want to find out who your people are, what strengths they bring to the team, and how aligned they are with the company culture. At the same time, you will be promoting the culture and re-establishing everyone’s belief in the organization and where it’s headed. Getting everyone connected to yourself, and more importantly to the greater vision and mission is the primary objective in the first 30 days.
NEXT 30 DAYS (30-60) – BUILD THE BRAND
As you are laying the foundation of culture among your people, you’ll be seeing how things operate and looking for ways to execute flawlessly. Brands are built internally first, by insuring the business model and daily operations support the culture and effectively serve your clients and customers. Take this time to really focus on training, procedural simplification, process improvement, and other efficiencies that will make your brand more consistent and reliable. The best marketing campaign for any company is wasted money if the service cannot be relied upon.
FINAL STRETCH (60-90 DAYS) – PROFITABLE OR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
Now is the time to plan marketing, strategic growth and revenue opportunities. By this time you have started a trajectory that will enable you to capitalize on the work done thus far. Now you can confidently say your products are better than the competition because of the attention to quality. You can promote best-in-class service because your people are engaged. And you can find new methods to increase top-line revenue and control your costs that will allow the organization to fund new initiatives, hire more people, and impact more customers.
These 30-day increments are designed to make the most of the foundation needs of the organization before moving on to the next phases. That doesn’t mean in the first 30 days you won’t need to worry about operations or profit & loss (these are daily focuses from the first day). But you’ll need to make the concerted effort to enhance the culture, then the brand, then the growth that will become the springboard for change and results. And through this 30/60/90 day cycle, you’ll see results in your metrics at the end of each month that will show how effective this approach can be.
Many new leaders have a 3-month, 6-month, and first-year game plan to create impact in their new role. But in our faster world, you’ll need to set up a way to hit the foundational touch-points both quickly and solidly. Set the ripple effect from Day 1 that allows culture and people to permeate operations and ripples through sustained results and future growth for your organization.
(I first featured this post on Lead Change Group in April 2016)
We’ve all seen and been a part of this: We come back from a workshop, conference, strategic planning session or other great event, excited to make these great changes. Great new ideas, lots of energy, and a broader vision has been instilled and you’re ready to effect change.
Fast forward just a few months later; the company has not been effected by those game-changing ideas, and any semblance of the workshop or conference’s impact is gone.
The same can be said for many of the books written, mastermind session hosted, or webinars attended. All loaded with great wisdom and sure to move the needle, these mediums for change seldom move the needle in an organization.
So much money is spent on conferences, travel, bookings, leadership and strategic development sessions and outside consultants only to see it get wasted because nothing lasting ever came out of those promising sessions. While, yes, some of what is put out there is fluff with no real depth, there is much more great content and resources out there that has true potential to make a difference if the right variables were in play.
So, what happened, and how can lasting impact be made?
First let’s look at some of the reasons why change did not occur:
- Action plans were not made – many people fail to plan for what to do after. They just board the plane home and forget what they learned as they focus on what awaits for them back at work
- Upper management saw the conference as an attitude adjustment for the employee – a lot of times managers send staff to events as a way to train or change the employee, without wanting to change themselves
- The workshop was just for show – some companies have been know to be part of these events just by attending but fail to show they align with these initiatives
- The attendees has a poor attitude about attending – a lot of individuals look at these events as drudgery, or as a mini-vacation from work, without any plan to improve or learn
- Leadership is not aligned with any changes from such events – upper management never intended to change anything they do and would just rather stay their course of action
- The one or few people who attend aren’t allowed much influence in subsequent changes – they come back with great ideas and are marginalized or squelched by their boss when they arrive and not allowed to implement any changes
- Leadership minimized and wrote off what any impact would be – by sticking to their narrow vision and not seeing what new ideas or trends are out there, these types of leaders truncate any major impact these conferences or sessions can make for their company and customers
So if you want to get the best return for you investment form any book, webinar, conference, or workshop, here are the best ways to effect lasting change:
- Get as many people attending as possible – does this cost more? Yes. But getting more people on board increases alignment, builds broader collaboration and generates more buzz and follow through to make a major impact
- Have a team action plan session – have the people who attend make an action plan on what was learned no less than a week form the end of the event. if possible, make it within 48 hours while the ideas and energy are still fresh
- Set goals and determine that the company will benefit from these ideas – make a hard goal plan that the organization will see these changes through towards improving operations, customer service, sales, etc. A goal will ensure the company adopts these changes and doesn’t forsake them
- Set incremental milestones to make sure actions steps are on track – refer to the conference material after 30, 60, 90 days to ensure the momentum stays on track. Nothing derails planned change like time; keep refreshing the ideas and energy at no more than 30 day periods.
- Take the key points and find the best application for them in our business culture and model – it’s easy to tell yourself that some, or many, ideas won’t apply to your business. The best companies find a way to make these work for them and leverage a differentiation from them
- Go with an attitude of learning and professionalism – many people who attend these events take them as a big bash and spend far too much time at the bar and instead of finding ways to improve themselves and their company
At the end of it all, it’s up to you as a leader to adopt ideas into lasting change. Don’t waste your time and money, and that of your employees, or the speaker’s time, by just attending and doing nothing to improve your company or your customer’s experience.
(image: wikimedia commons)
Companies have a funny way of justifying that they are better than what their customers say they are.
If you think that’s off the mark, check out the online reviews of companies and see their responses back to the customers. Or any public statement when it comes to an incident such as a recall, injury, or other negative issue the company is involved in.
These answers vary but all have the same root political spin to them. At the core of their responses, the infamous line usually appears:
We pride ourselves in delivering the best experience to our customers.
And that is also coupled with another phrase touting the company’s (relative) success up until that point:
We have had thousands of satisfied customers…; We have succeeded in the indsutry by…:
And quite frankly, responses like these are lame, pathetic, and serve no good to that customer or any other customer.
All a customer simply wants is their needs and expectations met or exceeded.
Your success does nothing for the customer with a complaint.
I have seen many companies and individuals offer excuses for delivering on poor service. The following are some actual responses from these organizations and professionals:
- Away taking awards trips (and focusing on self rather than making sure customers are tended to)
- Busy in meetings all day (customer feels they are not the prioirty)
- We’ve made xxx amount of money in the last year (that is not helping the cusotmer today)
- We just landed a major account (and ignoring the smaller accounts)
- We’re crazy busy around here (showing you’re disorganized and can’t control your business)
- We’ve never had a problem before (totally irrelevant to the situation)
If the customer cannot feel connected to you, then you are not a success in their eyes. They are the only ones that truly matter and failure to take action to meet their expectations or to take accountability for dropping the ball will have a negative impact on your business. Sustained excuses and touting your ability to deliver when it’s really not there will have far-reaching damage on your credibility as a leader and an organization.
It’s said in the restaurant industry, “You’re only as good as your last meal served.” A better phrase would be “You’re only as good as the customer you just served”. Nothing you’ve done in the past, even the prior minute, matters.
The only thing that matters to the customer is what you do for them while they’re standing in front of you.