Happy New Year, and welcome to 2017! For the last few weeks I have been interviewing CEO’s and top level performers about their strategies for success. Specifically, what they are doing to really ignite their own passion for success, as well as fully engage their employees.
Now let me back up here, and explain what I mean by “engage.” In today’s professional world more than seventy percent of us are just showing up at work and just going through the motions, and while we do our jobs we have lost the passion and motivation that both satisfies us and drives success. Engagement means that you are “all in”, that your motivation to do your job, care for customers, and go to the next level, comes from within. The beauty of being fully engaged as a professional is that you enjoy what you are doing, so in essence it no longer really feels like work; and for your employer overall performance increases due to happier customers, decreased turnover, and the list goes on.
These interviews have been great, as they are an opportunity to learn first hard from truly successful professionals how and why they made the decision to engage, and then how they have built cultures of engagement within their companies. As you can imagine, I have taken pages of notes, made a long list of ideas, and in reviewing those three strategies in particular really popped out at me. Three ideas that I found that were innovative, and different from what I see the typical employee or leader doing, and three ideas that all of these individuals implemented with great impact and affect.
1. Never Good Enough– One CEO I interviewed said this is the first paragraph in his employee handbook, the very first thing he wants each and every one of his team members to read. He wants all of his team members to understand what was good enough last year is not going to be good enough this year, not enough to move the company forward. Consistent improvement is just that, the art of continuously taking it to the next level. The first strategy these leaders have in common is the expectation of themselves and those that work with them to constantly question, and then improve. In other words, don’t just do things the way you have always done them, be constantly on the lookout for new ideas and new ways of doing things. These leaders have created a culture where innovation and new ideas are welcomed, and failure is embraced as part of the process. For all of these leaders, not accepting status quo, and identifying team members who try new things, take a risk and on occasion failing is key to their success strategy for 2015.
2. Everyone Sells – In 2017, making every single member of your team a sales person is the new normal for those companies that want to take it to the next level. These CEOs and leaders have recognized that the hardest thing to come by in this economy is a customer, whether new or existing, they are precious and need to be cared for by every single member of the team. No longer can you afford to have your customers interact with anyone on the team who does not understand what a customer means to success, and how vital that relationship and the customer experience is. So how are these CEOs creating a culture where everyone sells? First by explaining the big picture, ensuring everyone on the team (whether in sales, service or operations) understands how the company makes money, what it takes and costs to win a customer, and what it takes to actually for a customer relationship to become profitable. Second, they are showing and helping each member of their team understand their role in that, how specifically they can impact that process and make it better, and lastly making their “sales & service” performance part of their expectations and accountabilities. Now while this may seem like a far out concept, imagine, as a customer, interacting with a company where every member of the team understands how important you are, and cared for you at that level. Yes, it makes you realize these CEOs and leaders just may be on to something.
3. Balance Reward & Accountability – I have to admit, this one is my favorite, because as a business coach, and sales strategist, this is the one I seem most organizations struggle with or just flat out get wrong. Each and every one of these leaders understands that there is a delicate balance to reward and accountability. That the company needs to have several methods and strategies for rewarding employees, from informally catching them doing things right, to formal recognition programs where specific achievements are acknowledged. And these leaders balance these reward programs with a culture of accountability. They understand and act on the difference between an employee struggling with skill development, and those that are a discipline issue. For those that need skill development, these leaders have created mentors and trainers that invest in those team members who are struggling to hit goals or get results. And for those that don’t do their jobs? Well, these leaders have clear expectations and they as leaders want to see and want to happen, and when and if they do not see those behaviors (even from their top performers) they take action.
Yes, success in 2017 is going to be different then in the last few years, but with new ideas, and a commitment to not settle for the status quo, I believe that you, your team and your business are going to have an amazing year!.